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  • Writer's pictureCarol Harris

Cats Meat of Merritt

Working from home is nothing new in Crofton Park. The Standen family and, next door to them, Freeman Brothers were doing just that over a hundred years ago in Merritt Road.

Standen’s, local suppliers of cat’s meat, were a well-known family in Crofton Park in around the beginning of the twentieth century.

Back then, when horse-drawn vehicles were the usual means of transport, there were many working horses in the country. Most of these, when their working lives were over, would be slaughtered and their carcases sold to suppliers of food for pets (and, sometimes, food for humans).

Our first record of the trade locally is of William Standen. who, in the 1884 street directory is described as a ‘horse flesh dealer’, of 52 Wastdale road. Seven years later the census shows him living at 40 Wastdale Road with his wife Louisa, their four children and father-in-law Edward Bartlett, a ‘purveyor of horseflesh’.

Ten years later the street directory lists William, now at 68, Dalmain road, as a ‘cat’s meat dealer’, although in the census he is listed as a butcher. William and family continued to live at 68 Dalmain road, trading in horse meat.

By the thirties William had died, but his trade had been taken over by his wife, Louisa and son Albert from 68 Dalmain Road, and another son, Joseph and grandson Leonard, trading from No 117. There was also Harold Standen, operating from 4 Ewart Road, and Robert and Florence Standen, who were ‘purveyors of horse flesh’ at 1a Merritt Rd from 1911 to 1939.

George Russell, born in 1914, lived Merritt Road, and in the 1970s remendered; ‘In the first house … in Merritt Road were the Standons, who were known for their cat's meat. I often remember going into Standons for a penn'orth of cat's meat even a ha'porth of cat's meat, which you used to get on a stick.’

After the war, tinned pet food became popular, and local horse-meat suppliers, such as the Standens faded out.

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