Meeting our makers: John Murray Butchers
It’s fair to say that you can’t make the best English breakfast – or even a great sausage butty – unless you have the best ingredients. That’s why we seek out fantastic food from local suppliers, like our butcher John Murray. Our famous sausages and other meat come from John, who this year will be celebrating 30 years since he opened his shop just up the road from us in Loxwood, West Sussex.
Johnny, as he’s known to his friends, tells us he started up on his own after managing other people’s businesses in the meat trade, starting as an apprentice and working through various jobs. It was after his sister opened a hairdressing salon in a new development at Loxwood that Johnny first came to the village. He’s happy to still be there now and his popularity is such that in 2013 he was named Sussex Butcher of the Year.
Billy first met Johnny about six years ago when she was buying meat for her catering business, so when she opened Billy’s on the Road she already knew where she’d find the best sausages. Johnny sources as much of his meat as possible from farms within the local area, and anything that can’t be sourced locally comes from a handful of trusted suppliers at London’s Smithfield Market.
All of Johnny’s sausages are handmade in the shop (John Murray Butchers) by Johnny and his team. If you take a trip out to visit the shop, you’ll find a whole host of different flavours, including favourites like pork and leek, a gluten-free Italian sausage and even a North African merguez style made with lamb. But Johnny says it’s the classic pork Cumberland sausage that we serve at Billy’s that’s his best seller, which of course is no surprise to us. In fact, we go through some 800 sausages every week, so our customers obviously love them!
You’ll also find plenty of tasty morsels on Johnny’s deli counter, including pies and pasties handmade locally, and traditionally-made butter and Sussex Charmer cheese from Bookham Harrison Farms near Rudgwick. There are also lots of cooked meats, salamis, olives and around 30 to 40 other cheeses, half of which are English, so you’re really spoiled for choice.
So what is it that Johnny loves most about his line of work? Meeting people, he tells us: whether it’s the chefs he delivers to, or the customers in the shop, he says it’s all down to supplying a good product, doing a professional job and taking pride in what he does. When he’s not behind the counter or out delivering to restaurants, you’re most likely to find him in the back garden with his family and lots of dogs. But when he gets out and about in Sussex, he goes shooting, or sometimes sailing around the Solent and Chichester Harbour.
The important question, of course, is what he likes to eat. If he had to choose a death row meal, Johnny says it would probably be an oxtail stew, or osso bucco, or maybe bangers and mash.
And if he could invite anyone to his ultimate breakfast? Well, there are a lot of people he’d like meet – some of them who aren’t alive any more, he laughs – but in the end, it would be his family. And naturally, it’d have to be a full English with extra sausages – at Billy’s on the Road!