THE doors of a proud village butchers have closed for the last time after serving the community for 102 years.
The Stonehouse family has prepared and sold meats to the people of Greatham Village and the wider area since William Mitten Stonehouse and his wife Alice Elizabeth Stonehouse opened the butchers shop over a century ago.
The meat was delivered on horse and carts and the busy little firm carried on thriving until it was taken over by the hard-working pair’s son William Saxby Stonehouse, and his wife Wyn, in the 1950s.
The firm was later run by their sons John Stonehouse and then Jed Stonehouse, with the books being kept by their sister Kay.
The final owner, their brother Peter Stonehouse, 63, took over the butchers 19 years ago, after starting out as an early morning and weekend delivery boy aged 13, dropping off meats on his bike.
But after being unable to extend the lease on the property, and due to health problems with a hernia, Peter decided it was time to hang up his butcher’s hook and he sadly locked up the shop for the last time on New Year’s Eve.
Respected Peter, who is dad to Simon, and granddad to Sophia, two, and Poppy, aged five months, held back tears as he said: “I’m sad on two counts because on New Year’s Eve when we closed it was 48 years since the day I met and started courting my wife Jan.
“So although that’s a special day, it was very sad and emotional as well.
“I want to really thank everybody for their support and I will miss all of my customers, I’ve been delivering to people for 50 years since I started doing deliveries on my bike.
“There are some customers whose parents my dad delivered for and then I’ve continued delivering for their sons and daughters.
“I’ve had customers in here in tears, it’s the end of an era.”
He added: “My son cut up one of my old butcher’s aprons and put it on my granddaughter Sophia for the final day in the shop. It was lovely to see her running around with it on.”
Peter’s grandfather William Mitten Stonehouse opened the first butcher’s shop at number one High Street in the Hartlepool village in 1911. In the mid 20s, it moved across the road to Front Street, where it has remained ever since.
Peter says he will spend the next few weeks emptying the shop ahead of a hernia operation in February. He will then look for a job as a delivery driver.