Bridport butchers to appear in BBC documentary

Bridport butchers to appear in BBC documentary

HIDDEN HISTORIES: Richard Balson

FROM THE ARCHIVES: How the shop looked in years gone by

First published in Bridport
Last updated
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BRIDPORT butchers RJ Balson and Son will be the star of a BBC documentary about Britain’s oldest family businesses.

Richard Balson, the current owner of the butchers on West Allington, was followed by the cameras during the summer to shoot for next week’s programme, which takes a look into the history of the butchers, and its work today.

Mr Balson said: “They first got in touch with us about a year ago, and they started filming in May.

“They did about 24 hours of filming altogether, and were with us from May right through the summer season.

“They took us up to York to visit a medieval-style Shambles, which is what butchers were based in during medieval times, and also took us to Bath to do some research on the techniques of butchering.

“One of the highlights was about 18 months ago when they were digging up South Street for the gas works, they found the old Shambles and loads of old animal bones under the street.

“The filmmakers gave them to me, and I was identifying what animal they came from, and they said it was probably our ancestors who had buried the bones when they were working all those years ago. It was quite surreal.”

RJ Balson and Son was first established in Bridport in 1535 and they have remained in the town ever since.

The business has survived more than 50 recessions, the Industrial Revolution, two World Wars and the rise of supermarket and internet shopping.

Combined with the story of the butchers, the hour-long documentary will also focus on Bridport and its history as a popular market town, and how the desire for the town to become more civilised led to the family moving to their first shop in 1880.

A lot of the research for the programme was done at Bridport Museum with the help of staff there.

Mr Balson, who is the 26th generation of his family to be in charge at the butchers, added: “It is not only a great advert for our butchers but also a great advert for Bridport as well. They did a lot of filming of the town during the hustle and bustle of the summer season, and Bridport does come out really well in it.

“All of the family will be gathering to watch it, and the future of the butchers is safe with my son and grandson securing it for another two generations.”

The show will be aired on January 15 at 9pm on BBC Four.

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