Butcher looks back on half-a-century in the business as he hangs up his apron

Trevor Townsend has served Dunmow for 50 years at Sweetlands. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Trevor Townsend has served Dunmow for 50 years at Sweetlands. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

A butcher is hanging up his apron and laying down his knives after 50 years at Sweetlands in Dunmow.

Trevor Townsend, 65, joined the butchers straight from school, aged just 15, on August 5, 1968, and began working for John Sweetland, who formed the company in 1953.

When he joined, Trevor lived in Thaxted before moving Haverhill with wife Beryl, who he met at The Rose and Crown pub in Thaxted one New Year’s Eve.

Trevor who has two sons, Samuel and Simon, said: “When I started I was paid £6 a week and I thought that was a lot of money. I gave my mum £2 a week then it was a pound a week bus fare and I had to pay 10 shillings for national insurance.”

“My first job was to wash down the front. It must have been a week before they let me pick up a knife. I remember my first Christmas here, there were turkeys everywhere. We had about 450 turkeys and they weren’t all completely plucked so one of my jobs was to take the feathers off the neck and wings. There were piles of feathers on the floor and we swept them up.”

Trevor said the road used to be blocked when the cattle, purchased from the Chelmsford cattle market, were led to the abattoir which Sweetlands used to operate, adding that the animals escaped “once or twice” but, fortunately, never made it past the entrance.

Over the years, other tasks have seen Trevor carrying meat quarters sometimes weighing about 90kgs, serving Eastenders actors, and England cricketer Keith Fletcher.

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In the 1980s, Trevor was offered a job by a nearby butcher for £30 extra a week but turned it down.

He said: “I felt comfortable here. It’s a bit like working in a family. The time has gone so quickly. It has been a pleasure working here. The customers make all the difference.”

Male customers, he added, used to wear flat caps and jackets, but were now more likely to be seen in open collared shirts.

After John Sweetland retired at 70-years-old, the shop was run by his sons Peter and Dean Sweetland, before Dean left.

Peter said: “He is the most trustworthy and reliable person you could ever come across. He has been the backbone of this business.”

Trevor, who is going to Norfolk on holiday once he retires on Saturday, added: “My wife said, ‘you’re not going to be sitting around because there’s decorating to be done!’”.