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Do you remember Marsh & Baxter butchers' shop in Brierley Hill?

Marsh & Baxters BCLM

17 April 2018

We're currently looking for memories about Marsh & Baxter's butchers' shop that was on on the High Street in Brierley Hill.  Specifically, we are looking for memories from the 1950s as that is the period in which we’ll be setting the butchers.

 

We are particularly interested in finding out more about what costumes the butchers wore, the way in which meat was sold and, since the shop will be in the year rationing ended, any memories around how the shop changed when restrictions were lifted.

 

About Marsh & Baxter’s

 

In 1871, Alfred Marsh purchased a butcher’s shop on Brierley Hill High Street and soon set about curing his own ham and bacon at a small factory nearby, in Hall Street. In the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth, the industry was very specialised: butchers might be general butchers selling beef and game, poulterers selling chicken, or pork butchers selling sausages, hams and other pork products. Marsh would have had plenty of competition: there were fifteen butchers shops in Brierley Hill alone in 1880.

 

Marsh’s products proved very popular, and he soon looked to expand his business. He did this first of all by mechanizing his production process, introducing machinery and refrigeration to the factory to enable production of bacon, sausages, hams and pork pies on an industrial scale, all year round. In 1912, Marsh took over A.R. Baxter’s meat processing factory in Dale End, Birmingham and another five shops, gained a royal warrant, and rapidly grew into probably the biggest firm of its type in the country – even bigger than its local competitor, Dudley Port’s Palethorpes. The Hall Street factory grew to dominate the Brierley Hill skyline and provided work for thousands of locals: it had ten curing houses with a capacity of 60,000 hams, an ice plant, a huge fleet of delivery vehicles, and dedicated tunnels from the Stourbridge Canal and the firm’s own railway siding, through which pigs arrived.

 

Meat rationing began during World War Two and was the last item to be taken off ration in 1954. Nevertheless, the firm prospered: by the 1950s, Marsh & Baxter had 52 outlets and exported nationally and internationally, and were even one of the earliest firms to adopt television advertising. Their newspaper and billboard adverts were all over the Midlands too, especially the prize pig “drawing his own conclusion”: the “world’s best sausages.” The factory was a major loss for Brierley Hill when it closed in 1978, and the shops sold off.

 

BCLM will be recreating the smaller of Marsh & Baxter’s two butchers shops in Brierley Hill, from 70 High Street – a typical store, set in the early 1950s while meat was still rationed. Visitors will be able to learn about rationing, the history of the firm and of food production in the Black Country – and try freshly-made pork pies and faggots. We would love to talk to anyone with memories of this branch of Marsh & Baxter to help us recreate it inside and out. 

Get in touch

Please get in touch with us at collections@bclm.com or call 0121 557 9643.

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