turning the clock back
(Left) An upgrade of the late 1800’s Slaughterhouse used till the 1950’s. Photo Courtesy of Bill Sanders. (Right) Butcher shop Malcom Ritchie circa 1900.

As mentioned earlier James Ritchie Snr – (sometimes referred to as Jas) bought the Free Trade Butchery as an outlet for animals produced on Shannon farm which was also owned by James (Snr).

On 4th July 1893 in the Cromwell Argus started advertising in the Cromwell Argus newspaper that “Jas Ritchie and Sons” that purchased the Free Trade Butchery.  It goes on to say that “Families waited on daily for orders. Meat delivered at town prices throughout the district. Supplies of Mutton, Beef and Pork available”

They needed licenced premises to prepare the animals so the meat could be sold in the shop.  One was obtained, and a Slaughterhouse was built on Shannon Farm. The remains of this building can still be seen hear the hill, approximately opposite the Racecourse entrance. This was in use till the mid/late 1950’s when a more modern facility was built on another property in Ripponvale. 

In 1907 James (Snr) retired from the business and Malcolm took over and was assisted by his wife and brothers Robert and John. In 1916 full ownership of the butchery assets and associated properties were transferred to Malcolm. 

After his son Jim (my grandfather) married in 1921 he joined him in the business. Malcolm decided to expand the business and leased another shop opposite the main shop in Melmore Street and moved the sausage/ small goods making part of the business there for Jim to manage.

Meat deliveries.

A horse and a cart with a cabinet on the back was used for the deliveries.

During a delivery to Lowburn, the Horse and Cart driven by brother Robert was crossing the river on the punt. When it was nearly at the other bank the horse in front of Roberts decided to back up forcing Robert, the cart, and the horse through the gate at the back of the punt into the river. The horse and cart were lost however Robert was rescued by the punt keeper’s wife who witnessed the incident.

Malcolm sold the business to Charlie Sanders in 1924. It stayed in the Sanders family ownership and latterly operated by grandsons Charlie and Bill. They moved the business to the new mall in 1985 and closed it in 1987.

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