Nicholson’s Butchers: A family history

Nicholson’s Butchers: A family history

As one of Whitley Bay’s oldest and most recognisable businesses, we’re so proud of our family history – so we thought we’d write a blog about it to explain who we are, where we came from and why we love our community!

Established on Park view in 1914

Yes, that’s over 100 years of butchery goodness on our very own (award-winning) high street and we mean to be here for many more years too!

But let’s get back to the history.

Charles Nicholson, great grandfather of the current business owner, opened the shop on Park View after returning from building railroads in America. He came home in May 1914 and wasted no time opening up the shop and establishing the business as the top quality butcher shop it still is today.

The next generations

Charles’ son – also named Charles – took over the business at 26 years of age, a few years after World War II ended in around 1951.

Charles, known to most of our customers and friends as Charlie, worked in his father’s business as a young boy but left home to join the Navy. He trained as an Environmental Health Officer before returning to his home town to run the shop and become a Master Butcher.

Charlie lived above the shop and is still fondly remembered by his family and customers alike. He loved golf and his garden and had an incredible talent for growing tomatoes! He was such a funny man, very charming with the ladies and he was – although we’re biased – the most amazing man ever. His was the face that so many of our regular customers knew and loved. He was still active in, and passionate about, the business right up until he passed away in 2016 at the age of 91.

Charlie’s son Doug took over the business when he returned from several years as a deep-sea engineer in the Merchant Navy. Doug extended the shop and opened our in-house bakery above the shop to produce some of the delicious baked goods we still sell today.

Doug is still involved in the business, buying produce, hand selecting beef and lamb for us – one of his many talents. In more recent years Doug has become heavily involved with Tynemouth lifeboat, loves his holidays and spends as much time with his friends as he can.

The current generation

Nicholson’s is currently run by Kathryn, Charlie’s granddaughter and Doug’s daughter.

Kathryn came back to the family business in 2014 after gaining a degree in food science and finding her feet in the world of food retailing with Morrison’s in a food product development role.

When she returned to Whitley Bay in 2014 she worked alongside her father, Doug, to learn the ropes of running such a treasured business before taking sole control of the reins in 2022.

Kathryn says: “I’ve always loved our family business. I worked in the shop as a young girl, helping my dad and grandad on the weekends. The whole family would be involved back then. I would help on a Saturday making kebabs and pies.

“I was back and forth in the business – I went out into the world and learned new things before re-joining the family business in 2014. My dad semi-retired in 2022 and I’ve taken over the reins.”

Just this year, Kathryn became the first female chair of the Q Guild, a body representing over 120 of Britain’s butchers from all over the UK, cementing her commitment to the industry and creating a bright, skilled and top quality future for the profession.

When she’s not working, Kathryn loves being at home with her twin girls and her husband, planning holidays and spending time on the beach with her dogs.

Then there’s Mark – Kathryn’s cousin and grandson of Charlie.

Mark joined the family business in 1992 as a young lad and has worked his way up through the ranks ever since. He’s now head of production at the shop and is a huge asset to the business – ensuring all of Nicholson’s amazing produce reaches the quality standards our customers have come to expect.

Aside from being chief sausage maker – and what amazing sausages!? – Mark is the man who also ensures all our customer orders leave the shop in tip-top condition and on time.

When Mark isn’t at work he loves spending time with his grandchildren and catching up on the football scores!

What’s next for Nicholson’s?

The talented and dedicated team at Nicholson’s will continue to grow under the guiding eye of Kathryn. We hope to grow the team further and develop products and recipes that our customers will love.

Our team is our strength and we know we need the best team around us to continue the success of our family business. We’re determined to continue the development and training of our people to deliver the best produce, advice and passion for meat and bakery goods for the people of Whitley Bay and beyond!

Find out more about our exceptional produce and services!