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One Man and His Tripe

My love of tripe began in 1970 at the age of 10. My Mum had bought tripe bits from Barnsley Market for our pet dachshund Heidi. I asked what they were and she explained it was cow stomach.

This surprised me as I previously I’d always thought that tripe was a fish product as it was sold in the then outdoor Barnsley Fish Market in May Day Green.

I asked if I could try some of the tripe and liked it, so my mum started buying it for me regularly.

When the new indoor Barnsley market opened in 1974, I got a Saturday job as a butcher’s assistant at Mick Chapman’s meat stall in the new meat and fish section, directly opposite J & M Gosling’s Tripe Dresser’s stall.

In those days there was another tripe stall called Spencer’s in the market. They were a long established Sheffield based firm who also operated stalls in other local markets.

I became friendly with the Gosling family and frequently enjoyed a plate of tripe along with other offal delicacies such as elder, pigbag, wessel and chitterlings as well as brawn and cow heel.

On 29th July 1975, The Queen and Prince Philip visited Barnsley and officially opened the new market complex. While on walkabout Prince Philip stopped at the tripe stall and spoke to the staff. He also spoke at length to butcher Albert Hirst about his famous black puddings which were subsequently supplied to Buckingham Palace by Royal Appointment.

Another notable customer at Gosling’s was the late comedian and former Golden Shot host Charlie Williams. He was regularly seen at the stall tucking into a plate of tripe while laughing and joking with other customers. He was a well known face round Barnsley, I sometimes met him while walking the dog and talked with him about tripe and other subjects.

In the hot dry summer of 1976, I went to a show at Beverley Racecourse. As well as having a yard of ale competition, they had the all Yorkshire “yard of tripe” contest which I decided to take part in. Contestants had to eat three strips of tripe each a foot long by an inch wide as quickly as possible. No condiments were allowed. I made it through to the final of the last four, but didn’t win.

The Gosling family set up their tripe dressing factory in a former fire station in Highstone Road, Worsbrough Common and kindly showed me the entire process of washing and bleaching the tripe in lime baths. Despite seeing tripe in its rawest form, this didn’t put me off one bit.

As new EU rules were introduced, it was clear that the family would have to spend a considerable sum of money to bring their tripe dressing factory up to required standards. So in the mid 1990s they ceased production, instead buying their products from Fisher and Sons in Newark on Trent.

The old fire station building still survives and is now used as a motor repair workshop.

My late Granddad Jack, a Liverpool tram driver for most of his working life, was also a tripe lover. After his retirement he and my Grandma moved across the Pennines to join us in Barnsley. He became a regular customer of Gosling’s. In my teens, I often went to my grandparents’ house for lunch and was treated to tripe and chips or sometimes my Grandma’s excellent tripe Scouse.

After finishing University in 1982, I moved to London due to the economic climate in South Yorkshire at the time. I took up a job as a computer programmer based in the city of London and had almost given up hope of being able to buy tripe locally until one day when I took a lunch hour walk.

While passing Smithfield meat market, I decided to take a look inside and saw a stall with dressed tripe hanging up. Of course, I had to buy some and very good it was too. I became a regular customer there during my 6 years in the capital.

In the summer of 1983 I went backpacking round France with two friends. While we were staying in Beaugency, we hired bikes and headed off to explore the countryside. We stopped for lunch at the Café du Midi in the village of Mazangé near Vendôme where I enjoyed delicious andouillette spiced tripe sausage washed down, of course, by a glass of local Loire wine.

On all my subsequent visits to France I have searched out the andouillette on restaurant menus. I always make sure it is the tripe variety too as it is sometimes made with other things.

I moved to Chester in 1997 and usually buy my tripe from David Joinson butchers in the market. I still visit Barnsley regularly to see my parents and always pay a visit to Goslings for a plate of tripe and a selection of goodies to bring back with me.

In 2008, Chester based brewer Spitting Feathers opened its Brewery Tap outlet in a restored 17th century Jacobean town house in Lower Bridge Street. Their head chef, Ian Derbyshire, who was also brought up in Barnsley is a tripe lover. He has knocked up many wonderful offal tripe dishes including traditional tripe and onions, creamy tripe and mushrooms, and the wonderful crispy fried salt and pepper tripe.

I’m a frequent visitor to Frankfurt in Germany, where my elder son now lives. Tripe (Kaldaunen) remains popular in southern Germany and I’ve tried s a few of the dishes on offer. Look out for Kaldaunenwurst (German tripe sausage), also Frikadellen aus Kaldaunen (Spicy tripe meatballs).

Unfortunately, my love of tripe has not been passed on to my two sons. They, and my wife, all hate it so I guess that leaves more for me. The only other family member who shared my love of tripe was our pet golden retriever Sandy, who passed away 18 months ago.

John Murray

January 2013

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