One of the most loved displays in the Sheffield Life and Times gallery at Weston Park Museum is Burton’s Butchers shop. This is a reconstruction using the tiles, counter, fittings and equipment of the original shop at 340 Attercliffe Common.
You can listen and watch George Burton and his wife Joyce talking about the shop in the film that forms part of the display.
The worst thing about working in the shop was the long hours- from 7.30am until the evening
George’s grandfather, George Clay Burton, worked as an assistant at the butchers shop in the 1890s.
In the early 1900s, George Clay Burton rented another butchers over the road, at number 393. He was one of the first butchers to have an ice box. By the 1940s, the building structure of number 393 had begun to deteriorate. After World War Two, George Clay Burton bought the shop at number 340.
George’s grandfather died around 1937, and his father took over. Later, as George’s father grew more elderly, George and Joyce took over. They rarely took time off, as they also had a small-holding. After negotiation with George’s father, they managed to have a holiday during Sheffield’s Works Week, when all the local workers got time off work.
George learnt his trade from his father, who in turn learnt it from his father. A butcher has to know how to cut meat, what the different cuts of meat are, and how to cook them. Joyce would give advice to their customers about the best way to cook certain cuts of meat, whether to steam-roast, braise, fry, stew or slow cook. People on a low wage would generally eat stewing meat, mince, sausages, and liver, and then a joint at the weekend.
George and Joyce have many fond memories of running the butcher’s shop, especially the friendly family atmosphere and talking to the customers. They always heard the local gossip!
George was proud to be a third generation butcher serving meat to third generation customers. Even when customers moved away, or were re-housed, some would return to the shop to buy their meat.
The worst thing about working in the shop was the long hours- from 7.30am until the evening, followed by the scrubbing down of the whole shop. Sometimes they had to work on Sunday to finish the cleaning.
Around two years before they left the shop, George and Joyce were told the building was starting to lean because of the heavy tram and car traffic that went past. Eventually they were told to leave, but because the business was still running, they were paid compensation.
When the shop was closing, people bought the Burtons enough flowers to fill their front room. George and Joyce kindly donated the shop fittings and contents to Sheffield’s collections in 1985. Museums Sheffield would like to thank them for sharing their memories.