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End of an era for Hillman Butcher in Kilburn as fifth family generation business comes to a close

PUBLISHED: 09:40 05 October 2020 | UPDATED: 15:40 06 October 2020

John Hillman, of Hillman Butchers, with a customer. Picture: John Hillman

John Hillman, of Hillman Butchers, with a customer. Picture: John Hillman

Archant

It’s the end of an era for the Hillman family butchers who have served clients in Kilburn for five generations.

John Hillman, owner of Hillman Butcher on Kilburn High Road with three of his four children. Picture: John HillmanJohn Hillman, owner of Hillman Butcher on Kilburn High Road with three of his four children. Picture: John Hillman

John Hillman has retired from Hillman Butchers in Kilburn High Road but has made sure that customers can still access a traditional outlet.

The 58-year-old dad-of-four has sold the lease for an undisclosed sum to Alan Harte, who will bring his Irish meat market into the vacated space.

Hillman Butchers was founded by John’s great great great grandfather in 1848.

“I’m the fifth generation and the last, unfortunately,” said John. “I’ve got three sons, one at uni and two who are working, who don’t want to take on the business.

The Hillman Butcher on Kilburn High Road. Picture: John HillmanThe Hillman Butcher on Kilburn High Road. Picture: John Hillman

“I came straight from school when I was 16; I’ve been doing it a long time. If you’re going to have a family butchers you’ve got to have your own blood, that’s how I feel, but I’m fortunate I own the property and have been able to lease it.”

In 1908, John’s grandfather was living in Chatsworth Road in Willesden and by the end of World War Two the family had 36 shops.

“I’ve been trying to sell the shop for a couple of years,” said John.

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“I wanted to keep it as a traditional butcher, as there are not many traditional butchers in the Kilburn High Road. Alan Harte came along and we agreed a deal.

“He’s totally renovating the shop and will stock a lot of Irish goods. I think he’ll do well.”

The only son to Michael Hillman, John has a sister who helped out at the shop every Tuesday.

His three sons and daughter have all worked in the shop over the years and have done the books for the Hillmans’ “big portfolio of clients”.

“It’s a brutal game, often starting at 3am, when you go to markets, and finishing at 6pm. When do you say enough is enough? I know it’s the right thing to do.”

He hopes to have the 70-year-old sign preserved using a traditional woodcraft technique called bodging.

John continues to work three days a week serving wholesale customers but will now also focus on other interests and spend more time with his wife.

“I didn’t have much time to say goodbye to my customers.

“I whole-heartedly thank my customers for their loyalty over the years,” he added.


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