Barnstaple butcher to retire after 55 years

BARNSTAPLE butcher Peter Dibble and his wife Maureen will at the end of this month both retire from the shop in Butchers Row which has filled their lives. Starting as a 13-year-old errand boy when Grattons Butchers was first established, Peter progressed

BARNSTAPLE butcher Peter Dibble and his wife Maureen will at the end of this month both retire from the shop in Butchers' Row which has filled their lives.Starting as a 13-year-old errand boy when Grattons Butchers was first established, Peter progressed to learn the trade and become manager of the shop where he has worked for the past 55 years.It is also where he met the boss' daughter, Maureen, his wife of 38 years. She was working in her father Douglas' shop and, after leaving to bring up the family, returned and has continued to do the bookwork behind the scenes.Peter recalled in the early days cycling miles in the cold and rain to earn his �1 10 shillings a week.After learning to drive at 17 he used to do a weekly run around the area with a van filled with meat, scales, a block and a cleaver, leaving at 7.30am and returning with empty trays at 8pm.Those were the days of nothing being wasted. All fat was melted down into dripping and joints were sold on the bone. "Nowadays we have to pay to have the bones taken away," he said.Later a bigger and more modern van made life easier, but it still came unstuck in the winter of 1963 when he was forced to abandon it in Woolacombe."When I went back I could not find it. Then I found I was stood on top of it. It took the next two days to dig it out of the snow," he said.Then there was the day the handbrake failed when he left it parked and the van sailed into a field, straight through the gateway, unharmed.He also smiles at recollections of having to draw the cords from the legs of massive Christmas turkeys. At around nine-and-a-half stones he would have to swing on the turkeys' legs and often another butcher would hold on to him to get the job done. At that time of year they would work until 1am and then have to start again 5.30am next day, he said.For 24 years he did not take a holiday -apart from his honeymoon, said Peter. And throughout his 55 years, he has never had a day off sick!He felt himself a very fortunate man, but he was sad now to see the supermarkets taking over and traditional shops closing down.


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