U.C.P. Memories

My mother used to take me into the UCP (United Cattle Products) Cafeteria for tripe and chips if we weren't going to have a pudding basin of chips & beans (haricot no sauce) for tea. If it was tatty 'ash weather, she would make parkin when we got home (although you had to wait weeks for it to "mature").
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In my younger days I lived in the shadow and smell of the UCP (United Cattle Products) Tripe Works - Arnold and Hough in Ashton-under-Lyne. [...] While still working for the UCP, George went to work at the Manchester Abattoirs and also the UCP Works in Blackpool for a while. As the work came to an end at Ashton in 1957 Ronnie went on to the Management side at Entwistle’s Tripe Works that could then have become Dixon's Pork and Bacon Company. It is now the sight of one of the largest abattoirs in Europe. At some point, George went to work for a Tripe Works in Hyde. In 1962 "The Ashton-under-Lyne Reporter" was present to observe the final act of demolition - the felling of the 70ft chimney at Arnold's Tripe Works.
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My dad had really bad ulcers when he came back from the war, and tripe was one of the things he was told to eat, so I had to walk down Slade Lane, up Albert Road, to Stockport Road where the U.C.P. shop was (and Draycotts, my barber) and buy tripe. I ate it many times but never liked it, and the smell would linger in the house for days after me mum cooked it. Like eating white octopus.
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Mum was a great cook, smashing. She did well with most things, with the possible exception of tripe and onions. I've never really got into tripe. But one trusted one's parents not to poison you in those days; you didn't ask questions. If it was put in front of you, you ate it. An innate trust, quite touching really. And I didn't know what tripe was. We lived opposite Frank Wong's Chinese and next to him was UCP – United Cattle Products, known colloquially as the Tripe Shop – and in the window were all kinds of animals you wouldn't dream of eating, including big sheets of tripe looking like bed linen. Dad preferred his honeycombed, cut with onions and carrots. But it was a while before I said: "Leave me out of the tripe".
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In 1948 I was taken to Bolton to buy my engagement ring by my boyfriend Albert. It was the Saturday nearest to Valentine's Day in that year, the date of my eighteenth birthday. We caught the train from Buxton into Manchester's Piccadilly Station, walked across the city to catch a bus to Bolton. The ring was purchased. Its cost, all of eighteen guineas. Albert not long de-mobbed from the RAF didn't have much money in his pocket but he was determined to make our engagement day something special and he did. Albert said we would eat nicely to celebrate the day and that is why we went to the UCP restaurant in Bolton for our meal, selecting the upstairs dining area which was more high class to us who had never eaten in a restaurant before. The tables had clothes on and the cutlery was set out, and our order was taken by a waiter from our table. "Oh, so posh!" we thought. Then when our meal came, we hadn't a clue where to start with all the cutlery. Both from working class backgrounds who hadn't a clue about dining decorum, we watched others sitting near us to see where to start and gradually worked out the cutlery we should use for the fish. I might add that, after Albert had paid for the ring, he had only enough money left to afford one course and that was fish and chips. Luckily, we had the return rail fare home! I recall the meal and everything being excellent and to me it remains one of the most romantic days of my life. Albert and I married in 1949. We loved, cherished, honoured, never had to obey each other, until death did us part. We often recalled that wonderful day. And here I am now, age of 86 on Facebook having cause to further recall the UCP restaurants because someone had asked if anyone recognised or knew about tripe, showing a picture of the honeycomb variety. This is the reply I posted: "Tripe, black and white, honeycomb or thick seam. All in my diet when a child and whenever I visited England it was always got in for me. I absolutely love it. Lots of pepper, salt and swamped in brown malt vinegar. Yummy yum. You see the tripe I ate wasn't cooked. It was dressed by some method that made it right to eat it raw. Very nourishing, believe me who has lived to age 86. Secret of long life eat more tripe. That is *if* you can buy dressed tripe anymore. There was a company who specialised in this dish called UCP restaurants usually combined with sales of fish and chips." I am so glad to find your site so that I could read more about UCP and reminding me of that special day in my life and the fifty-six years I had with my dearest Albert.
• Source: Dorothy Bonfield

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