Serving the communities of Bures St Mary and Bures Hamlet

The History of the Slaughterhouse Yard, incorporating 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.
Behind this property stood the slaughterhouse, where cattle were processed

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)

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.

Records indicate that slaughtering of livestock in Cuckoo Hill had been going on for some considerable time.
Effluent from the abattoir was discharged into a ditch which ran down the rear of the High Street directly into the river. This practice carried on into the 1950`s.

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

cuckoo hill
cuckoo hill@11k
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

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, this eventually closing down in 1984.

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. ( ended 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.

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

UPDATE 2013: Planning application rejected for residential development.

UPDATE July 2014 - site now being cleared of all buildings

Top and left

Photographs taken 20th July 2014

Top and left

Photographs taken 27th July 2014

Site cleared Aug 6th 2014 - 12 days work

Update:- Mid November 2016. Test soil drilling taking place on site
This will be 7 years, since the land was put up For Sale.