Butcher brothers Bryan and Malcolm Thomason have some 80 years of butchery skills and knowledge between them and have always worked together – but it has been that and their sense of humour which has got the cheerful duo and their hardworking team through the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Fifty-seven-year-old Bryan – known by all as Bomber – and Malcolm, who is 13 months younger, opened Thomasons butchers and delicatessen in Keswick’s Station Street 16 years ago but have worked together for 40 years in total in the town.
Originally from Great Broughton, near Cockermouth, the West Cumbria siblings now live on the same housing estate in Dearham.
Malcolm began working as a Saturday boy in a butchers shop near his home when he was 14, but straight from school the two began working for Keswick businessman Keith Graham at the Caterite food and drink supplies company when it was based at Southey Hill Industrial Estate.
They moved with the company when the Lakes Foodstore was built in Keswick’s Tithebarn Street, which was taken over by North West supermarket chain EH Booth & Son in 2002.
Bomber and Malcolm are popular for their good sense of humour and their shop is known as a bit of a hot bed for local gossip.
“We have a lot of really nice people who are regulars and keep us up to date with snippets of news – which we sometimes pass on! It’s all about the banter between us and our hardworking team and our customers,” said Bomber.
Almost all Thomasons’ meat products are sourced from the local area and its sausages are made in-house.
The lamb and pork are produced in Cumbria, although the beef comes from Stirlingshire in Scotland.
The deli side of the business concentrates on homemade products including 15 varieties of pies, along with quiches and pasties all made on the premises.
The team also roast their own hams, make a range of pates and produce prepared meals including lasagnes and the very popular traditional Cumbrian tattie pots.
The second month-long lockdown is proving difficult for Thomasons, and Bomber said: “We have loyal local customers, but also visitors who come back each year when they are on holiday.
“A regular, from down country, arrived before lockdown to stock up with meat and meals for the freezer. She spent over £200 in one visit.”
With the festive season getting underway a little earlier this year than usual, the Thomasons’ team have turned their thoughts to their tasty Christmas offerings.
“Most customers opt for turkey, but goose and Gressingham duck are also popular,” said Malcolm.
“We also take a few orders for our four-bird roast which is a turkey, with a duck then chicken and finally a pheasant inside,” he added.
Bomber and Malcolm also create their own specialist festive food including Christmas Cumberland sausage – made from sausage meat, fresh onions, cranberry and sweet chestnut puree – while their Christmas roast hams are also extremely popular.
During their younger days the brothers were decent rugby league players, with Malcolm playing semi-professionally including a spell with Carlisle Border Raiders, but a serious injury to his leg finished his rugby career.