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160 Bath Road (was 2 Clare Terrace)
Part of this property was leased to a butcher William Jenkins. He was here for quite a short time as on 3rd November 1905 another butcher, Mr Leigh James, moved to this much larger property from just a few doors away. Born in Cheltenham in about 1874 he did his apprenticeship with a High Street butcher when he was just a lad. He married Louisa Day in 1897 when he was already the proprietor of the shop at 170 Bath Road, having previously been the manager there. The couple made their home above the shop and was very much a family concern with some of their eleven children helping out.
As with many businesses at the time the shop stayed open late into the evening and especially on a Saturday when a bargain Sunday roast could be had as the shop keepers sold off any left over food.
A well-built man with a shock of white hair and a bushy moustache Leigh James was a much liked member of the community. He became president of many sporting clubs in Leckhampton, where he lived with his family at Bartlow on Leckhampton Hill. In 1922 he became a town councillor, and then an alderman, and served with distinction on the Maternity and Child Welfare committee. He was also a governor of Cheltenham Grammar School and a director of various companies associated with the meat trade. He retired from the council in 1949 due to poor health and died, aged 75, on December 27th that year at home. In paying tribute to Leigh James the Mayor of Cheltenham said that the town had "lost a devoted son".
The business continued under the name of Leigh James until it was sold to another butcher, Fred Stephens, for his Bath Road branch. He had three other shops in Cheltenham and at one of them he had a pie making business. In the 1930s he also had the shop on the corner of Exmouth Street. After Mr Stephens death his widow Ethel kept the shop with her daughter and son-in-law, until it was sold to Mr R Pitt in 1977.
Mr Reg Pitt came from Gloucester and had been a butcher since 1956. He too had several shops in Cheltenham. In 1991 he took the panels off the front of the shop, which the previous owner had covered, revealing the name of Leigh James. He then had the tiles renovated putting on his own name. For this restoration work he was awarded a Cheltenham Civic Award from the Borough Council in association with the Cheltenham Civic Society. He was in Bath Road for 16 years and supplied many of his customers with the odd recipe or two. He retired in 1993 and in May of that year Robin Jenkins took over.
Researcher: Marilyn West
Updated: Stuart Manton (November 2014)
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