Cranstons Centenary Celebrations kicked off this week. Managing director Philip Cranston and Operations Director Roger Cranston, the 3rd generation to manage the family butchery business, marked the start of the company’s year-long 100th anniversary celebrations alongside staff from Cranstons traditional shop in Penrith with a glass of fizz.
Managing Director Philip Cranston said, ‘We are thrilled to be celebrating 100 years in business this May. Things have changed a little since my Great Uncle Stanley started selling meat in the Eden Valley from his horse and cart but Cranstons values remain unchanged. Our butchers still strive to serve great quality products, working closely with local farmers and producers to showcase the best of Cumbrian produce.'
Cranstons was established in the Eden Valley village of Kirkoswald. Stanley Cranston, a former saddler, turned his hand to butchery and began selling meat from a horse and cart. The business soon gained a reputation for quality and Stanley took on his nephew James Cranston (the current Directors' father) as an apprentice. James Cranston took the helm in the 1950s, by which time the company was running two delivery vans serving communities throughout the Eden Valley. James and his wife Bunty opened the first shop in Kirkoswald in 1977.
Philip Cranston said, 'We don’t have many anecdotes from Stanley’s era, but from the 40’s onwards the story is less patchy as I have the benefit of Mother and Father's recollections. I remember my father recalling some of the challenges he faced during rationing. On one occasion he set off delivering around Kirkoswald with a van full of meat only to realise he didn’t have enough so returned home to cut it into smaller pieces. He also complained that he was regularly left with only an Ox Cheek for Sunday dinner.'
Philip and Roger joined the business in the 80s. A period of expansion followed with the opening of the shop in King Street Penrith in 1983 and further shop openings in Carlisle, Brampton and Hexham. Cranstons flagship Cumbrian Food Hall on Ullswater Road, Penrith, opened in 2003 and was subsequently expanded in 2009. Last December a second Food Hall opened at Orton Grange. Cranstons currently operate 4 traditional shops, 2 food halls, an on-line shop and a catering and wholesale service from their head office and production facility at Ullswater Road, employing over 180 people.
Operations Director Roger Cranston reflects on how the business has changed: ‘We still have the same close relationship with local farmers, and our butchers still use old-fashioned knife skills and craftsmanship. Shopping habits have changed beyond recognition though, even from when Philip and I helped on the vans as boys. At that time no one had heard of supermarkets or internet shopping!
'Mother would send us ahead of the van to knock on doors and drum up a queue on the roadside where people bought fresh meat from the van. Everyone cooked from scratch – no ready meals! The biggest difference now compared to then is the amazing choice modern day customers have. When I was a boy the product range was very limited. I remember we only had one variety of sausage, Thick Cumberland. Including our speciality varieties we now sell over 20 different sausages!’
Cranstons have lots planned throughout the year in celebration of their 100th year trading, including a big Centenary Celebration for customers throughout May with special offers on Cranstons ‘old favourite’ recipes and special tasting days, a birthday bash for staff in late May and a charity 100 mile bike ride on 2nd August around the 6 shops, raising money for hospice at home.