My name is Deborah Norrey and I’m working on the History at Hobsmoor Project. Today’s date is Tuesday the twenty-seventh of February 2016, no 2018 and I’m here with Dave. Dave, can I please ask your name and your date of birth and where you were born please?
Yeah, erm I’m Dave Decrow. I was born on the fourteenth of the tenth 1947, a long time ago.
And were you born in Birmingham, Dave?
Yes. Yes, Mosley.
So Dave, you work in the butcher’s down at the Yew Tree. Can you tell me how long you’ve worked here for please?
Er, approximately forty years.
And can you tell me what, what the shop was like and the area was like when you first started here?
Er, well when I first came here it was a really old-fashioned butcher’s. We had overhead rails and all the interior was wooden-lined, and obviously all that’s changed now. It’s all tiled, drop ceilings. But it was a really old-fashioned … the area was er, a lot busier than it is now. There was no lights, there’s no parking round here whereas at one time you could park right the way down to the island, there wasn’t a problem. But obviously the way things are going now the parking’s getting less and less and it’s just … because there was just car parks [inaud 1:28]. That’s the situation at the moment.
Can you describe what the shop was like when you first started, as in what sort of meats you had, how they were hung, that sort of thing?
Yeah. Well at one time we used to have whole bodies of er pork and beef and lambs and, but now you tend, like the lambs, the New Zealand lamb is mainly boxed, so you can’t buy whole New Zealand lambs. But the sides the shop sells … we still do have sides of beef and pork. But you can buy cuts now, so you more or less go onto cuts to sell what you need rather than whole carcasses. But we still, basically it’s still traditional. We still have all fresh produce in and cut it ourselves and bone it ourselves. So in that respect I suppose meat-wise it hasn’t changed that much.
So when you first moved in did you have things like pigs hanging in the window?
Oh yeah, we had pigs, [inaud 2:40] sides of bacon, even beef hanging all round the shop, years and years ago, ‘cause above this drop ceiling the old rails are still there, you know, we’d swing it completely round the shop. So when they come in, they’d hang it just inside the door and then you’d just push ‘em round to where you wanted ‘em. So yeah, we did have a lot of stuff hanging up when we first come in but now obviously people don’t like to see that. There’s no block in the shop because they don’t like to see a block with blood on and cutting animals up, so it’s all done out the back, so the shop’s completely clear of any cutting.
Do you think that, that, the change in that is down to the fact that the footfall has fallen off or is it health and safety or regulations?
It’s a little bit of everything. The health wouldn’t be too keen on the hanging of all the sides out now, during the, during the day ‘cause it’s all temperature controlled, so it has to be a certain temperature so that would be gone now. You couldn’t basically do that. Everything really we sell now is refrigerated and there’s nothing out loose … they wouldn’t stand for that now, the health, health and safety. So … that’s what we do. We just go along with what they, what they want and it’s the only way you can do it nowdays, you know, you can’t do anything else But that’s about it really. You know, we try and keep everything as straight as we can but obviously with a butcher’s shop sometimes, it, it gets a bit … messy out the back, but that just goes with the territory, so … you know, yeah. Other than that I think that’s it.
When you first started in here, Dave, what was the shopping area itself like?
Oh, it was a really good shopping area. The, the amount of shops here, I, I dunno how many’s here exactly but there must be a good fifty shops round the area, and every shop was open, and every shop was selling something different. Like haberdashery used to be next-door, iron monger used to be the other side, there was clothes shops, electric shops, everything, but now obviously it’s getting more to fast food and chemists and funeral directors. It goes through everything that really you don’t, you don’t do day by day, you know. So it’s … it’s a shame really because the area obviously, people don’t come in ‘cause they can get this stuff anywhere now. And you can’t expect somebody to open a clothes shop if you can buy a pair of jeans for three pound in the supermarket, nobody’s gonna go and pay twenty pound for a pair of jeans in a shop. So you know, that’s the situation. The supermarkets basically … you just, everybody buys from the supermarket and now they’re selling washing machines, spin dryers, well, you’re not gonna go to a Rumbelows and buy, spend another hundred pound on the same product. Nobody will. So it’s the way … it’s moving with the times, you know, it’s no good fighting against it. It’s there and that’s what you’ve gotta put up with.
