Monday 30 January 2012


by Dave Roberts
From Carole Hughes' collection of Middlewich memorabilia comes this reminder of the time when our town had one of the finest butcher's shops in the area, before the march of progress and some heartbreaking vandalism wrecked it forever in the 1980s.
The story of the unfortunate end of this Middlewich institution is told in The Butchered Butchers Shop, but here is a reminder of happier times, just prior to decimalisation of the currency, when Vernons were keeping up the old standards and traditions of the former Fittons butchers shop on Hightown.
Even the bills had a pleasingly old-fashioned air about them, with assurances such as

All our Meat kept in Cold air Stores during hot weather,

the promise of

Free delivery to all parts daily

and the delightful plea:

It will be esteemed a favour if Customers would send Luncheon orders the previous day

- beautifully phrased, and typical of the old-world courtesy observed by shopkeepers until rampant consumerism started to get the better of us all, not too long after this bill was issued.

The weights of the goods sold are, of course, resolutely shown in pounds and ounces (as, remarkably, they still are today. The British swallowed decimalisation with scarcely a murmur, but it was a different matter when it came to weights and measures. Officialdom seems to have just about given up on the issue and, though we tolerate all those litres and kilos and so on, we still insist on having our weights and measures displayed properly as well).

Having shown myself in past Diary entries to be no great shakes at deciphering these old bills, I'll declare myself open to correction on the details of the goods Mr Sant (or, more likely, Mrs Sant) bought forty-two years ago,but here's what I think they were:
A leg of lamb (2lb 8 1/2 ozs) at 15s 4d
1lb liver at 2s
2oz sausages at 2s
and 10 oz ham at 3s 10d

And isn't it amazing how those of us who remember the old pre-decimal currency can still add up in 'old money'and still do so whenever we see a bill like this...

So it's 10d, add 4d, add another 10d that's 24d - that's 2s, so carry over into the next column. 2s add 3s, add, 2s, add another 2s, add 15s, add 7s - that's 31s, so put down the 11s and carry over the pound.
That'll be £1 11s 0d. Thank you.


  1. Yes and of course we remember that one-third of a pound is 6/8, two-thirds is 13/4. Try dividing the modern pound by thirds.
    Could this bill have been made out to the family of Chris Koons ne Sant? Or perhaps Ian Sant's family?
    Anyone remember the maths book 'H.E. Parr School Mathematics'? I have an old copy if anyone is interested in doing some real old fashioned sums.

  2. Chris Koons picked up on the name Sant when we featured another of Carole Hughes'documents in A Middlewich Diary' and I know that she and Carole have been in touch with each other, but whether they or not they found out that they were related I don't know.
    Carole's relations lived at no 40 St Ann's Avenue. He was John Henry Sant, and his wife was Annie Sant. She died in 1981.

  3. Yes, Daniel & I were trying to figure out who this was, but since it is one of Carole's mementos, it was probably one of her relations.

    I still haven't managed to make definite connections to Carole's Sants but I'm sure we're related in there somewhere, especially since we both have Sants & Palins in our family trees... it just takes a while when you're 5500 miles away, needing the census they won't release & trying to make connections with people who are still living (ancestry doesn't show those!) LOL

  4. And isn't that just great? Exactly the sort of connections and dialogue between people that we want to encourage.


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