U.C.P. Memories

I was born in 1943 in Clayton area of Manchester and often as a kid would either walk or occasionally catch a trolley bus with my grandma down Ashton New Road into Beswick to do shopping. Ashton New Road in Beswick had shops all the way down it to almost into Ancoats. The U.C.P. shop (United Cattle Products) on Ashton New Road has always stuck in my mind. That would have been back in the mid to late forties. We would go to the U.C.P. shop where we had to present the shop keeper with our "Ration Book". I also remember my mum working at the U.C.P. on Market street in town centre Manchester near Debenhams as I recall in the mid fifties.
• Source: Tony Massey

I really miss tripe and elder from the local U.C.P. (United Cattle Products) shop with white vinegar and a glass of fresh Green top (non pasteurised) full cream milk.
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In its heyday 60 years ago, there were 146 branches of United Cattle Products across Lancashire and the north of England. UCPs, as they were affectionately known, attached butchers' shops to restaurants and specialised in the cheapest cuts, such as tripe and black pudding. Their meat never entered our Jewish home but I still have a vivid memory of walking past a U.C.P. in central Manchester with my grandfather, en route for a "coffee dash" at a Kardomah café. It was raining but there was a long queue of housewives outside, and the shop's windows were bedecked with sheets of off-white tripe and dark coils of black pudding.
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The decline in the popularity of tripe coincided with growing economic prosperity from the mid-1950s onwards. As poverty declined an ingredient associated with poorer times was rejected. This falling off in retail sales in the late 1950s and early 1960s, came at a time when there was no restaurant culture in Britain which might have been able to introduce it to new audiences or at least save it from near-extinction. It sounds fanciful today, but 30 years ago there was a restaurant chain in the north of England which featured tripe almost as a signature dish. The romantically-named United Cattle Products (UCP) restaurants had cold tripe salads, tripe and onions and steak and cowheel pie permanently on the menu. Sadly, neither the company nor its restaurants survived.
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My father was a young man in the 1920's and used to go down to the UCP on a Saturday night after a couple of pints. He always ate tripe as it comes, by itself, with salt and vinegar. He ate pigs tripe as well (preferring the unbleached). My mother use to send me to our local tripe shop. Hilda use to say when I got there 'is it honeycomb or thick seam today?' When I was young I can remember going to the market in bomb-damaged Great Yarmouth, you could get tripe and cowheel bits on top of your chips. Half a cowheel stewed with steak makes a wonderful dish. You can suck the marrow out of the bones, leave the gravy to set and slice it (brawn). Those were the days. If you are put off by the thought of offal, don't eat cheap burgers and sausages.
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