ANYONE who has shopped Darlington’s famous covered market will be familiar with the white and blue awning of Fenwick’s family butcher.

The business is run today by brothers Nick and Nigel, but started when Ray, their father, quit his job as a publican and bought a butcher’s instead. Nigel, already a butcher himself, jumped at the chance to be a part of it. Nick, fresh out of school and without any idea of what to do next, took the job for lack of a better option. But, 25 years later, he says he wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.

What is it like being a butcher?

Well you have to be willing to get up early. When we first started I used to get up at half four because it took so long to get ready in the mornings and I’d never done the job before. After I while I got used to my business and settled into it so I only have to get up at five now!

When I come in first job is to get everything cut up for the day. We get hinds of beef in that can weigh up to 200lb, roughly 90kg. Whole pigs weigh about 60kg as well so they’ve pretty heavy things. We get that all stripped down into the different cuts and then it’s down to serving customers.

What did you want to be growing up?

If you’d asked me what I wanted to be when I was 13 I would’ve said a footballer for Leeds United, but that was never any more than a dream. I wasn’t really good enough.

I left school at 16 and didn’t know what I wanted to do so when my dad said he had the opportunity of buying a butcher’s I said I wanted to do it too. I knew I couldn’t work in an office. Sitting down all day behind a computer just isn’t for me.

How has the job changed over the years?

Well its sort of come full circle. Years ago you used to get people buying all their meat on the bone, then even up to a couple of years ago if something had any bones in it you struggled to sell it, but now people want the bones back in again. It could be something to do with people having less money, or just knowing more about meat because the bone gives a lot of flavour.

Nowadays because more women are working full-time prepared stuff like breaded chicken and pork in sauce is doing a lot better. Years ago there used to be someone at home to spend all day preparing the dinner but now everyone’s at work so you want something you can just do quickly when you get in.

What’s the best thing about being a butcher?

The customer contact is the best thing about it. You really do get all sorts in here and the stories you hear sometimes are just incredible! Some of them I can’t even talk about. We have a good set of regulars who come in as well so it’s always good to catch up with them.

What does the future hold?

I’m happy to keep the business going with my brother, and keep it in the family. Other than that, I don’t really know!