End of an era as 130-year-old Lancaster butchers shop closes

Paul Smith inside Bowerham Butchers, which closes on Saturday after 130 years in business.
Paul Smith inside Bowerham Butchers, which closes on Saturday after 130 years in business.

One of the Bowerham community’s most established businesses shuts its doors for the final time this weekend.

Paul Smith, who runs Bowerham Butchers with his wife Elaine, is closing the shop on Saturday due to escalating rent costs.

Bowerham Butchers, which closes on Saturday after 130 years in business.

Bowerham Butchers, which closes on Saturday after 130 years in business.

The well-known business has been a stalwart in Bowerham since it first opened as a purpose-built butchers in the late 1880s, and Paul himself has run it since April 2003.

“I have had some very happy times here,” the 54-year-old said. “It was my first venture in owning my own business and I thought I would retire here to be honest.

“I always wanted to have my own shop and this was a good opportunity.

“The last couple of years have got harder but it’s a real shame to have to close.”

Bowerham Butchers, which closes on Saturday after 130 years in business.

Bowerham Butchers, which closes on Saturday after 130 years in business.

Paul grew up in Bowerham, going to Bowerham Primary School and then Greaves School.

He went on to work at the butchers in the former Lancaster Market – and was the last to leave when the building burnt down in 1984.

The couple – who have sons Callum and Christopher – now live on Moorlands but know a lot of the Bowerham residents through their time in the area.

“We will miss a lot of people,” Paul said. “I am a Bowerham lad so I know everyone and everyone knows me. It’s just so sad.”

Bowerham Butchers, which closes on Saturday after 130 years in business.

Bowerham Butchers, which closes on Saturday after 130 years in business.

Paul estimates he has helped save about eight lives during his time at the shop, including an old lady who collapsed and an elderly man who was found collapsed at his home after Paul called the police.

“You look out for people in a community like this,” he said.

Paul is now considering a change of career into healthcare once the shop has closed.

“I enjoy helping people and can give a little bit back,” he said.

Before that, he will help out at Preston’s of Heysham butchers during the busy Christmas period.

Paul thanked his staff, past and present, for their work over the years; Colin Watson, Tony Parkinson and Stephen Brown.

Son Callum also spent a period working at the shop, and Patrick Hinchey currently works on a Saturday.

Paul also thanked his parents Carolyn and Tom for all their support over the years.

“We have done well out of it, we’ve had a good living and made a lot of friends,” Paul said.

“I will miss all the older people particularly, because they all come in for a chat.

The doors will close at 5pm on Saturday November 3, and Paul and Elaine will then mark the end of an era with friends and family at the Bowerham Hotel.

“I want to thank all our customers over the years,” Paul added. “I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve them all. It will feel very strange when I close the doors for the last time. I never thought this would happen, I thought I would be here until retirement so it’s very sad.

“It’s a real shame that it’s happened like this.”