British Butcher Shop Celebrates 500 Years

Five centuries later, the shop is still serving customers

— -- In 1515 a British man by the name of Richard Balson started selling meat in the seaside village of Bridport, in Dorset, England.

Five hundred years later, Balson's butcher shop is still serving customers, making RJ Balson & Son the oldest family-run business in the United Kingdom.

"We started in the market shambles at the top of the town under the town hall," master butcher and current owner,Richard Balson, told ABC News, "farmers would bring the animals in the butchers and they’d be slaughtered and killed in the middle of the road and cut up and sold to the public. A bit of a gruesome story really but that’s what life was like in the days."

Over the last 26 generations, the business has overcome two world wars, fires, floods, the Black Death and more recently, competition from supermarket giants.

"People come in and we know them personally, we’ve served their mothers and fathers before them, their grandparents before them, so you’ve got that history there," Balson said.

The shop is famous for its handmade sausages, offering more than 20 varieties of bangers: “We use all-natural ingredients and even have exotic blends made out of elk, wild boar, ostrich, and duck,” according to the shop's website.

To celebrate their 500th anniversary, the Balsons have raised more than $7,000 for cancer research and threw a party at the town hall, the same location where the original Richard Balson started selling meat.

The family joke, Balson likes to say, is that they've never made enough money to retire. Balson says he looks forward to celebrating the 600th anniversary with his son and grandsons.