Obituary: David Lidgate

Obituary: David Lidgate

Meat Management is saddened to report the passing of David Lidgate, founding member of the Q Guild of Butchers and previous owner of the family-run C. Lidgate butcher shop in London.

David Lidgate, former owner of C. Lidgate butchers and founding member of the Q Guild of Butchers.

After taking over the family-run C. Lidgate shop in 1959 at the age of 19, David worked to ensure that every customer felt they were part of an extended family.

He was a founding member of the Q Guild of Butchers, making a significant impact on improving the whole industry, and although he stepped away from the business more than 10 years ago, he maintained a keen interest in butchery right through his recent illness.

As a youth he worked in the shop on Saturdays, but the business was struggling, and he was keen to do something other than join the family business. He wanted to play rugby, but when his own father died he gave himself 18 months to learn as much about the industry as he could. It was a total culture shock, he told his family, working from 4:30am in all weathers and hauling 170lb hind quarters.

He realised things had to change at the shop. As he told his family, he was on holiday with his rugby friends in Austria when he had a “eureka” moment.

David said: “One evening, after a rather bloody wrist-wrestling competition with some locals, I got talking to a young man who, like me, had just taken over the family business and he offered to introduce me to his cousin, who was a butcher. His shop turned out to be unlike anything I’d ever seen.

“Back in England, it was all crash-bash in those days, but this place was immaculate: small cuts of meat laid out on steel trays, salamis hanging around the walls, and in the back they must have had £10,000 worth of machinery. It was like a laboratory: they were manufacturing sausages and absolutely no meat was wasted. 

“A lot of people thought the industry would follow the American way of doing things – mass production and supermarkets – but I thought then, this is the future: it’ll be more continental and it won’t be enough to sell meat, we’ve got to start making things too.”

David would say “we are only as good as the meat we serve”, which his family said meant personally selecting from suppliers they trusted. His sons eventually took over the shop, with David saying: “They say the meat trade is in the blood, and now that my sons are taking over from me I know it’s true.”

The Lidgate family said: “It is in spirit that we will remember him every day and serve his memory well in the dedication to the tradition he created and we strive to continue.”

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