KUMBIA BUTCHER: Brian Lenihan has owned the Kumbia butcher for 42 years.
KUMBIA BUTCHER: Brian Lenihan has owned the Kumbia butcher for 42 years. Kate Benedict

76-year-old butcher carves up thoughts of retirement

AFTER nearly 60 years as a butcher, you'd think Brian Lenihan would be ready to hang up the knives and enjoy a well deserved rest.

But at 76, the Kumbia butcher is confident he still has plenty of meat to cut yet.

"I'll just keep on keeping on. I'm not in to gardening, so I guess I'll just keep working," he said.

Brian Lenihan started out as a slaughterman in 1959, when he was only 17.

By the time he was in his mid 30s, he had taken the keys to the popular Kumbia butchery.

"My brother bought it for me 42 years ago. He didn't have any kids so he had all the money," he joked.

The Bell St building will next year celebrate 100 years since it was originally built.

"There is a little plaque here saying it was built in 1920. It's the only thing older than the butcher," Mr Lenihan joked.

With a loving wife, five kids and an unhealthy passion for horse racing, Mr Lenihan is very proud of the town he grew up in.

"I went to school here and so did all of my kids," he said.

"I've had a few too many slow horses over the years, that's why the town still has a butcher."

While he loves what he does, Mr Lenihan said things had certainly changed over the years.

"When I went to school there were 150 students, today I think there is about 60," he said.

"Back then, there were three garages and a big engineering business.

"They have all closed down now."

Following a racing accident in 1961, Mr Lenihan took a job on the kill floor at Swickers.

"I was at Swickers for four or five years," he said.

"Back then we would do 100 pigs a day.

"These days, they do something like 20,000 pigs a week."

The long-standing president of the Kumbia Race Club remembers one particular day at Swickers where the team made a plan to get away early.

"We used to only kill pigs on Tuesday and this one particular day happened to be Melbourne Cup day," he said.

"So we all got in to work really early and made sure we didn't miss out on the big race."

After so many years, the popular Kumbia personality said there were no real secrets to how he stays so energetic.

"I've got a couple of good fellas helping me out," he said.

"It could be all the beers I had when I was much younger.

"When I started there was sawdust on the floor and we used to wrap the meat in newspaper.

"We didn't have the cold rooms like they have these days.'

Not one to big note himself, Mr Lenihan said even with all his years of experience, he was always doing things to perfect his craft.

"You never stop learning," he said.