Dorset butcher’s is Britain’s oldest family business

A recent study has revealed that a butcher’s shop in Bridport, Dorset is the oldest continuously trading family business in the whole of the UK. 

A study by the Institute for Family Business (IFB) has confirmed RJ Balson and Sons, which was recognised as the oldest butcher’s shop in England by MTJ more than 30 years ago, has beaten its nearest contenders by nearly 60 years.

The butcher’s can trace its roots through 25 reigns back to John Balson, who had a stall in the market shambles on South Street, Bridport in 1535. Since then, countless members of the family have worked as butchers in the Dorset market town, passing their skills down the generations. Now, 476 years later, the shop is still going strong, although it moved to its present location as recently as 1880.

Owner Donald Balson, said: “The love of the job, which has been passed down from generation to generation, is one of the main reasons we have been successful.”

His son Richard Balson said: “It’s not always gone directly from father to son – sometimes it’s gone to a brother and sons, but it has been in the family all the time and, in January, my son will come into the business to run the online side. He’s got a son too, so hopefully it’ll keep on going.”

“We started up just before the Mary Rose sank just short of Portsmouth harbour.”

In 1535, Henry VIII was still married to Anne Boleyn, the first complete English language translation of the Bible was printed in Antwerp by William Tynedale and Miles Coverdale, and Peru, the Galapagos Islands and Quebec were discovered.