A family butchers in Buckingham, known to have been a staple of the town for more than a century, is to cease trading.
Clays of Buckingham, of Market Hill, announced they are to close permanently on January 22, via a sign on their window.
It read: “It is with deep sadness we announce that after over 100 years of trading Clays of Buckingham has
now closed and will cease trading.
“Our family decision finishes a long term association with the butchery trade, and is based on the economic downturn within the High Street for small, skilled, independent traders such as ourselves.
“We wish to thank our loyal customers for your business and support during our ownership here at Clays.”
Chris Mullis-Serrano, a former employee, said: “I started there as a trainee butcher and slowly learnt a skill set under the watchful eye of Malcolm Allen.
“I was there for four years all told. The place was always vibrant and busy. Malcolm had a rapport with the customers like I had never seen. It is a very sad day for the town as a whole.
“The High Street has lost a valuable commodity which was a benefit to many, many people who did not drive. There was no contest Clays sold the best meat in the town. It feels like the small independents are being slowly squeezed to death. Where will it end?”
Rosemary Stuchbury, a lifetime customer, added: “This is the biggest loss to Buckingham that there really could be. They sold first quality meats, were always pleasant to deal with, and we had no queries with them whatsoever. It’s sad.
“This move away from the High Street which we are seeing will affect mature people, as they can get into town but can find it difficult to access these services out of town.”
The butchers have said that they will be reimbursing vouchers up to April 31 2018, and anyone looking to do so should contact Chandler Ray Solicitors on 01280 814040.
Customer Peter Gannaway commented: “It’s so sad to see this, Jackie, Malcolm and all staff had a personable approach which will be much missed.
"Excellent quality service and meat. Big loss to the town. Buckingham is certainly changing and if this news is typical of what we can expect from an expanded Buckingham, not for the better.”
Resident Claire Butcher added: “[Clays was a] lovely butchers, great service and meat, always well prepared and presented. It was even better when they had the deli with all those lovely pies, ham, cheese and pate.
“I work in the meat industry and seeing the closure of good high street butchers like these is very sad. But, unfortunately, customers often only use them for Christmas, BBQ’s and Special Occasions, so to keep our high street shops we must ‘use them or lose them’ - unfortunately it’s usually that simple.”
The building that housed Clays has a butchering history that extends beyond the name.
The family that started ‘Clays’ bought the store in the High Street that John Fisher, the fourth son of William Fisher of Aylesbury, had started as a butcher’s and Cattle dealership in the 1870s.
Ed Grimsdale, honorary local historian at Buckingham Old Gaol Museum, explains: “John Fisher sold up and moved to the Midlands at the end of World War One because there was a shortage of meat in Buckingham as all the local cattle had been slaughtered in the War effort.
“His own store opened only three days a week. In those days meat came on the hoof into the abattoir that stood next to the shop and was turned on the site from beast to barons of beef.”
In 1902, Fisher opened a ‘shorthorn heifer’ to find a remarkably large kidney weighing 80lb inside, 66lb more than expected from your average cow.
Ed added: “One drover lost a cow in London Road when it was spooked, apparently by the hissing of gas in a gaslamp.
The cow careered across town, frightening many pedestrians and then got stuck and died, caught between the rails and the buffers at Buckingham Station.”
In 1995, Barry Brazier took over ownership of the shop.