Scotsman obituaries: David R Hall OBE, man who built Hall's butchery brand

David Robertson Hall OBE, butcher and manufacturer of quality meat products. Born: 30 August 1932 in Edinburgh. Died: 3 May 2021 in Edinburgh, aged 88

David Hall built an empire that supplies Scotland's butchers' counters to this day

You may not know the name David R Hall, but if you’re a lover of the Great Scottish Breakfast, you have a lot to thank him for. He was the managing director of the family firm Hall’s of Broxburn, which supplied sausages, black pudding and lots, lots more to Scotland’s butchers for generations.

After leaving Daniel Stewart’s College in Edinburgh at 16 years of age in 1948, David took up a butchery apprenticeship at his father’s shop in the city’s Corstorphine district.

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He had now graduated from weekend boy to fully fledged apprentice, allowing him to happily progress from plucking chickens to doing the delivery rounds with Rosy the horse.

National Service then called and David joined the Catering Corps with the Queens Own Royal West Kent Regiment, stationed in Duisburg in post-war Germany. After two years in Germany David returned to Scotland, again to work at the butchers shop in Corstorphine.

Working alongside his brother James and father David, the young, newly graduated apprentice started looking at expanding the David A Hall business to a new facility in Newhouse, Lanarkshire.

It was at this location that the team worked on supplying the nation’s butchers shops with sausages, bacon and pies, with the fledgling food business expanding from the initial four vans to a fleet servicing Scotland.

With David and James at the helm, the company grew to such an extent that there was a need to move the family firm to the larger Broxburn site. In 1962 the move to Broxburn was completed. At its peak well over 1,100 people, threaded through generations of local families, were actively employed.

At work everybody knew David and he knew them too. He prided himself on rolling up his sleeves and making time in his busy schedule to see the factory floor. If David was not at his desk he was found down on the factory floor, grafting on one of the many sausage lines.

This was his bread and butter – he knew the business inside and out. What David did not know about meat production was in reality not worthy of knowing.

The move to Broxburn was undoubtedly a great success and in 1986, with David’s great energy and ability, he orchestrated the creation of the world’s largest haggis, verified by the Guinness Book of Records.

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The site was always in a state of flux, with David overseeing expansion again in the late Eighties, gearing it up to service the new supermarket regime, concentrating on supplying the multiples and various food markets throughout all of the UK and abroad.

It was in this era that Hall’s expanded once more, into Woodburn, but unfortunately the new plant burnt down after three weeks of operation. It was a devastating event but friends in the food industry rallied round to help the company in this time of incredible uncertainty, donating machinery and expertise.

After this upheaval and subsequent rebalancing of the company David won the Captain of Industry award in 1992. He went on to obtain the Queen’s Royal Warrant in 1994 for the company. Massively respected in the food industry, David received the OBE for Services to the Meat Industry in 1995. It was on that high note that David took the cue to bow out of the incredibly pressurised work environment and those 4am daily starts to concentrate on family, sport and charity work.

An active curler in the Vets, David loved the thrills – and often the tumbles – the ice provided; he was the oldest Vet member of the Society Curling Club Rink that won a Gold Medal at the Edinburgh Curling Club’s 150-Year Bonspiel Competition in 2012, in between watching his beloved Hearts at Tynecastle. David also was heavily involved in the local Round Table group and The High Constables ward XII, steadily providing service to them from 1971 – he was their longest surviving member.

Also a successful car racing enthusiast from an early age, David was a member of the MG Car club, Lothian Car Club and Coatness Car Club, amassing countless trophies over the years, especially from the fabled Silverstone trips. He also took part in various Scottish Rallies in the 1960s.

David was an immensely popular, modest and generous man who took great joy in being with others and helping out in any way he could.

He is survived by his children Lucille, Linda, Lesley, David, John and Lisa, and ten grandchildren, Charlotte, Hamish, Ruby, Louisa, Sophie, Emmy, Cameron, Marcie, Andrew and James.

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