Cut-above-the-rest butcher retires after half a century

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HE has seen it all in 50 years of lean and fat. Now butcher Stuart Bean is hanging up his apron for the final time on Saturday – the end of an era for customers too, some of whom have been coming to his shop in Market Weighton for half a century.

Coming from a farming background, Mr Bean, 65, found butchery natural – as a boy he used to help out cleaning entrails to make sausage skins. He joined G&H Martin’s after leaving school, working for George and Harry Martin for the next 19 years. “It was a very good business, there were no supermarkets, and the butcher was the person who sold meat, a grocer sold bacon never meat,” he recalled.

“Everybody worked Saturdays so the butcher’s was open from 8am to 5.30pm, and they ate a tremendous amount of meat, always joints.” Mr Bean bought the business when they retired in 1979 and has built up a reputation for his homemade cakes and pies.

For the past 25 years he has worked with Simon Purkis, who left last week for a new job. These days constantly-updated food and hygiene regulations, he says, makes going tough for the small retailer.

However one thing has endured – his relationship with his customers. He said: “I’m always joyful and I like the public to be joyful.”