The story of Stanley Mee’s Springfield Black Pudding during the war times…in the words of Rodney Mee
During World War II, in about 1944, Dad was in a reserved occupation (in an occupation where he could not be taken for military service) as he was a butcher. Reserved occupations meant certain key skilled workers were exempt from conscription, ranging from butchers to teachers. The government put this in place to stop shortages of workforce being repeated, like in World War I. This meant that the only men left in the country were old men & young boys.
Whilst managing his own shop, dad was left in charge of 4 fire stations across Lancashire and 6 other butcher shops up north. These were in Bury, Bolton, Ashton, Rochdale, Middleton and Heywood. With this extra responsibility dad employed his younger sisters, Marjorie and Kathleen and old age pensioners to manage his shops.
During the war, as you might already know red meat was rationed. Which made it very difficult for people to make their ration stretch to feed their family. A solution for this shortage was soon found late afternoon in one of Dads shops. As his shop manager came and said “I’ve got a bucket of blood, shall I make some black pudding?”. To which dad replied, “well you might as well” and that was the start of that.
“I’ve got a bucket of blood, shall I make some black pudding?”
Dad put them in the shop window and in no time they were sold. The following day he did the same and they sold out like hot cakes. The next day Dad stopped the production of black pudding and said to his shop manager “don’t make any more black pudding until I tell you to do so”. Dad had a plan up his sleeve. He went round all the slaughter houses locally in Lancashire, then to Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Cheshire. He put all the slaughter houses on contract for their blood, which they were mainly putting down the drains anyway.
By doing this, dad got all the blood on an exclusive contract, so no other butchers could have the blood. By doing this he was the only person making black pudding in this region and started to make thousands of pounds of black pudding everyday.
“Dad sold about 4 tonnes of black pudding per day for almost 3 years”
The boilers for making the puddings never went out for almost 3 years, until the meat rationing came off in 1947. The Springfield Food Company factory was located at an old table block, opposite Rochdale infirmary. During production the smell of the black pudding used to waft down the road and could be smelled in the hospital.
Dad sold about 4 tonnes of black puddings per day for almost 3 years. The demand grew to a point where Stanley Mee ended up sending lorry loads down to London 3 days a week. In the capital the black pudding was sold to Sainsburys of London and several other big stores. Dad said if he had his own gold mine he couldn’t have dug it out as quick.