The Dorset butchers which has been run by the same family for 500 years

  • Watch Claire Manning's report.


A butchers in Dorset has been running for so long, Henry VIII was on the throne when it first opened.

RJ Balson and Son has been run by the same family for 26 generations - serving up sausages for an incredible 505 years.

Its owner Richard Balson says is a "privilege" to have been in business for so long.

As soon as you step inside the butchers store, you will notice that every nook of the shop pays homage to the family's history.

In the 1500s, the butchers would have opened in the market square. It moved into its current shop in the centre of Bridport in Dorset in 1819.

The family have run 'R J Balson's' for 500 years

Mr Balson told ITV News West Country: "One of the stories I like to tell is that in 1545 when Henry VIII was watching the Mary Rose sail out of Portsmouth Harbour and it sunk before his eyes it was laden with our sausages and meat."

Richard said he was "always going to be a butcher", adding: "Even at school I never tried that hard because I knew I was coming into the business.

"I was very lucky to have worked with my father for 45 years and he taught me everything I know."

Richard has a son who himself has two sons, so he's hoping the business will continue for another 500 years.

Around 95 per cent of the meat sold in the store comes from within a 15-mile radius of its base in Bridport, Dorset.

Richard Balson, whose family have been running a butchers in Bridport for 500 years. Credit: ITV

He said: "I think one of the main reasons we have kept going is because we have kept it small and we love what we do.

"There are supermarkets in Bridport but we try to give a good shopping experience.

"We like to make shopping a pleasure and we've served generations of the same family for years.

"We like the personal touch, most of the customers are our friends and we know them by their first names, a big part of our job is talking to people and giving them some pleasure as well as good food."

Like every business, the pandemic has had an impact on RJ Balson and Son - but not all of it negative.

Over the years we have survived floods, fires, wars, health scares, recesssions and this pandemic has come along and challenged us but we're going to get over it.

Richard Balson

Richard said: "Although on one hand we have lost a lot of our restaurant and pub trade, we've seen an increase in people coming through the door who want to shop locally and avoid the crowds and the hustle and bustle in some of the major stores and just shop alone.

"Because we are abiding by all the Government guidelines they can shop in confidence here.

"A big part of what we do is making our staff safe and customers safe, which is what we've got to do, and I think some people have quite enjoyed a different way of shopping and finding out what a personal service we can give."


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