I haven't been in touch with Notts Gen for a very long time since my Father's
(Jack Taylor) death in 2007 but what wonderful reminiscences the Pork Pie discussion
brought back to me, although I feel I may have missed part of the thread.
Dad always said that Pork Farms pies were as near as you could get to the
"best". Sadly, I think he may be disappointed in what seems to be a recipe
change in the last year or so when they started looking rather pinkish and less
"meaty" with less flavour, although I have found recently that they are now
producing a "Melton Mowbray" version much more like their originals.
I collected a few recipes from old Butcher trade books but I seem to recall there were
once some good online recipes from one of these original books which was owned by
Dewhurst's. Different areas of the country had their own herb/spice mixes for
Jack Taylor's own family had owned Taylor's Butchers in Warsop from circa
1850's (as well as, I think, a location in Cuckney) until all closed after WWI. He
knew the Warsop Bowring butcher's family from childhood during 1920's and was
eventually apprenticed to them around 1936.
After WWII he worked at Metheringham's in Warsop (which was eventually owned by the
Davies family) until around late 1950's/early 1960's and used to deliver around
the area in a van or even on his army skis when the weather was bad! He used to deliver
to Welbeck Estate and remembers the old Duchess often asleep in "the parlour" on
his visits. The Duke of Portland once asked to see exactly what a wartime/post-war
"ration" involved and that he was quite shocked at the limited amounts -
Welbeck obviously had its own resources!
Dad had a Killing Licence and, as his own Father before him, was often called upon by
members of the community, especially at Christmas and during wartime and post-war
rationing (when people kept their own pigs), to kill and treat meat to prepare ham and
bacon ... some of which I remember him still doing during 1960's.
He learned his trade both from his own Father Joe Taylor and most certainly from the
Bowrings (was it Cal and his wife Pol originally who lived in a caravan around Warsop
Windmill area? ... sorry I haven't had a chance to check all my notes but he told some
rare tales about the personalities and experiences!).
Joe Taylor, in particular, was often called upon at Christmas to kill geese and his wife
was able to keep some of the fat to make into goose-grease for winter chest infections - I
think it was to rub on the chest and wrap in flannel as well as to swallow a spoonful!
Dad knew the Pork Butcher trade from start to finish ... I recall visiting
Metheringham's back yard pigs to feed them at weekends and holidays which must have
been mid 1950's. He always said that those who did the rebuild on the site must have
wondered where all the old bones came from ... in the days when butchers recognised any
animal condition that made meat unsafe and therefore killed and buried them on site!
The old saying is that you can used every part of a pig ... except the squeak!!! Dad
certainlly knew all having been brought up in the trade where they bought in the animals
and all that was sold was made from it and/or used to make other items to sell.
His knowledge was well-used in WWII in Italy when his group were hungry and he borrowed
his captain's gun to kill a pig they "acquired" and then burn off the hairs
by setting it alight with a cover of hay as used on the continent ... the traditional
method "at home" was to pour boiling water over the dead animal and then scrape
off the hairs with a special tool known as a Pig Scraper, often with a hook at the back to
pull out toe-nails. Dad even buit an oven out of oil drums to cook the main carcass and
sorted some kind of smoking system using a stove-burner so they managed to eat well for a
My Aunt also worked for Metheringhams and I still have a lovely collection of Pork Pie
Moulds in different sizes - some she gave me and another I had made especially for my
Father who continued to make Pork Pies in his last years.
Something I know I mentioned some years ago was the annual Gooseberry Pork Pie Fair at
Mansfield. One of the stalls used to make raised hot-crust pies full of fruit, hence the
Thank you for some wonderful memories!!!!
All Kind Thoughts and a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!!
Message Received: Dec 23 2013, 09:07 AM
From: "Brian Binns"
To: nottsgen(a)rootsweb.com, leicestershire-plus(a)rootsweb.com
Subject: [NTT] Pork Pies at Christmas
My recent posting on Christmas recipes has been expanded on the
Leicestershire forum to a discussion on Pork Pies, and as the history of
local producers concerns both Notts and Leics, I am posting this summary to
In the early 1940s, Ken Parr, a recently qualified baker, took out a loan to
set up his own pie shop in Nottingham. He developed a reputation founded on
good baking, and developed the first "original" pork pie based on an old
recipe, with signature dark and crispy pastry. He then bought another local
pie shop, founded in 1931 which traded under the name Pork Farms, which he
adopted for all shops after that.
In the mid-1960s, Parr's business was bought by food tycoon W. Garfield
Weston who made Parr Chairman. In 1969, rival Nottingham pie company TN
Parr, formerly owned by Parrs uncle, but then by Samworth Brothers, bought
out Pork Farms, again bringing together the two companies together under the
Pork Farms brand. In 1971, the group was floated on the London Stock
Exchange as Pork Farms Ltd.
In 1978 the Samworth family sold Pork Farms to Northern Foods, later merged
by Northern with both Palethorpes of Market Drayton and Bowyers of
Trowbridge, Wiltshire to form Pork Farms Bowyers. Later the company sold the
Bowyers and Palethorpes pork sausage business and brands to concentrate on
baked meat products.
Northern Foods transferred the production of Pork Pies from Nottingham,
which they later came to regret. In 2007, the name of Melton Mowbray Pork
Pies became protected and they had to be made within a defined distance of
Melton Mowbray to qualify. The company then chose to close the Trowbridge
plant and invest £12million into the Nottingham plant to bring back and
increase Melton Mowbray Pork Pie production.
In the meantime, the Samworth Family had started building another food
empire starting with Ginsters Pasties in Cornwall and then expanding back
into the East Midlands. They now own Dickinson and Morris, probably the
iconic Melton Mowbray Pork Pie makers, and Henry Walker of Leicester, as
well as producing Melton Mowbray Pork Pies for most of the major
supermarkets in the UK.
Henry Walker is an interesting company. Walker & Son was founded in
Leicester 1824 by Mark Walker, who with his son opened a butchers shop on
Leicester High Street, in the early days their sausages were a hit! But then
they built a bakery and the famous Walkers pork pie was born! Leicester
loved our pies so much that thousands of families would buy them every week,
on Christmas Eve people would queue around the block just to purchase their
Walkers pork pie, your Christmas dinner table was not complete without one
and isn't to this day!
During the meat rationing of World War II, Walker & Son, diversified the
business and using the surplus fat of meat products and locally grown
potato's they began producing potato crisps, they were the original creators
of the famous snack brand. This side of the business then grew into Walkers
Crisps, once just a local Leicester company, but since being bought by
American giant PepsiCo has expanded into the biggest UK crisp and snack
manufacturer, and has expanded into Europe with the Lays brand.
Although brought up in Nottingham on Pork Farms Pies, I have to declare that
I actually prefer Walkers Pies, though their retail shops closed years ago,
and I havent bought one for years. Pork Farms shops also closed years ago,
so this Christmas we have bought a Melton Mowbray Pork Pie from Sainsburys,
which I believe will have been made by Walkers, as they are the biggest
(only) supplier of own label Melton Pies.
Pork Pie and Piccalilli on Boxing Day for me!
With best wishes to all I have had the pleasure to correspond with on these
forums over the past year.
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