What does it mean to be a pork butcher?

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30 January 2015


Pies, pease pudding, fresh meat and, of course, the legendary Saveloy Dip. There are few shops where you’d find such an eclectic mix of food items on your high street as we stock at Dicksons. And certainly nowhere, we would argue, where the quality and taste is as good.

So what exactly is a “pork butcher” and how has our style of shop come about in the North East?


Purveyors of pork products and the original fast food

The pork butcher was originally a German creation. Products such as the smoked sausages we serve today can be traced back to 19th century Germany where they were, and to a large extent still are, a staple food. The pork butchers in Germany placed significant emphasis on curing pork products such as bacon, ham and gammon, as well as making sausages, black puddings and pastries featuring pork.

It is this combination of food preparation; ready-made options such as cooked pies, pastries and sandwiches; and a focus on pork-based fresh meat options that distinguishes a “pork butcher” from a traditional UK butcher as we understand it in the UK.

These entrepreneurial purveyors of pork products identified the need for cheap, ready-made, nourishing and tasty food among the British working classes and so a new style of food was born. In fact, some have claimed that these businesses were the forerunners for what we now call “fast food”.

Today we are all familiar with the concept of convenience food, mobile munching and grazing on our feet as we wander round food markets. But in a time when three square meals a day in the family home was the norm, pork butchers were offering a service that was refreshingly different.


Pork butchers in the North East

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, many Germans migrated to northern England to set up shop amidst the boom of Britain’s Industrial Revolution. Among these German migrants was Georg Friedrich Kuch who migrated with his daughter Helena. Georg’s story is a complex one which encompassed the Great War, deportation and years spent separated from family and friends.

But it is with his daughter Helena Kuch that the Dicksons story truly begins. It was in 1953 that she and her husband Michael Dickson founded the very first Dicksons pork butcher shop in South Shields.

Now, more than 60 years later, Dicksons butchers owns 23 shops around the region with a factory based in South Shields able to supply food across the length and breadth of the UK.

edinburgh rd counter

While many things have changed over the last 60 years, some things still remain. Many of the flavours, techniques and commitment to excellence have stood the test of time. And in doing so, Dicksons continues to stand for all that is good – and delicious – about a pork butchers.

And if you don’t believe us, why not head down for a pork pie, a saveloy dip and a friendly chat with the staff in your nearest Dicksons today?