Stedman, Ronald (22 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 22: Tape 11 Side B: W recalled to Min of Labour in Whitehall and RS got job in Surrey, working on the land at Epsom Depot, details. Stayed in touch with some of the people who worked with him on the land, all are now dead. Experience of working on the land irrelevant to later career except for desire to be in countryside. Became ill due to getting wet on land, appeared before Min of Labour and given permission to get job with company as long as with food. Saw ad in Telegraph for bookkeeper for business of eight butchers’ shops. Doesn’t know if would have worked with butchers’ shops again if not for ad. Interview with two accountants trying to run eight butchers’ shops and given job at £5 a week in 1944. Nearly lost job because knew little about bookkeeping. One of the accountants became Sir Graham Rowlandson, the other was his chief clerk, McCloud. Job was based in Salisbury House, Finsbury Circus. GR also ran firm, Marine & Overseas Services; asked RS to take firm over and find more lines for mail order company. Buyer for eight butchers’ shops at Smithfield was discovered to be a thief and sacked; RS became the buyer at Smithfield in 1945 and started to run shops. Details of the eight shops owned by GR who had taken first shop from someone who owed money and couldn’t pay. Effect of rationing on butchers’ shops during War of government allocation. GR built up the number of shops during War. No experience of Smithfield, memories of first morning as a buyer. Details about the buying of meat. Began to buy direct from farms in Norfolk, had special vans made to hang poultry. Importance of good quality. Women buy with their eyes, haven’t got much knowledge of meat, fish etc. Details of trade with Norfolk farmers. Evolution of RS’s job with two accountants - they ran accountancy side. For ten years had meeting with GR every day in Finsbury Circus. RS up at 4 every morning to go to the market, worked at Finsbury Circus in the afternoons, left approx 4.30. Later had own office in Smithfield at Boundary House and organised own staff; only saw GR once a month at his flat in Grosvenor Square. Moved out because wanted own organisation in Smithfield. Came to own 150 shops. S. Graham Rowlandson & Company. Shops bought under the name of Strongs & Bennet. When RS joined in 1944 GR was chartered accountant earning normal accountant’s salary. RS made GR the money which allowed him to progress further. RS made GR £30,000 in 1946 through selling parachute material for lingerie during War and after. Sold parachute material as Marine & Overseas Services. Persuaded GR to risk £12 on an advert in the ‘People’. Sale of parachute material. Huge response so took three months to open post from one advert. Profit enabled GR to buy more butchers’ shops. Extra sale of sandals, but wanted to focus on butchers’ shops and Marine & Overseas ‘died a natural death’. RS ‘young and ignorant’ and hadn’t learned yet about wealth, reason why needed to stay with GR rather than going off on his own. Was paid well.

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