Serving the communities of Bures St Mary and Bures Hamlet

Drake Butchers in Bures


Drake Butchers started in 1909 with a shop along Cuckoo Hill, owned by Gordon Drake Snr.
Today, no evidence is to be seen of this shop, long since demolished.
It would have stood where the garden is today at the side of White Horse House formerly the White Horse Public House.

The earliest recorded date of a slaughterhouse in Cuckoo Hill was in 1503:-
"John Hunte"was ordered not to pour animal blood into the common ditch at his slaughterhouse on Cuckoo Hill (then called Slaughters Hill)
This practice carried on into the 1950`s.

In 1869 it was registered to William Scowen as the White Horse Public House.
1874 to William Death publican
1884 Golding Hume publican
1892 Golding Hume publican
1899 Golding Hume publican, who then moved to farm at Bures Hall
1900 listed as a butchers shop owned by George Hume and finally in 1909 by Gordon Drake.

A public enquiry held on the 3rd May 1950 into the feasibility of providing
a mains sewage system to the village reported:-


The railway layout at the station in 1900 shows goods sidings with cattle pens. Reference can also be found that for over 600 years. In the 1920`s, local surviving residents can still remember cattle being driven through the village from the railway station up High Street to the abattoir.

Gordon also rented out land at Bures Hall Farm and also in St Edmunds Lane to graze his beef herd. Gordon also supplied milk to the local Dairy

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White Horse Public House closed down & now operated by Drake Butchers, shop to the left.
White Horse PH, displaying pub sign.
Before 1900.

An abattoir was built by Gordon Drake behind the shop during 1920, to slaughter animals to supply the outlet.

abbattoir pens
Slaughter House
Holding Pens

To the rear of Cuckoo Barn (where it stands today)was the original "Barn" in the adjacent field(now Friends Field).

Cattle was pastured in these fields until they were herded over the road to the abattoir.


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Cuckoo Barn refurbished for residential use - photo 2003

During the second world war a rogue antiaircraft shell fired from Colchester landed on the abattoir injuring several workmen and killing a slaughterman.

Records indicate Walter Smith was the Slaughterman in charge assisted by Pat Baker.

After the shop in Cuckoo Hill closed down, new premises were found in the High St which served as their retail outlet, eventually closing down in 1984.

John Drake Snr and Gordon Drake circa 1930`s

Circa 1930.
Left:- George Eaves, Arthur Moore, Frank Pilgrim, Ernie Spurgeon, Dick Crosley, Mr and Mrs Drake

<<<The High St shop now converted to private residence

Between 1986 and 1988 the redundant High St shop was purchased by Greg Moore, an Australian entrepreneur, who founded Bridge International (later renamed Pont Data Company)
"Bridge International" was an IT firm specialising in supplying online information to the finance industry.
Due to its rapid growth it soon outgrew these premises and moved down to Smallbridge Hall. Sometime after 1988, the shop was purchased as residential property by Mr and Mrs Furnisss.

Unfortunately slaughtering soon came to an end with the introduction of more and more stringent EU regulations.
Gordon Drake sold the abattoir in Cuckoo Hill to a Mr Thompson in 1980.
During its latter years it was used as a meat processing plant distributing pre-packed meat joints to retail outlets. The entire site eventually closed in 1984, ownership transferring to a Mr Matthews, an Insurance Broker from Chelmsford.
He subsequently rented out the property to Babergh on a 20 year lease. (Due to end 2004/5)

Babergh District Council reopened the complex, as small units for those starting up new businesses. This has led to a diverse range of activities over the years ranging from:-
Concrete garden ornament manufacturer, clothing distributor, marquee/tent manufacturer, printing works, glass blowing, confectionery distributor, water softener distributor, small scale chemical (horticulture) works etc.
During 2002 its popularity appears to have dwindled as more units appear to become vacant.

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White Horse House as seen today.
The thatched butchers shop would have been to the left, now a garden

The driveway to the right of the house, was the original entrance to the abattoir

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Circa 1900, Cuckoo Hill showing White Horse Public House
Cuckoo Hill in 2002. The white extension now demolished to serve as a garden

The animal holding pens can be seen in the background (now re-furbished with doors) and the building on the right, part of the main freezer.
The abattoir behind the original butchers shop was closed in 1980, replaced by council owned, light industrial starter units.
By 2002 the use of these units had declined with only two left in service by 2004.

April 2009:- Site For Sale

Jan 2016 :- Site still for sale

UPDATE 2013: Planning application rejected for residential development.
Update July 2014 - site now being cleared of all buildings
Update 2015 - Site now for sale with Planning Consent for 5 residential properties

Information supplied by:_
Gordon Pilgrim and John Drake.
Photographs of the shop Evon/Nigel drake

View extract from "Town and Country" magazine 1933.
Updated Jan 2016