It was in 1985 that the fifth generation butchers, brothers Andrew and John Green, acquired a long-established butchers shop in Austhorpe Road, Crossgates run by Mrs. Sybil Wilson and Mr. Harold Lunn.
Sybil’s husband George founded the business in 1928, but died in his 40s, leaving Sybil at the helm supported by Harold, who had worked in the shop from school and eventually became a partner in the business.
They ran the business until Sybil reached 84, when they handed over to the Greens. Sadly, Mrs. Wilson passed away years later, having attained her milestone 100th birthday. Harold continued to visit the shop – both for his own meat and to keep tabs on John and Andrew’s new ideas for the shop!
Over the ensuing years, John, Andrew and their father, Bob, developed and expanded the business. The main retail area was completely refitted and upgraded in 1991, followed by the installation of a brand-new delicatessen area and a cooked meats counter, all of which was cooked on the premises.
John & Andrew were overjoyed when the business was named ‘England’s Best Butcher 2005 – 2006’. John said at the time, “Our reputation is built on our commitment to providing only the best quality products, backed up by customer service levels that we strive to make second to none. Whilst we never lose sight of the fact that our success is built on our role as the local family butcher, offering traditional quality meat products; we have also expanded and diversified our product range to include pies, cooked meats and a wide range of delicious hand made sausages. Now we are almost as well known for our pies and sausage as for our quality meat.”
While Wilsons has always been noted for its range of quality traditional and innovative butchery products, it was the pie-making side of the operation that first brought fame to the business, including a host of prestigious award wins in meat industry competitions.
John and Andrews father, Bob, retired from the business in 1994 when he was 60, but was always only a telephone call away and still helped out in the bakery and shop until his death in 2015. He was the “Father” of the Wilsons pork pie and will always be remembered as such.
After over 25 years at the original shop, the shop next door came vacant and John & Andrew decided to “grasp the nettle” and expand the shop and put in a checkout system to enable customers to buy cooked and raw products and pay for it in one go. The new layout also allowed the shop to have a hot counter for serving hot foods such as bacon sandwiches, carvery sandwiches and pie and peas. Brian Turner, celebrity chef, kindly agreed to open the new shop on 5th February 2013
In July 2013, Wilsons were named Britain’s best butchers. This really was the best accolade the shop could get and Andrew and John were so proud that they were able to take their Mum and Dad with them to Birmingham for the presentation evening.
After being asked to supply pies at Headingley Stadium, during Leeds Rhinos games, Wilsons bought a pie van for the job. This was also used to supply workers at businesses in East Leeds with pies and sandwiches. This new part of the business became so popular that now wilsons have over 7 vans doing rounds in different areas of Leeds.
Today, the next generation of the Green family are well and truly involved in the business, John’s son Adam manages the company’s pie production factory while John’s daughter Francine manages the office at the Crossgates shop. Andrew’s son Chris run the Normanton pie van operation, while Andrew’s daughter Sarah helps in the office. The sixth generation have arrived!
Wilsons had been members of the industry-leading Guild of Q Butchers since 1988. The Guild is an association of independent meat retailers committed to offering top quality meat and meat-related products, with customer service to match. High standards of hygiene, food safety and risk assessment are essential criteria for membership, with independent audits carried out at all member shops. Wilsons ceased their membership of the guild at the end of 2019