Traditional family butchers closes after half a century in the business

Popular butchers' shop might now be saved from the chop
Peter Speaight butchers may reopen under new ownership

Peter Speaight Butchers in Chapel Place has been forced to shut due to the ill health of its owner.

Mr Speaight, whose family has had a butcher’s shop in the town since 1972, has been closed since February 11. It is understood he will not be reopening but is looking to find a buyer to keep the shop going.

The family butchers provided not only traditional roasting joints, but also specialised in rarer meats including wild game and local veal.

It also had a delicatessen service, which was popular with both local workers and tourists.

If no buyer can be found, Speaight’s will be the second butchers shop in Tunbridge Wells town centre to have closed permanently in recent weeks.

JC Rook & Sons on Mount Pleasant ceased trading just before Christmas , with owners claiming staffing issues had forced a temporary closure – but the store failed to re-open.

And last year White’s of Tonbridge, which has been serving customers on Martin Hardie Way for nearly two decades, also shut its doors due to the owner’s ill health.

Roger Kelsey, Chief Executive of National Craft Butchers, the association that represents 1,000 of the UK’s 6,000 independent butchers shops, and which is based in Tunbridge Wells, says the news another shop had closed was ‘very sad’ but insisted ‘butchery was alive and well’ in the UK.

“It is always very sad when we hear of a shop closing, and in Tunbridge Wells this is the second one in recent months, with Rooks going before Christmas. Normally it is retirement that sees butchers close.”

But he added it was not ‘all doom and gloom’ in the butchery sector.

“All high streets are struggling and butchers are no different, but we are now seeing a shift from traditional shops to more butchers opening in food halls and farm shops, partly because they don’t have the same problems with high rents and rates that we do on the high street.”

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