COME Christmas, the queues at Canham’s will stretch round the block, writes Laurie Churchman.

Even now the place is packed. I’m here at this family butcher in Hove’s Church Road for a special moment... the first paper order for one of Mr Canham’s Christmas turkeys.

It’s slapped on the back wall, and by Christmas Eve, the shop will be plastered with them.

Mr Canham is a busy man, and one of few words.

He’s stacking boxes of eggs on the counter, below a dangling brace of half-plucked turkeys.

The queues here are legendary. They begin three days before Christmas, he explains.

“It’s been like this for the last 35 years”, says Mr Canham.

“Hopefully this year will be the same.”

The customers are hoping to get their hands on one of his famous free range Kelly Bronze turkeys.

Mr Canham says: “They’re traditionally reared on a local farm.

“I get 500 of them grown just for us every year.

“They cost £45 upwards, and that feeds eight.”

A regular customer comes in asking for enough turkey to feed four people.

“I come here pretty much every day”, he says. “It’s second to none.”

He’s an early bird. His order is the first to be written out by hand and patted onto the back wall.

“It’s a special moment. At Canham and Sons, they take orders the old-fashioned way, just as they have done every year for as long as Mr Canham can remember. He’s worked here for 35 years.

He explains: “We sort out all our Christmas orders alphabetically.

“We get over a thousand of them, and they’re all stuck on the back wall on sheets of paper.

“Then you can just come in, say your name, and pick up what you’ve asked for.”

“We take a £20 deposit for turkeys and geese, and you can get your pigs in blankets on the day.”

But it’s not just turkey. On the shelves there are jars of goose fat, lamb cutlets on the bone, bags of stuffing, and dense black pudding sausages. The counters are decorated with tinsel and holly between the bundles of bright-red mince, pork pies, and scotch eggs.

Mr Canham says: “As well as turkey, we normally get a lot of orders in for ribs of beef around Christmas time”.

And that’s precisely what he’ll be having for Christmas dinner.

He says: “I’ll be eating roast turkey and rib of beef with bread sauce and all the trimmings”.

Canham and Sons is a traditional butcher, and not for the faint-hearted. There are 12 staff working flat-out to shift all the meat. Customers watch as a butcher hurls down a huge, bloody side of beef on the counter-top and sets at it with a knife.

The shopping experience is more in-your-face than customers tend to find in larger shops.

But Mr Canham said: “The stuff we sell is miles better than what you get at the supermarket. That’s why our customers queue up here every year.”