James, Bill (b.1928)

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Bill James was born in 1928 in Ebbw Vale. He and his wife Ethel have lived at the Kings Head in Raglan for 50 years. His family were once farmers at the Warrage. Bill's mother died when he was 8 years old and he went to live with his Aunt and Uncle at their farm in Llangwm. When he was 17 years old he worked for his Uncle at the Warrage Farm. Bill was one of four laborers on the farm including a pensioner who fed the chickens. Bill loved farming. He had a variety of jobs including milking cows, ploughing and hedging. He would take the milk churns to the Railway station for delivery. He also drove herds of cattle down Tregare Road and through Raglan Village to the Cattle Market that was held twice a year on the land where St Cadoc's Court and the Childrens' Playground are now located.

Bill would have loved to spend his life farming but it didn't work out. As a young man Bill became a milkman and while on his route found out that the Butcher's shop at Crown Corner was for sale. Its previous owner, Francis Spencer, had bought the Kings Head Inn in 1928 and changed it to a butcher's to serve the village. Hence, in 1959, Bill James became a self-taught butcher. He bought his beef, lamb and pork at local markets and butchered it on the premises. At the time he was one of two butchers in the Village: Bill James and Don Jones (Don's daughter Connie is now the butcher at DM Watkins store - and serves as the Church organist on Sundays)

In the early days, Bill had a van to deliver his meats around the Raglan area. He made deliveries to the farms and hamlets on most days of the week. In those days, he often find his money on the kitchen table and the owner out working the farm. He would leave the order and take his money. He would also do errands for the elderly that lived in the area and keep an eye on 'the old dears'. So Bill (and indeed the other shop owners in the village provided 'social services' as part of their job.

James the Butcher
Son, Neal continues the tradition of locally sourced meats. James Butchers continues to serve the Village today with customers coming from all over the UK to buy his local rare breed meats. Proof of their product can be seen in the many medals that decorate their walls.

(Interviewed by C. Morgan, 18, January 2010)

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