Old Mo’s fond food memories of town
The delectable faggots from Grimley’s
LOOKING Back reader Old Mo’ has been sent some more brilliant recollections into the newspaper.
The last time he wrote in Old Mo spoke of Simpkin and James around the time of Loughborough Fair and this time round his memories have a distinctly foody flavour to them.
Old Mo writes: “Many, I am sure, will remember the Cattle Market, where the Christmas Fat Stock Show took place, and where the finest animals were awarded prizes. Here, the butchers of the county and our local butchers would bid against each other for their prize beasts.
“The winners would display rosettes and prizes in their shops. They were so proud to present the ‘best’, and impress their customers.
“This was a period when customers showed their loyalty to their butcher.
“If a butcher sold his business, the goodwill was sold on too. In those days, there was such a vast choice of shops. One remained loyal, and in return, was offered good service.
“There were two types of butcher: the Pork butcher, who originally sold only pork products, and the others, who only sold pork when there was an ‘ R’ in the month!
“Loughborough was well known for its pork butchers, who all prided themselves on their productions. For example, Lac- ey’s, of Derby Square, sent their pork pies all over the country, and would deliver them within 24 hours.
“It was not ‘Christmas’ unless one had the traditional Christmas morning breakfast of a Lacey’s Pork Pie.
“Then, one remembers the old established Hasenfuss pork butcher, in Ward’s End.
“Their finest quality products contained no preservatives, therefore needed to be consumed within two or three days. Troubling, then, to have to acknowledge that, during the First World War, this family shop was attacked, and windows were broken, just because the family were of German origin.
“The first lady Mayor of Loughborough (1947-8), Miss Hilda Dormer, was a member of the Dormer family, whose butcher’s business, located in Derby Square, next to Lacey’s, was well known for delicious faggots!
“Also well remembered was Barker, the butcher’s business on Toothill Road. On Tuesday teatimes, one took an empty basin along to the shop, and returned home with a basinful of hot faggots and gravy!
“For the present generation, the most notable butcher who produced faggots was Grimley’s, in Baxter Gate, until they closed. They were the last of the greatest!
“However, ‘what goes around, comes around’, as the saying goes, and perhaps it is not too late for an enterprising person to obtain the secrets of delectable faggots from the Grimley family. Perhaps the last chance to retain part of the borough’s past?
“During the war there were certain foods that were not rationed. Sausage was one such food. This was because sausage could neither be called ‘pork’ nor ‘beef’; they consisted of only a percentage of meat.
“The Taylors, a brother and sister from Wymeswold, stood on Loughborough Market, selling homemade sausages and pies. Enormous queues formed there.
The business of Roberts and Birch, in the Market Place, had queues forming from 6 o’clock in the morning, just to buy their sausages and pies!
“At one period, they made luxury game sausages. These were almost always available, due to the high price.
“What came first? Money or food?
“Nothing today can compare to the taste of these butchers’ products, especially when we consider the wartime restrictions that were imposed upon them. Maybe it was just the tasty natural seasonings or the lack of additives that delighted our taste buds! Certainly, their art of using the “best one had” died with them all.
“Other thoughts of food come to mind.
“At Christmas, before the war, a charitable event would be organised, which was known as ‘Rob- in’s Breakfast’. This involved the poorest local children going to the Town Hall, where meals were provided by generous businessmen.
“One would see the children making their way to the Town Hall, early in the morning of Christmas Eve. (or was it Christmas Day morning?
“Are there any Loughborough Echo readers who can shed light upon this, for me, please?)
“During the war, the old Labour Club building in Fennel Street was used as a British Restaurant (a non-profit Government run establishment) that provided meals at a reasonably priced alternative to the local commercial eating places.
“My aunt managed one of the British restaurants, and I well remember enjoying a meal of sausages and mash on Saturdays, at a cost of 6 old pence.
“In the evening, my uncle had a different role to perform - to go and put rat poison down; essential for the public’s health, without a doubt.
“My final thought: People needed fuel to cook their food, and I remember the Gas Works in Greenclose Lane, which would be packed solid with people with trucks, prams etc., waiting to obtain a ration of coke, at 6 old pence a tranche.
“Whether it be sausages or fuel, it was quite natural to queue for everything that was off ration! What days those were!”
Artist’s impression of shop redevelopment printed in the Loughborough Echo March 20th 1964, at the corner of Churchgate and Victory Passage. and included Bailey’s butchers. There had been a butcher’s on the same site since 1837. Mr J T Bailey took over the premises in 1909.