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Holbeach butchers to cease trading after 60 years

Swepstones Butchers Holbeach'Customer Karl Strowlger leaves with sausages
Swepstones Butchers Holbeach'Customer Karl Strowlger leaves with sausages

Popular Holbeach butchers Swepstones will close in April after disappointed owners failed to sell the family business as a going concern.

John Swepstone (70) has worked in the business for 58 years and wife Phyllis (69) for 53 years.

They are good, proper Lincolnshire sausages and I haven’t found any others that taste the same or even compare.
Sweppies customer

There was an outpouring of goodwill for the couple as they announced on Facebook their decision to close the business and retire.

Loyal shopper Karl Strowlger told us: “I only ever eat ‘Sweppies’ sausages and have done for probably 20 years or more.

“They are good, proper Lincolnshire sausages and I haven’t found any others that taste the same or even compare.”

Swepstones will close on Saturday, April 28 and, meanwhile, Karl will stock up on sausages and may even buy a second freezer.

The closure was announced by Phyllis with a Facebook post and she says several people are buying freezers to stock up on sausages, meat pies and haslets,

Phyllis told us: “We have been trying to sell the business for two years. It hasn’t sold and we have had to make the decision to retire because of John’s hands. He’s got rheumatoid arthritis in both hands and he struggles to cut the meat now. It’s a condition that butchers get.”

She says they haven’t yet made retirement plans, adding: “We just want to see how John get’s on if he stops work.”

Their daughter Anna Jackson works in the business, as does Joshua, one of their four grandchildren.

The couple also have a son Mark, who doesn’t work with them.

Five people are based at the preparation factory in Battlefields Lane North, along with Phyllis, and John has a part-time assistant in the shop – with Phyllis and Anna helping him out on a Saturday.

The closure means staff jobs will go, although one of their team is past retirement age.

On April 6, Swepstones will have been trading for 60 years.

The business was started by John’s father, Eric, and Phyllis says there’s been a butcher’s on the site since the early 1920s.

Phyllis and John have thanked their loyal customers for trading with them for so many years, and have been touched by all of the goodwill messages they’ve received.

District councillor Tracey Carter, who represents Holbeach, said it’s sad to see John and Phyllis go because “they have been a huge part of the town”, but she wishes them a very happy retirement.

Swepstones are the last family butcher’s on the High Street in Holbeach, although the town is served by another popular butchers – Shearer’s – in Damgate Road.

Among posts on Facebook was one from a family living in the Cotswolds, whose relatives still send them Swepstone’s sausage rolls and haslets.

The post says: “We will be requesting some more be sent before you close. Enjoy your retirement after giving a wonderful service to the people of Holbeach.”

Another fan said: “Best haslet and pork pies there has ever been. Excellent service & will be the town’s loss.”

And at least one customer is going to find the shop hard to replace. He said: “It’s sad as I don’t like any burgers apart from Swepstones burgers as they are just so tasty and I’m going to miss the ribs we buy for the summer barbecue.”

But everyone agrees its time John and Phyllis had time to themselves.

• What are your feelings about these Holbeach legends? Email your letters to our editor: jeremy.ransome@iliffepublishing.co.uk

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