And can I ask you, Dave, after the Tesco’s started being redeveloped, did that have any impact on your own shop?
Yes, it did in, in a way… everything affects the shop. I mean footfall in [6:20 inaud] we’re not too bad, but when we first started the queue was out the door every day. You know, every day the queue was out the door and it was absolutely horrendous trying to keep everything looking nice and serve the people at the same time. And one time on a Saturday we’d have eight or ten people serving, and now there’s three or four. We’re still busy but only, you know, in the context of four people instead of eight or ten, there’s the difference.
And what about the community in the area? How has that changed, Dave?
Well, at one time we would, we would do it … well people used to call a school run, that’s everybody would take some kids to school, they’d come in and get some meat on the way back home and then in the afternoon they’d come and collect their kids and, and have a, come in and buy the meat, and we’d have a shop full. It was really hard work from three o’clock till five o’clock, but now you don’t see anybody. Very few people collecting school, mainly because … the amount of people who use butchers now, has changed completely. You know it’s … the area is erm … well, it’s just changed. You know, it’s the way that people are, has er … you know, it is … it’s disappointing really when you look, this, this area was absolutely fantastic when we first come here. It was, it was probably one of the best areas I’ve ever worked in. The people were nice, everybody knew everybody. You know, you knew who was coming through the door, you could have a nice laugh and joke, which we still do now ‘cause I mean … but it… the amount of people that are coming in now are less and less. We have noticed a slight difference in younger people, coming in more now than they ever have. I think it’s mainly because if they try it, they realise the difference in having fresh cooked meat every day, than having supermarkets which probably might not be quite as good as our stuff. But I might be biased in that so [chuckling] so I wouldn’t take too much notice of that.
Can you share with me some of your happy memories of working here, Dave?
Oh we’ve had, we’ve had loads. I mean [pause] it’s always … I get a kick every day when I put the counter on and it looks nice. You always get that feeling, every day is … you know, you get a sense of achievement when you’ve got a nice, a nice shop, a nice flash and people come in and pay you compliments. It’s always … it’s always real [9:20 inaud], you can’t, you can’t beat that. That’s the reason I’m still working I think. [Laughing]
And do you have any funny memories or funny stories?
Well, I do. I don’t think I could tell you about them though! [Laughing] Well, we do, we have a good laugh. The customers are great. You know, I’ve known, I mean I’m serving third generations now, you know, and you know you’re in trouble when they start calling you uncle! [Laughing] You know, but … yeah, they’re all basically happy memories. I don’t regret being here at all. You know it’s … this has been basically what I do, this is my life, so that’s why I’m still here at seventy! [Laughing] Could do with a new pair of legs but other than that I’m alright I think! [Laughing]
Is there anything else you’d like to share with me, Dave?
I think that just about covers it, you know, it’s … the area, as I say, is … was a great area. It’s still quite good now, but that’s mainly ‘cause I only see me customers so that’s all I can relate to is my own customers. And er yeah, they’re really, really … they’re more friends than customers, you know, after this many years, you know, somebody dies, it upsets you and somebody gets married, you’re happy for ‘em but er … you know, that’s just the way it is. You know, it’s just the way it is.
When you first started her, Dave, and like there was all lots of different shops like you, you stated, did you, you know the, the other shop keepers quite well then?
Oh yeah, yeah! ‘cause erm … obviously next-doors was a haberdashery and … they was a couple of really old ladies, they was in their eighties I think, and then that was taken over by somebody else who did the same thing, and she was on her own and I know her husband was a bit worried about her being on her own so we had a, a bell fitted in here so if she had a problem in the shop she pressed the bell, it would go off in the shop and we’d all go round. But it didn’t happen… I think it happened about once and that was a mistake! [Laughing] So there was about five butchers running into the shop and … the bloke in there wondered what was going on! [Laughing] But other than that, yeah, no, we all knew each other and we all helped out each other out, which you should do, you … you know, everybody’s working the same as you, you should help ‘em out as much as you possibly can. If I do now, all the shops around here, if I can do anything to help ‘em out then obviously I will and they’ll do the same for me. You know, that’s basically it I’m afraid.
That’s lovely, Dave. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me.
OK? That’s not a problem. OK?
I hope that was alright for you.
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