1875 - The Food Chain

Country people could often 'grow their own', while shops selling fresh food -the greengrocers, fruiterers, butchers, fishmongers - were essential to increasing urban populations. Many long-established shops are still in business and an encouraging number retain some of their original period features. Why do we no longer see animal carcases displayed outside butchers' shops?

Henry Taylor, Butcher. Though the rich tilework and exuberant lettering of this Bournemouth butcher's shop are in the vanguard of late Victorian architectural fashion, the open front is a throwback to a much earlier era. At night, wooden shutters would be closed across it and the shop would, literally, be shut. For once, the classical pillars are functional rather than purely decorative. So too, in a different way, are the tiles (easy to keep clean) and the sawdust on the floor. Until quite recently a great many butchers slaughtered their own animals behind the shop, but this was outlawed by Common Market regulations and nowadays most meat is brought in either from a centralised abattoir or a wholesaler. Legislation to promote better hygiene has also banished the spectacular, if gruesome, displays of meat and fowl (especially Christmas turkeys) hung up outside the shop. A feature in some shops is a separate office or cash desk where purchases are paid for, so the handling of money is segregated from the meat counter. Even in 1914 there were multiple butchers with over a thousand branches each, but there are still family businesses where pride is taken in providing a service matched to the individual customer's needs, and a bag of bones can usually be found as a treat for the regulars' pets. Though the distinctive butcher's bicycle, with its large wicker basket over the front wheel, has now been replaced by the delivery van, families may still be 'waited on daily' in traditional style - one of the few trades where this once widespread custom still survives.

1860 - Victorian Taste

1907 - Changing faces