Scotts of Bletchley's Michael Katz passes away

Michael Katz, who has died in his 90s, is credited as the driving force that built Scotts of Bletchley into a household name in the meat industry in the decades after the Second World War. The company made previously expensive ham and meat products affordable for the masses.

Katz founded the company in partnership with Herman van Vlymen, owner of Dufair Products on Smithfield Market. He later bought out van Vlymen and was sole proprietor of the company until selling it some years later.

Key to his development of an affordable range of products was an informal relationship with Ron Burgess, who owned RBR Food Machinery. Together they developed the vacuum massager that enabled Katz to add value to hams.

Katz was a former Master of the Worshipful Company of Butchers. Another former Master Robin Pooley said: "He recognised that we Brits loved ham, but the majority of the population couldn't afford it except maybe at Christmas time as a special treat.

Michael will be long remembered in history as the man who brought ham to the masses, not just a Christmas treat but for many a daily lunch treat as the ham sandwich. The 4th Earl of Sandwich may have invented the sandwich, but it was made perfect by Michael Katz who filled it!"

Katz fled from Germany in the 1930s to find a country first worn down by The Great Depression then by the Second World War.

Pooley said that, in the circumstances, it took a great deal of courage for Katz to strike out on his own and then great skill to build what he said was one of the finest meat businesses in Britain.

The butchery tools of Katz's apprenticeship are now on display at Butchers' Hall under glass in a coffee table. "As an apprentice of the same craft myself, it lifts my spirits whenever I see them," said Pooley.

In later years and in gratitude to the help he received on coming to Britain in the 1930s, Katz gave generously to many charities, to the Butchers' Company and to the cause of meat education. For his efforts he was awarded an OBE.

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