Saturday, 13 August 2022

Butcher celebrates half a century of chopping meat

Butcher celebrates half a century of chopping meat

A BUTCHER who once sold Rod Stewart a Christmas turkey is celebrating half a century in the trade.

Terry Colby joined Gabriel Machin in Market Place, Henley, as an apprentice in 1968 when he was still a teenager.

He had left the Piggott School in Wargrave at age 15 to start earning a wage but wasn’t sure what he wanted to do.

Then he took a part-time job at Machin’s and enjoyed it so much that he went full-time.

The shop, which was then owned by the Marett family, was a traditional butcher’s.

But when Colin Marett, who later married Mr Colby’s sister Linda, took charge he expanded the business to sell other produce, such as fish and cheese.

Mr Colby, now 65, would cycle to work from home every morning.

He recalled: “I don’t know if I did want to go into it but I had six sisters and a brother so I had to go out in to the world and bring some money in.

“I was a Saturday boy at Jennings in Wargrave and because my sister was going out with the son of the owner of Gabriel Machin I became a Saturday boy there too. Then they offered me a job and I found that I loved it. I enjoyed learning the skills — there was so much to it. I learned from people who really knew what they were doing and I loved having the skills.

“When my brother-in-law Colin took it over we developed the shop together. He had lots of ideas and we changed the place.

“ Over the years we added to the shop, including fish, which was a great success.”

Mr Colby, who lives in Peppard Lane, Henley, with wife Jeanette, remained at Machin’s for 38 years.

He said: “People would ask how I could stay there all that time but I was helping to create something — it was great.” In 2006 he was offered the chance to buy Gabriel Machin by Mr Marett but instead decided to leave after being approached by a customer who wanted to open a farm shop in Stadhampton.

This venture did not work out but Mr Colby joined another new farm shop in Wallingford.

He worked there for six years before buying the business in 2015 and setting up Wallingford Butchers with Tom Orpwood.

Mr Colby said: “When I left Gabriel Machin I didn’t realise how much it was going to affect me. I had helped build it and when I left I was pining for it. I’m quite fortunate that I’ve made something in Wallingford now.”

During his years at Machin’s, he served rock musicians and TV stars.

“I have met some lovely people,” he said. “Because of the area we are in I’ve served lots of celebrities. Once I sold Rod Stewart a Christmas turkey. I was in the shop alone and when he was in there you could feel the atmosphere.

“We also used to have a lot of people filming things. Antony Worrall Thompson was in the shop a few times filming The Good Food Show.”

Mr Crosby said he had seen the trade change since he began work. “People used this type of shop much more in those days as supermarkets weren’t what they are now,” he said.

“Gabriel Machin was extremely busy and I can remember the queues out of the door on Fridays and Saturdays.

“With the high street suffering, more people are going online now and we’ve added that, too, over the last six months. We use social media — if you can’t beat them, join them!”

Mr Colby marked his 50th anniversary by recreating his daily bike ride from Wargrave to Henley.

He said: “Back then, three of us would cycle in at 7.30am. You couldn’t do it now, it’s so different.

“I wanted to do it again on the Monday that would have been exactly 50 years but I was working so I went on the Sunday.

“We drove over and then I cycled back to Henley. It was a wonderful day and I had some friends who met me at home for a champagne brunch. I had to do it but it was a shame I couldn’t get in touch with the other two chaps.”

My Colby isn’t planning to hang up his apron until he’s 70.

He said: “I love the work and I’ve got more enthusiasm than anyone else in the shop. I’m up at 5.30am and get home at 6.30pm. I really enjoy it.”

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