SKIPTON'S Drake & Macefield, Craven's oldest independent family butcher, is celebrating 125 years in business.

Set up by Robert Drake in Otley Street, Skipton in 1898, the business, the winner  of many local and national awards,  has survived two world wars, recessions, and foot and mouth disease. In 2000 it opened its second shop in Settle, followed in 2018  by a third in Cross Hills;  it also has its own processing unit and bakery, making its much loved, award winning pies.

Its founder Robert Drake was originally joined at the shop in Skipton by his young nephew Jack Macefield, who worked at the business after school and on Saturdays until he finished his education.

Jack's son, Ian Macefield, remembers how his father would describe being late for school, as he considered his customers his 'number one priority'. His Uncle Bob taught him how to judge the best quality cattle and sheep, so he knew what to pick at farms and auctions.

Jack died in in the early 1980s, and in 1985 Ian Thompson, who had been trained by Jack, took over the business, and was joined by partner, Richard Teal in 1997. Following Ian’s retirement in 2016, Richard Teal’s sons Andrew and Steven joined the business restoring the original ‘family business’ ethos. Meanwhile, brothers Steven and Adam Proctor manage the Skipton and Settle shops.

Drake & Macefield has weathered many challenges, including two world wars, post war rationing and foot and mouth disease, which affected its supply; the business has also survived recessions and vigorous competition from supermarkets which forced many butchers out of business.

Today, the business employs 28 people. Its pies are stocked at many hotels, pubs, restaurants and shops across Craven, and are a favourite with Leeds United supporters.

During the Covid-19 lock downs of 2020 and 2021, the business had a fleet of five vans making 250 deliveries a day to the Dales and Aire Valley. It also introduced an online shop on its website to ease the administration of the new click-and-collect and home delivery service.

Two years later, the online delivery service is still thriving.

Director Steven Teal said: “Customer demand is paramount alongside the quality of produce we offer, so if the customer enjoys the convenience of farm fresh meat delivered to their own doorstep, then that’s what we’ll continue to provide.

"Offering our own pies, sausages, cured and smoked meats, alongside delicious ready-to-cook meals, we are much more than a traditional small town butchers."