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Tony Whitcher, Amersham, 1970

1960-1980 Staff


I started work at Amersham in 1970 at the age of 15 as a trainee butcher. Living in the hostel on top of the shop, coming from Portland Dorset it was the first time l had been away from home and straight from school.
You grow up pretty fast in the hostels as there was a great age range 15 to 50 + with lads coming from all over the country. The first 3 weeks where at the training centre at Blackfriars learning the basic skills.
Travelling each day on the tube from Amersham into London was a great adventure walking down to the centre from Waterloo and meeting the lads on my course in a little cafe around the corner for a 7up before going in.
After the 3 weeks training and with numerous cuts on my hand l arrived downstairs to start work.
I had never done any washing or ironing, mum had only given me 3 school shirts to come away with and one very pale green one that l had for Sunday school.
As the white ones where not dry l wore the very pale green one only to be sent back upstairs by the manager mr chapman for being too flamboyant.
Not a great start, l soon mastered the art of only washing the collars and the fronts of white shirts!
Stan Hilldrith was the meat manager John Mepham his assistant, Joe Clarke and Bob Putman butchers and me. Amersham was one of the last manual shops, long marble counters with the butchery being in the front with 2 tills and a window display if l went out side to roll the blind down and then up once l must have done it ten times a day.
I did get to do a bit of butchery mainly boning out necks and shins for mince before being allowed onto the expensive cuts. I did get to serve on the counter and soon got to learn all the cuts from he price list.
I soon picked up the butchers back slang, and the retorts, like (customer) can l have half a pond of liver for my baby, sorry madam we don’t do part exchanges.
My starting wage was £8 9 shillings with £2 for board and lodgings.
I have loads of memories from the early days of my 30 years with Sainsbury’s as meat manger and deputy manager.

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