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Mrs Doreen Gineil (nee Sparrow)

There were two butchers shops in Feltwell when I started to work for Mr Hopkins in 1955. One in the High Street owned by Mr Doy who was also the coal man. His grandson Robin Boyd and I were very good friends in school as we were both interested in sports.

Mr Hopkins had the shop in Short Beck and working for him, when I started, was Len Fuller from Methwold. He was around Mr Hopkins age, in his 50s. They had worked together as young men in a butcher’s shop in Methwold and often talked about old times. Doug Thomson was working there also and he lived in Munsons Place, also Colin Greenacre of Methwold. Both were in their 20s. The young man in the photo was called Smith, he was younger.

Mr Hopkins and his wife, who I was very fond of, lived behind the shop on Short Beck and later had a new bungalow built next to it, both set back from the road. I don’t know who lives there now. In 1956 Mr Hopkins bought the shop in the High Street from Mr Doy. I remember we were very excited at the time as it was all remodelled with refrigerated cases in the windows and counters. It was all so nice and clean and new.

On Tuesdays Mr Hopkins would go to Kings Lynn market and Wednesdays to Bury St Edmunds to buy his animals and live stock for meat for next week. He always said he bought the best animals at the market and I’m sure he did, he liked to have the best. Mondays they would slaughter the animals on the property in a slaughterhouse that backed up to the back lane. They were killed with a stun gun – that was the law then. Len and Doug did most of the killing but Mr Hopkins was there also. My boots sat at the slaughterhouse door. I would put them on if there was a phone message or I had to write down the animal’s weight. The blood would run down the drains. It never fazed me at all at the time, now I’m sure I would faint!

Most of the time I just took the money and made out the bills and tickets for the meat. When times were slow I would package up the sausages and cut up the livers and package them. I can’t believe I did that! We used to have a lot of Turkeys, Ducks, Chickens and Pheasants at Christmas season hanging in the shop, out back and all over the place.

The Pheasants came from farms around – Porter, Story, Spencer and others. My Dad (Chip Sparrow) was a bit of a poacher, he could hit a pheasant with a sling shot with no trouble.

After we moved into the new shop in High Street Doug got married and lived in the house joining the shop. Colin also got married to Margaret Cooper who worked at Waterman’s newsagent in St Mary’s Street and also lived in Munsons Place.

Mr Hopkins had a very large business. We delivered twice a week to Southery, Southery Fen, Methwold, The Hythe, Northwold, Hockwold, Mundford, Weeting, Brandon, Fetwell RAF camp, that was very large at the time, and also Feltwell village. Mr Saunders came to work in the new shop but only in the shop, he never went on deliveries. There was a lot of joking with the customers and between Mr Hopkins and Saunders who was from Brandon. Mr Hopkins would tell customers how nice it was to have his family work for him. He would pass Doug and I off as his son and daughter. I’m sure some people believed him. Mr Saunders would just roll his eyes and laugh. Mr Saunders, who was around Mr Hopkins age, was later killed riding his bike to or from Brandon to work. That was very sad.

Mr Hopkins liked the Chequers. He would say, "In the 40s when there was rationing, people would say, ‘Let me buy a drink Stan,’ and ask for a bigger roast on Sundays."

I always used to think how could you ration a piece of meat, but I guess they had to.

Mr Hopkins’ hobby was his greyhounds. Mr Storey, his friend, also had them. I used to walk and exercise Mr Hopkins’ dogs for him for 10 shillings extra a week. I’d have three of them on a leash at a time and walk them up the Hythe road. I must have been mad but they never got away from me, must have felt sorry for me. Feltwell people have always kept greyhounds, we had one at my house. Feltwell had the fastest greyhound in the country at one time.

Peter was Mr Hopkins’ son, he was away at school most of the time I worked for his father. He would be about 57 now.

My time working at the butchers shop was very pleasant as was most of my life that I spent in Feltwell.

Back to Times Remembered  Read Stan's retirement article from a local newspaper.