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Bygone Stanley - Killing a pig in 1925


Killing a pig was not uncommon in my youth and on occasions I helped my father in the preparation and cleaning-up operation after the slaughter. I should be ten years of age when I witnessed for the first time the killing of a pig in our own backyard. Those days the first job was to have plenty of boiling water ready. The water was boiled in a large steel container which was in a brick-built surround with a fire grate underneath. The pig food was boiled in this container every day - potato peelings, turnips and cabbage leaves etc. The next job was to prepare the site for killing. A stout wood stretcher with handles on both sides and on 4ins wood legs about 1ft long was placed just outside the pig sty. It would be approximately 6ft in length. The pig was then led out of the sty with a short length of rope tied around its snout. The pig struggled and squirmed as it had sense to know it was going to be killed. Wben the pig had been half pulled, half led to the side of the stretcher, two of the men would roil it over to the stretcher and tie one of its front legs to it. The rope was still held tight on its snout and the pig was now captive, laid on its side. The butcher would then pull out a large sharp knife and cut its throat. The pig would give one loud scream and it was dead. A clean, empty bucket was then placed under its throat to catch the blood which was used to make black pudding. The boiling water was then carried in buckets and thrown over the pig, and then the pig's skin was scraped dean with special sharp scrapers - like a large razor blade.

Within a few minutes the pig had been scraped and was clean; no hairy skin remained. The pig was then carried on its stretcher to the entrance of a large shed doorway which would be 7ft in height. Jt was then hung up by its hind legs on some special hanging books and the butcher would then cut open the belly of the pig and remove all the intestines - there was nothing wasted. The intestines were cleaned and made into chicklins and tripe. The pig's bladder was blown up by a bicycle pump and used as a football; it was tough and could be kicked about for many days before it burst. It was an experience I shall never forget. A very, very cruel way of killing but it was the method used at that time. In its defence, if this method could be defended, the operation of actual killing was more in seconds than in minutes. It was very quick. The butcher, Ralph Limer, charged 10/- for killing and jointing.

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