A FAMILY run butchers with shops in Brookwood and Pirbright is celebrating 90 years in business.
Fulk Bros Family Butchers was established on June 7 1927, in Connaught Road, Brookwood with a shop and slaughterhouse. The family have many memories and stories of their time in business and some are recalled here.
An earlier butcher by the name of CH Fulk traded from a building called Aberdeen House in Star Hill, Woking.
It is thought that business was started as long ago as 1860, with a yard at the back of the premises to hold livestock. There are stories of ‘well to do’ people arriving at the shop and sitting in their horse-drawn carriages while their orders were taken.
At Brookwood, sheep and cattle arrived at the railway station from as far afield as the West Country and Scotland. They were then driven into fields in Lye Road until needed. Gate boys were employed to make sure garden gates along the route were closed to ensure the animals did not stray.
Many years ago drovers brought cattle and sheep from Chichester and Barnham in West Sussex to the Woking area, the journey taking three days. Some were dropped off at other butchers along the way. Evidently, a drover known as ‘Dawky’ was paid three shillings for his work. Back then lambs cost seven shillings and six pence (37.5p). Today Fulk Bros pays £75 per lamb, plus slaughtering and delivery costs.
Before modern refrigeration, ice was used to keep the meat cool. Large blocks of ice were delivered from an ice factory in Guildford. At the end of each week all the melted ice had to be swept out. Today slaughtering of the livestock Fulks Bros buys is outsourced.
The Pirbright shop once had three window shutters and during freezing winters braziers were used in the shop to stop the fresh meat freezing! Early in the 1950s windows were installed and fridges were put in to make life easier.
Brookwood Hospital was once supplied with large quantities of pork, while animals were raised by Bob Fulk on farms in Pirbright and Normandy. His prize winning herd of Large White pigs were exported all over the world.
The original shop in Pirbright opened in 1938. It was on the side of the Cricketers pub. Where today’s shop is was once a cart shed.
Four generation of Fulks have been involved in the business that is now headed up by Jo Fulk. However, Tony Fulk is still firmly the face of the business. On the subject of its success and longevity, he said: “Quite simply, tradition, high quality meats, unique customer service and most of all our customers, many becoming lifelong friends.”
He likes to buy livestock ‘on the hoof’ directly from farms and markets and in 2015 his sausages were judged to be the finest in Surrey in a competition hosted by the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution.
If you have some memories or old pictures relating to the Woking area, call me, David Rose, on 01483 838960, or drop a line to the Woking News & Mail.
David Rose is a local historian and writer who specialises in what he calls “the history within living memory” of people, places and events in the west Surrey area covering towns such as Woking and Guildford. He collects old photos and memorabilia relating to the area and the subject, and regularly gives illustrated local history talks to groups and societies. Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org