Craven’s longest serving independent family butcher, Drake & Macefield reflects on this year’s significant milestone - 125th years in business spanning three centuries, operating three branches and delivering direct to customers.
Gaining numerous local and national awards along the way, including a 2023 Great Taste Award, the family butchers has grown considerably since it was established on Otley Street in Skipton in 1898 by Robert Drake who was soon joined by his young nephew Jack Macefield, initially after school and on Saturdays before finishing his education.
Jack’ son, Ian Macefield, recalls his father telling how he was often late for school as he considered their customers to be his number one priority. He explained how his Uncle Bob taught him how to judge the best quality cattle and sheep so that young Jack soon utilised those skills at the local farms and auctions. Jack maintained the provision of best quality and customer service throughout his working life and Ian believes he would be justly proud that Drake & Macefield continue this philosophy today.
Jack died in in the early 80s, and nearly a century after the butchers shop was founded, 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. In turn, they are joined by brothers Steven and Adam Proctor who manage the Skipton and Settle shops respectively.
Drake & Macefield has weathered many challenges over the years including two world wars, post war rationing. ‘foot and mouth’ which affected supply, along with recessions and vigorous competition from supermarkets which forced many butchers out of business. Far from closing, the firm has grown from strength to strength and now boasts branches in Settle, opened in 2000, and in Crosshills in 2018, along with a processing unit and a bakery producing their award-winning pies.
Drake & Macefield now employs 28 staff and as well as serving domestic customers, commercial contracts mean its pies are favoured by Leeds Utd supporters and many local hotels, pubs, restaurants and village stores.
COVID lockdown brought about a seismic shift in the way Drake & Macefield serves its customer base. Responding quickly to demand from its loyal customers, the team had to find a way to fulfil 250 deliveries a day. The firm soon had a fleet of five vans dashing round the dales and Aire Valley, ensuring their quality meat products kept people fed during those worrying times. An online shop had to be hastily constructed on the website to ease the administration of the new click-and-collect and home delivery service.
Although COVID restrictions are largely forgotten, the legacy of the online delivery service is still thriving. Director Steven Teal explains “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!”