South Shields Local History Group

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German Pork Butchers

The earliest German migrants had been mariners but from 1859 John Schroth and John George Frederick are mentioned as pork butchers.  John Schroth came from the South West of modern Germany the old Duchy of Württemberg which is centred around modern day Stuttgart.  Many later pork butchers came from the Hohenlohe region in towns such as Künzelsau, Schwäbisch Hall, Mosbach and Chrispenhofen.

The push factors for these migrants included economic depression and primogeniture, where only the eldest male child inherits the family farm.  Many of the skills needed for pork butchers would have been learned from their mothers on the family farm.

Once established in South Shields further family members would be recruited as apprentices, domestic servants and shop assistants mainly from the same Württemberg area.

The pull factors included: employment, a guaranteed place to live, and because of familial connections the chance of owning your own business.  Several German pork butchers became very prosperous owning property and leaving substantial legacies when they died.

Many anglicised their names eg Kuch/Cook, Fischer/Fisher and became naturalised British citizens.

Nationally with the outbreak of World War I in 1914 led to a swift decline in their numbers.  When the Lusitania was sunk in 1915 violent attacks took place nationwide against German owned pork butcher shops and others with foreign sounding names.  Those who weren’t naturalised British subjects were interned, usually on the Isle of Man, or deported back to Germany.

In South Shields most became naturalised British subjects, Fred Seitz seems to be the exception.  During World War I the trade directories show a significant decline in numbers whether this was because they ceased trading or were not recorded is not clear.  After 1920 the numbers start to increase, then decline after this, most of these will be the children of the original German migrants.  After World War II a few German pork butcher names did survive, Scott and Sieber and Cook in Ocean Road and now the only surviving connection is Dickson’s.

Read an account of “One German Pork Shop Through Time”.  Which follows German born Johan Kuch/Cook through his son John Robert Cook to their shop in Ocean Road which later became M.I. Dickson’s pork shop. Written by Dorothy Ramser the daughter of M. I. Dickson.

British Newspaper Archives
Census data
Dorothy Ramser
Terry Ford
Trade Directories

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