Stedman, Ronald (20 of 32). Food: From Source to Salespoint

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  • Subjects

    Meat industry

  • Recording date

    1999-09-08, 1999-09-30, 1999-10-28, 1999-11-17, 2000-04-20

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home and Butchers' Hall, London

  • Interviewees

    Stedman, Ronald, 1917-2009 (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Courtney, Cathy (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 20: Tape 10 Side B: Memories of street fire alarms. Police boxes with telephones. Less litter in 1930s, man with pointed stick in Electric Avenue picking up paper. Brixton was a safe area even for children in the dark. RS’s children born in late 40s and early 50s and safe for them to go out alone, things changed in 1960s. After apprenticeship as a cutter went to Atlantic Road, Brixton to learn how to be a shopman, ie working with customers. RS has never cooked much, taught when cutting meat which cuts were suitable for which cooking processes. By time RS was running his own shops, staff given certain amount of meat when running shops, a standard perk but abused. RS doesn’t allow his wife, Win, to choose the meat. Training in Atlantic Road lasted approx 6 months. Next went to shop in Streatham High Road, where worked on meat counter in provisions shop, then to Wandsworth High Street and then to Thornton Heath (all branches of David Greig). 1930s high unemployment. Manager of Thornton Heath shop aged 18, enjoyed it apart from Saturday evening auctioneering. Details of managing the shop. Pressure to produce a profit. Competition from Sainsbury’s, the Co-Op, Hammets Butchers. No supermarkets. First supermarket opening in Surrey Street, Croydon, in early 1960s. Prideaux, from Brixton, where had a couple of arches near to Jack Cohen. Prideaux were primarily egg merchants, two sons opened store in Croyden. Prideaux looked a mess, cardboard tickets hanging from ceiling on string, makeshift display equipment. Sainsbury’s first store at Purley, added momentum to rise of supermarkets. RS didn’t see supermarkets as a threat, envisaging selling meat in butchers shops for evermore; it took approx five years to change his mind. Details of the Sainsbury’s store at Purley, which had a car park. Further details of trading at Thornton Heath and ways of increasing sales. Window display. RS aged 18 managing shop, staff relations. Spent about 6 months at Thornton Heath. Promotion in the thirties not expected, happy to have a job. Meat trade had bad name for honesty until beginning of WW2, managers were pushed for profit. Staff thieving. RS had bad blood pressure approx aged 40 through worry about managers who were robbing him.

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