Rodney Flett: Butchery through the ages

The world of butchery has had many faces and one Cumberland-based butcher Rodney Flett has had the pleasure of seeing many of those transformations over his 60 years in the trade.

Hailing from a farming background in the Orkney Islands, and his two older brothers being butchers, he soon found himself drawn to the trade.

Starting as the errand boy, things were a little different for a 12 year old lad back in 1952. I recall peddling the butchers bike through the narrow streets of Kirkwall, with sides of pig strapped across the basket, bringing them back from the slaughterhouse for display on the marble counter.

The family moved to Cumberland in 1954 and I found myself an apprenticeship at the Cooperative. It was there that I learned the finer art of butchery and had the fortune to be shown the secrets of how to make real Cumberland Sausage, blending the seasonings by hand.

I was taught well and soon found myself managing butcher shops around Cumberland, picking up little secrets along the way. Orkney folk are not daft and in 1969 I spotted an opportunity to secure a lease on a prime site in Workington. I sneaked down to London to pester the landlords and managed to close the deal before any of the big names could elbow their way in

That was the beginning of Fletts Butchers and soon my reputation was known around Cumberland. I like to think that my shop was considered one of the smartest in the county and I was respected as being a very accomplished butcher and producer of the finest Cumberland Sausage around.

I have tried to retire more than once, but folk would insist that I make just one more batch

Well, I will be hanging up my apron for one final time and heading for Orkney with my son Stuart where I will spend a few weeks having a well-earned rest after 60 years at the block.

Stuart shares the secret, so panic not. Real Cumberland Sausage will still be around for a long time to come.

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