Brightons butcher shop not reopening due to impact of fire caused by lightning strike

A butcher has taken the difficult decision not to reopen a popular Brightons shop devastated by a fire during a lightning strike.

By Jonathon Reilly
Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 12:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 12:48 pm

An inferno took hold inside the Thomas Johnston Butchers store in the village’s Main Street in August 2020 as the country was hit by thunderstorms.

The blaze gutted the property, rendering what remains of the building as “structurally unsafe” and leaving its owner, Richard Johnston, with no choice but to raze it.

Falkirk man Richard, who first opened the business in 1992, says the combination of the fire and the effects of the pandemic meant reviving Brightons’ Thomas Johnston Butchers shop simply wasn’t viable.

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The Thomas Johnston Butchers shop in Brightons was devastated by a fire which started when thunderstorms hit the country in August 2020. Picture: Scott Louden.

He hopes locals will continue to buy their meat from the business via a new delivery service and the ‘call and collect’ option available at its Falkirk store.

Richard said: “After much consideration we have made the difficult decision not to re-build and therefore not to re-open the Brightons shop.

“This decision has not been taken lightly and we would like to take this opportunity to thank all our loyal Brightons customers of the last 29 years and to express our gratitude for all your support and kindness since August.

“Going forward, we would like to continue to serve the Brightons community and are offering a delivery service starting in January. There is also a ‘call and collect’ service at the Falkirk shop.

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“Of course, we would love to welcome you into the Falkirk shop where you will receive that personal, professional service from our experienced staff and where you will see familiar faces from the Brightons shop.”

No business could properly legislate for either a pandemic or lightning striking its premises and causing a fire to rip through the entire building, never mind both.

Having surveyed the full extent of the damage, Richard felt there was little alternative but to call time on the store – a place which will always hold a place in his heart.

He continued: “We had to start all over again and I’m not getting any younger.

“I opened the shop 29 years ago. It used to be Newton’s Butchers and Baking. It had been closed for a year-and-a-half when I opened it.

“I’ll miss the customers the most. I had a great relationship with the customers over that period.

“The business did well – at the end I was employing 16 people.

“The storm night, when you have five fire engines all around it and there was an inferno, that’s the last memory, I suppose.

“Christmas time was when it was busiest with queues. We had seven shops and were supplying six shops from there. It was a hive of activity with getting all the steak pies and beef organised.

“It was hard work but it was satisfying because everyone was looking forward to Christmas.

“We’re going to do a delivery service at the start of the year. Because of the pandemic, we’ve not had a consistency of staff.

“People are getting the virus and because people are getting pinged on their phone, you never know what staff you’re going to have. Hopefully things will settle down on that front and we can provide that service.

“I would like to thank the customers for being loyal. I've had nothing but good experiences in Brighton.”

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