Owner of Richardson's Butchers Ray Richardson
A business more than 100 years old will soon close its door for the very last time.
Richardson and Sons Butchers has been a part of the Dartford town centre landscape since 1920.
But for the past 11 of those 104 years, owner Ray Richardson has suffered grief and uncertainty, as supermarket giant Tesco stopped and started over the planned development of Lowfield Street, which requires the land Mr Richardson’s shop stands on.
After years of wrangling, and a compulsory purchase order hanging over his head, Mr Richardson agreed to sell his business in 2011, when the third application from the supermarket was put it.
But that fell through when Tesco changed its mind over the plans and made a fourth application for the site.
That was approved and, with demolition work set to start in July, Mr Richardson has agreed to sell his property to Tesco.
The 57-year-old said: “It is with great regret that after 104 years of trading in Dartford, Richardson and Sons Butchers will cease to trade on Saturday, February 8.”
The married father-of-one is now looking forward to an early retirement.
He started working in his father and grandfather’s business at the age of 20.
Lowfield Street, Dartford
Mr Richardson added: “It is emotional but I’m reasonably happy with what Tesco has given me.
“This whole saga has consumed my life – you end up talking about nothing else but Tesco.
“My son is at university and didn’t want to carry on the business, so it would have ended with me anyway, and my wife is pleased that she will get to see a bit more of me too.”
The butcher, who has been working seven days a week for some years, continued: “There was a strange moment when I signed the deal – a load of tiles fell off the wall and smashed.
"I feel like it was the ghost of my grandfather, but who knows what it means.”
Mr Richardson thanked his customers, some of who have been with him for more than 70 years.
He said: “We are one of the few remaining butchers still sourcing local livestock and providing a personal service to customers, buying whole carcasses and preparing them in a traditional way.
“This closure has been necessary for the regeneration of Dartford, but I would like to thank the kind and generous support of our loyal customers, some who have been coming to us for over 70 years.
“It’s thanks to your continued backing that we have managed to be so successful for such a long period of time.”