Butchers’ Shops in Hoole
By carrying on trading during the Covid-19 lockdown not only did Hopton's continue to provide local residents with their high-quality meat and meat products, they also ensured that a butcher’s shop had traded in Hoole for over 160 years. Even during the two world wars Hoole Food Control Committee ensured that the availability of meat continued from butchers’ shops, but with strict controls on rationing and deliveries.
The first butcher’s shop in Hoole is recorded in an 1857 directory, run by William Jones at 3 Charles Street (now part of Chatwin’s premises). In 1864 William Jones was declared bankrupt but appears to have carried on trading because in 1869 he was summonsed, his scales being 4 drams against the customer and was ordered to pay costs of 4s.6d. He is also listed in the 1871 Census, still as a butcher but then, identifiable by his 10 children, the same William Jones appeared in the 1881 Census as having moved to 19 Charles Street where his occupation was shown there as a printer.
When, in 1860, a butcher’s shop opened in Faulkner Street in the premises now occupied by Deli-Vert, it was the first to be run by a member of the Dinwoodie family, a name to be associated with the providers of meat in Hoole for the next 115 years. It was run by John Dinwoodie Jnr., then aged 19; unfortunately, John died suddenly at the age of 41 in 1883. His widow continued to run the shop until their son Frederick Turner Dinwoodie took over and in 1905 he moved the business further down the Street to Nos.65/67. A branch of the business run by one of Frederick’s sons took over George Harvey’s butcher's shop in Walker Street and Dinwoodies the butchers became a well-established enterprise until 1974 by when both shops were closed. More details of the Dinwoodie Family are in People of Hoole.
As the population of Hoole expanded during the Victorian era so did the demand for fresh meat, and when the Co-op opened in Walker Street in 1905 its butchery department was in competition with five other butchers’ shops in the area.
Members of the Society have investigated the effect of the arrival of the Co-op on the many shops then trading locally (including 12 grocers and provision dealers, 6 drapers, 6 boot and shoe shops and at least 9 general stores); surprisingly many were to survive probably because Hoole’s population continued to expand significantly.
The main competition to Dinwoodies was from Joseph Crewe whose family had run butchers’ shops in Watergate Street and the Market Hall for many years. His first shop in 1898 was rented at No.32, re-numbered to 40 Faulkner Street, now the Sea Breeze Fish Bar. At that time most of the properties in Faulkner Street were rented houses but when landlords realised that they could obtain higher rents they started to convert them into shops; research shows separate blocks being developed over time. Joseph Crewe moved across the street to No.31 (it is worth noting that his neighbour, Dawson the newsagent, did likewise from No.26 to No.35) the business continuing there until 1938 when Joseph Crewe died. After the Second World War the premises were used by Richard (Dick) Parry, who as Hoole’s only barber became a well-known character. Although Dinwoodie and Crewe were rivals they often appeared together as judges at livestock market competitions.
When Joseph Crewe moved across the road, the shop next door No.29 was also a butcher's run by Edward Bagshaw who originally came to Chester to work as a manager for Thomas Lloyd a butcher in the Market Hall. Edward Bagshaw’s manager, Alfred Betton, lived over the shop while Edward lived at 7 Panton Road before moving to 5 Hoole Park. Nos.29/31 are now the Delhi Street Indian Restaurant.
Meanwhile in Charles Street, premises at No.24 occupied for many years by the Roberts family, cow keepers, and briefly occupied by George Stalker, dairyman, and William Wild, fishmonger, became a butcher's shop run in 1881 by John Evans who went into liquidation in 1882. It was then run by Edward Roberts and later directories link the business to the Argentinian Meat Company! The shop (now the Groves Herbal Dispensary) was eventually to be tiled in dark green and white, a unique shop frontage in Hoole. Roberts the butcher traded in Charles Street into the 1970’s.
All these butchers, Dinwoodie, Crewe, Bagshaw and Roberts continued to trade during the first half of the 20th century, their premises equipped with cold stores, wooden chopping benches and usually sawdust on the floor. During the two World Wars, Hoole Food Control Committee issued regulations to ensure rationing (a typical ration in WW2 for one adult was meat to the value of 1s 2d per week) and deliveries to minimise the use of transport, the Food Order even referring to the use of cycles. Frederick and later John Dinwoodie, and Ernest Bagshaw were members of the WW2 Committee.
In 1933, Sydney Nicholson opened a butcher’s shop at 54 Westminster Road (opposite Law Street). In 1945, Edward Bagshaw died and for a number of years his shop in Faulkner Street was run by Read's. It was then taken over by Nicholson's who by 1977 had premises at Upton, Waverton, The Lache and Buckley.
In 1967, Dawson the newsagents advertised for sale a new shop at 30 Faulkner Street which had been converted from a residential dwelling. It was bought by Harry Hopton, a master butcher whose son Bryan had opened new eateries in Chester: the Caribbean Grill, Chester Steakhouse and the Witches Kitchen in Frodsham Street. In 1974, Harry Hopton purchased the champion bullock which weighed ten and three quarter hundred weight at the Chester Smithfield Market for £688, a record price; he also bought the champion beasts at other markets and advertisements show them being sold both through the restaurants and at the shop. Selling meat for freezers was another line of business.
As the millennium approached shopping habits began to change. The big supermarkets had their own butchery departments and provided a wide range of meat products; ready meals and eating out were becoming the things to do; working wives were spending less time cooking and family meals traditionally including joints or cuts of meat were becoming less frequent. Vegetarianism was also making an impact.
Not surprisingly, butchers’ shops everywhere began to close. A nationwide survey shows that there were 15,000 shops in 1990 and now there are less than 6,000. Nicholson's endeavoured to increase their trade by opening a deli counter. This shop became known as Clancy’s and has also now closed.
So now in Hoole we have just one shop, Hopton’s, who fortunately continue to provide (without any sawdust) local residents with a traditional high-quality butchery service.
The picture shows a collage, giving an impression of John Dinwoodie's shop in the late 19th Century at No.2 (now No.10) Faulkner Street. The upper floor was later extended over the entry on the right which continued to provide access to the rear, much used by Faichney's Taxis, whose family also ran the shop as a greengrocer. Other occupants as greengrocers were Ruscoe's and O'Reilly's (who also owned the chip shop). The premises which are now the Fresh Flower shop were built into the entry. The splendid pair of townhouses still stand alone as the only non-commercial premises in that part of Hoole.
- Article researched and written by Ralph Earlam, July 2020, Hoole History & Heritage Society