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End of an era as Suffolk butchers shuts after 160 years

PUBLISHED: 17:43 10 January 2020 | UPDATED: 17:43 10 January 2020

A picture from 1923 with Henry Ruse(left) and member of staff Ambrose Jones.

A picture from 1923 with Henry Ruse(left) and member of staff Ambrose Jones.

A traditional business that has been part of the fabric of a Suffolk community for 160 years has closed.

A banner from when the business celebrated its 150th anniversary.A banner from when the business celebrated its 150th anniversary.

Staff at Ruse & Son in Long Melford said goodbye to their last customers on Friday, January 10, after supplying generations with quality meats.

Founded by Teverson Ruse, the firm has traded across three centuries from the Hall Street premises.

Fifth generation family member Lizzie Cross said having a really good quality product and a personal service had ensured the success of the business.

She said Ruse & Son had "definitely" been a huge part of the community, adding the family was "hugely grateful" to everybody for their touching comments.

Oliver Ruse (2nd left) pictured with staff Dan Holt, Steve New and Seb Gordon-Cheyne in 2010 Picture: TUDOR MORGAN-OWENOliver Ruse (2nd left) pictured with staff Dan Holt, Steve New and Seb Gordon-Cheyne in 2010 Picture: TUDOR MORGAN-OWEN

She said a stone left anonymously that was painted with an image of the shop on one side and the words 'from everybody in Long Melford' on the other had been particularly moving.

"The people of Long Melford have been so supportive and have shown us so much kindness over our time here.

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"We are so incredibly grateful to them for that. They really have been amazing.

"We have had some fantastic suppliers who are local farmers and small holders who have provided us with exquisite meat. That's the thing - everything we have sold has been locally sourced and that's a huge thing for us."

The business has certainly seen change - back in time cattle used to be grazed on Melford green and were brought down the high street to be slaughtered on site and deliveries were made using a horse and trap.

But Mrs Cross said staying the same in many ways helped ensure their longevity.

Mrs Cross, whose father Henry, 77, retired due to ill health, said: "The introduction of the deli and cheese counter was quite radical back then in the 1980s. I think we have adapted, but I think what has been our strength is we have stayed the same in a lot of things - that high-quality product.

"People need to know where their food comes from - that's really important for people - and they need to trust the people supplying it."

Henry ran the business with Mrs Cross' brother Oliver up until 2013.

She said: "It's a family business. At the end of the day, I'm not a butcher. A couple of the staff are looking for jobs."

She said the two highly-skilled staff would be in demand.

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