BUTCHERS and pie-makers H Taylor and Sons, known to the Darlington masses simply as Taylor’s, has survived two world wars, the Great Depression of the Thirties, and tough post-war times, so it is perhaps no surprise that the company is still going strong.

This month it celebrates its 100th birthday and recalling its rise from a small singular shop in the town into one of the North East’s most popular firms today.

As part of its centenary celebrations, The Northern Echo visited Taylor’s to speak to staff about the family firm and to find out what makes it so special.

Paul Taylor-Garthwaite is a fourth generation director of the family firm, has worked there for 41 years, and says he’s never had a job outside of the family butchers.

Describing how he followed in the footsteps of his family to work for the business started by his great grandfather, he said: “It was a decision made early on to come into the business and continue the family values.

“We’re very proud of the name that’s been built up over the years and we just do our best to keep the standards high and carry on the tradition in the hope we can continue for another 100 years.”

The Northern Echo: Paul Taylor-Garthwaite and the firm's famous pork piesPaul Taylor-Garthwaite and the firm's famous pork pies

What makes the business special, Paul says, is the people involved. From regular customers to the workers who continue to turn up every day, it is this dedication that has helped Taylor’s thrive over the past 100 years.

He added: “It’s a huge age spectrum we have here; from kids at college to pensioners.”

It is perhaps most well known for its pork pies, which it embraces, by making up to 10,000 a day. The firm’s bags tell it as it is: “The noted pie shop”. Sausage rolls are second favourite, mince and onion pies third.

So, what’s the secret to the pastry delight? “Simplicity,” says Paul who adds that all of the firm’s recipes have been passed down over the years with the majority staying the same.

Though the shop expanded, and the wholesale business grew, it’s only in the past decade that Taylor’s has gone in for what might be termed out-of-town shopping in a bid to win a bigger slice of the action.

The Northern Echo: Taylor's butchers on Skinnergate, Darlington. Picture: STUART BOULTONTaylor's butchers on Skinnergate, Darlington. Picture: STUART BOULTON

Shops at Framwellgate Moor and at Belmont, both in Durham’s suburbs, in Ferryhill, Newton Hall and Richmond have all been a success. 

They also have a hot food counter at the shop and the cafe where, as well as hot baguettes and pie and peas, you can get a full pork dinner, complete with roast potatoes, mushy peas, crackling, stuffing and apple sauce.

The Northern Echo: Shop Assistant Janette Chapman at Taylors in Skinnergate, Darlington. Picture: STUART BOULTONShop Assistant Janette Chapman at Taylors in Skinnergate, Darlington. Picture: STUART BOULTON

Behind the counter, Janette Chapman has enjoyed 27 years working at the Skinnergate store.

“It’s like a family,” she said while praising the camaraderie among staff and the personal relationship with customers.

An expert at making scotch eggs – the butchers produces up to 1,000 a day in the store – Ms Champman described work at the store as “non-stop” but has stuck by the business.

She added: “I love working with customers and I’ve been able to see people grow up over all the years. A lot of the people are elderly and it’s nice to have a chat with these people, it makes a lot of difference.”

The Northern Echo: David Mullen's work at taylor's has spanned four decades. Picture: STUART BOULTONDavid Mullen's work at taylor's has spanned four decades. Picture: STUART BOULTON

For David Mullen, working at Taylor’s motivated him to open his own butchers store before returning to Skinnergate. He’s now worked at the Darlington firm for 22 years over the course of four decades.

He said: “It’s been a big part of my life, I’ve seen lots of changes, but I’ve got some very fond memories of Taylor’s. We have a good reputation for quality food and meat.

“I remember people queuing up all down the street for pease pudding and all parts of the pig, and it was filled with people of all ages. It’s always been busy here.”

The Northern Echo: Shop Assistant Ann Simpson. Picture: STUART BOULTONShop Assistant Ann Simpson. Picture: STUART BOULTON

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