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Saturday, 30 August 2014

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Carlisle butcher retiring after 50 years in the business

Carlisle butcher Ken Finn deserves a holiday – he hasn’t had one for 28 years.

Ken Finn photo
Ken Finn

Mr Finn, who runs Ben Stansfield butchers on Scotland Road, Stanwix, will put down his meat cleaver after 50 years in business on Saturday, August 25.

As well as the end of a long career for him, his retirement will also spell the end of an era for Carlisle.

Mr Finn, 64, said: “In its height the Ben Stansfield name was the largest family butcher in the city; it was around long before your Cranstons and other shops.

“When we close our doors it will be the end of the Stansfield shops and the end of an era.”

He began learning his trade with a butchery firm called Ernest Wrightson in Carlisle in the 1960s, and has been doing the job ever since.

Mr Finn said: “I live in Stanwix and about 35 years ago I went into partnership with Bobby Storey. When he retired I carried on.”

The butcher, who works alongside his wife Anne, is certainly committed to his job. He works long hours and his shop is open six days a week.

He said: “I enjoy meeting people and I’ve built up a loyal clientele otherwise I would not have been able to sustain being here.

“I’ve been here longer than Asda and Morrisons but there aren’t that many independent butcher’s shops left.”

Mr Finn has weathered many an economic crisis, and has watched people’s daily lives and eating habits change.

He said that the Sunday roast now seems to be a thing of the past as people’s lives become busier and families opt to only have a traditional meal for a special occasion.

The price of meat may also have had an impact.

“Meat was a cheap commodity in those days,” he said. “It was a staple part of the diet and you ate it three or four times a week.

“When I started out you could get a rump steak for about three and six (17.5p) per pound but now you are looking at £14 or £15 per pound.

“I’ve noticed things like kidneys and liver aren’t really popular any more either, except with the older clientele.”

When Mr and Mrs Finn retire they are going to enjoy having the winter off, but it might not all be plain sailing.

“I was in the trade when I met Anne,” he laughed. “So she’s only ever known me as a butcher.

“It might take some getting used to – and I’m sure she’ll tell me if I get in her way.”

He added: “It will be nice not to have the Christmas rush. I’ve spent some really cold winters in here – a butcher’s shop isn’t the warmest of places.

“I am quite fit and I might look for something to keep me busy a couple of days a week. I don’t want to be tied to the business.

“The fact that we haven’t had a holiday for 28 years is our making. It was our decision to give the customers the service that they deserve.”

Mrs Finn helps out in the shop at weekends and does all of the accounts and paper work.

“Anne is very valuable to the business. I couldn’t do it without her,” said Mr Finn.

Throughout his lifetime of working in the city, Mr Finn said many of his customers have become friends.

While they are sad to see him close, he said they understand that the time has come for the butcher and his wife to finally spend some quality time together.

Mr Finn added that he would like to thank all of his customers for their support over the years, and that he would miss them.

Have your say

Have only just heard the news that you're retired & it'll take some time to sink in. I hope you're both having a wonderful, well earned rest - I remember you when I was a child & spent every summer with my grandparents in Carlisle; when I married at Gretna & when we returned on our anniversary & bought over £100 worth of tomato sausage to take back to Norfolk. We are coming back next yr to renew our vows so I googled the shop in the hope that you're still there as our freezer is now empty of tomato sausage :( Oh dear lol.. I just don't know how I'm going to break the news to my mum - I'll have to sit her down with a cup of tea first.. All the very best, Sara

Posted by Sara on 3 October 2013 at 00:52

Ken, lots of hard graft - you really do deserve a few lie ins at last!
Enjoy some relaxing time together. Jo xxxx

Posted by Jo Baty on 17 July 2012 at 20:52

View all 17 comments on this article

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