THERE is a lot of celebrating going on this time of year.

But one particular West Dorset firm has spent much of this year celebrating as it marked 500 years of trading in Bridport - its quincentennial anniversary.

R.J Balson & Son, in West Allington, is England's oldest family business and Richard Balson is the current owner.

Richard is the 26th generation of his family to run the shop with his French brother-in-law Rodolphe Boulay.

He tells the Dorset Year Book 2016: "I have seen many changes in the butchery trade. Some 40 years ago when I first started; we only sold two types of sausages, plain pork and plain beef.

"Now we offer over 20 types of sausages, for example wild boar, duck and orange, pork and stilton, beef and horseradish, which have all won awards at different times."

R.J.Balson & Son was recently featured in a TV documentary on BBC4 called Hidden Histories, which traces the family history and involvement in the butchery craft from 1515 to the present day.

Richard has just finished writing a book called 500 Years Behind the Block, taking the reader on a journey from 1515 to the present day.

He recalls living and working in West Allington and the relationship with his father.

In 500 Years Behind the Block, Richard looks at different modes of transport used by the business.

Early deliveries were done on horse and cart or pony and trap.

For deliveries to be carried out, somewhere to tether the horse was needed.

When Richard started work, his first job on a Saturday morning was to pump up the tyres on the bicycles so that delivery could begin.

Richard's father recalls the story of when his father 'Pop' used to cycle to Lyme Regis on his bike without gears, to be rewarded with a bread and dripping sandwich when he got there.

From the 1960s, Saturday morning deliveries were done on the trade bike.

This bike still sits proudly outside the shop as an advert.

Richard recalls that one of his more memorable deliveries was when he had just learnt to drive at 17.

He writes: "It was a hot summer's day, I walked up the garden path and round to the back door, and there was my customer lying naked on her back sunbathing.

"Well, I didn't know where to look and I was certainly more embarrassed than she was.

"She grabbed a towel and covered her slender body, and invited me inside to pay me for my goods!"

*The Dorset Year Book 2016 is available for £7.50 from Dorchester TIC, Books Afloat in Weymouth and Cards and Celebrations at Easton, Portland.