Petersens’ Quality Meats at New Farm has been operating continuously as a butcher for over a century – 112 years to be precise – and is the oldest traditional butcher in Brisbane city.
The shop at 105 James Street was built as a butchery in 1901. Baynes Brothers Butchery was the first business to operate out of the shop, keeping meat on ice and selling it the same day.
It’s said Sir Samuel Griffith, Queensland Premier in the late 1800s, bought his meat there.
Baynes Brothers sold the shop to T & A Scarborough in 1913, and they ran it till 1918.
Australia suffered grievously in WW1. Many New Farm families’ sons never returned from the front and the first signs of the depression were starting to bite.
A new page in Petersens’ history was turned – it was purchased by the Queensland Government as the New Farm State Butchery.
State government owned butcher shops were started by the Labor Government as an experiment to stabilise the prices of basic household staples.
In the end, the noble idea of keeping the working man supplied with affordable products became very costly. State butcheries lost £6,000 in the 14 years they operated, and in 1926 the State Labor Government began dismantling the structure, selling off shops.
The New Farm State Butchery was among the last to be sold by the Queensland Government in 1923.
The new owners, Issian & Chadwick Burrows, initially leased the shop to George Lemke, who operated there until 1933.
Burrows Brothers butchers started in 1933. The shop was given a new frontage, and a large refrigerated cold-room, made from imported Spanish cork pressed between hoop-pine boards. To this day it is still operating at a consistent two degrees Celsius.
During the war, rationing was imposed on some basic commodities, including meat (meat offal, sausages, ham, rabbit and chicken were exempt).
From 1944 until 1948 Australians were limited to 2lbs (less than 1kg) of meat per week – payable by ration stamps.
Burrows Butchery transected Queensland history again in 1951. At that time, the Queensland Government imposed price controls on meat, a legacy of WWII rationing.
This had made butcher shops increasingly unprofitable. Butchers bound together forming a state-wide ‘strike’ with shops closing all over Queensland. The government agreed to 3 pence per pound price increase, and they reopened their doors.
In 1971 the shop was leased by the Burrows family to Alan and Beris Petersen. Alan has a long-standing reputation in Brisbane for upholding traditional butchering skills and his love of old fashioned cuts is unrivaled. Alan operated Petersens Quality Meats
until its sale in 2012 to the George family, when he retired aged 87.
After 112 years, Petersens’ Quality Meats is keeping the legacy alive, one steak at a time.