Foxearth & Liston History Society – History of the Ruse family.

About 30 members and guests of the Foxearth and District Society were present on 10th May to hear a familiar figure in the area give a full account of the history of his family and business. In the early 19th century the Ruse family were millers but one Teverson Ruse – the speaker’s great grand father – was afflicted by asthma which was exacerbated by flour and he became an apprentice butcher ultimately setting up his own business in Cavendish, then Limehouse and Duxford, eventually arriving in Long Melford in 1860.Teverson died aged 57 leaving a wife with 5 children to keep the enterprise running. A son, Henry, was trained for the drapery trade but was called into the family business. When Henry died at the relatively young age of 59 his wife- with 7 children – had to take over the reins. She was greatly helped by Henry’s right-hand man, Ambrose Jonas who was such a tower of strength that he was given a pension by a grateful family. The roles that these two women and Ambrose carried out in maintaining the business was emphasised as being crucial to its continuing success.

The third generation to be involved was Fred Ruse – our speaker’s father. He had to cope with the limitations imposed by World War 2; rationing and centralised slaughtering in particular. Local slaughtering was allowed again from 1954 and by this time domestic refrigeration was becoming more widespread and supermarkets were having an impact. Ultimately diversification was necessary. Upon the speaker’s retirement some three years ago son Oliver became the 5th generation to be involved – coinciding almost with the 150th anniversary of this well-known and popular local facility.

Dealing with the way the trade has changed, Henry described how cattle were once bought in Cambridge and brought by drovers to Long Melford. An incident of two bullocks causing havoc in a Sudbury shop was one of several amusing anecdotes Henry recounted. In the early days a marble tank of salt water was the only means of keeping meat fresh; then along came the box with a block of ice in it. Slaughtering techniques also changed quite radically as what was once a laborious process involving pulleys was replaced by electric hoists. At one time the slaughterhouse walls were white washed and transactions were pencilled on them; alas bureaucracy has taken over! This most interesting talk was illustrated by some old photographs and Henry’s collection of some past and present instruments used in the “despatching” process. He was warmly applauded as Chairman, Alan Fitch, moved the vote of thanks. A fascinating evening for the carnivores if not the faint-hearted!

The Chairman reminded members that anyone interested in the trip to Betchley Park should contact him if they have not already done so.

Next meeting: June 14th at 2pm – A walk around Gestingthorpe with and at the invitation of the President, Ashley Cooper.

Ken Nice

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