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Singapore Free Press (31/Dec/1936) - World's Most Famous Carver Retires




"Cut-Throat Charlie's" Career

London, Dec. 16.

Charlie Brown (sometimes known as "cut-throat Charlie") best-known carver in the world, has retired on pension after 58 years behind the joints at Simpson's-in-the-Strand, London.

Doyen of London's carvers, he wielded the knife on his first saddle of mutton at the famous Strand chop house on Aug. 28. 1878. Since then there has scarcely been a day on which he has not carved at least fifteen saddles of mutton or loins of beef, not to mention turkeys at Christmas time, and it is estimated that in his 58 years he has carved more than 375,000 joints.

When he can be caught in a mood of reminiscence, Charlie Brown will tell stories by the hour of famous people — —their names are only a legend to the present generation — —who were his friends, and of London in the leisurely days of the handsom cab and the "growler"; days when Queen Victoria was celebrating her jubilee, when "the war" meant the Boer War and Mafeking Night had not occurred to add a new word to the English language.

His Secret

Charlie Brown, who has been immortalised in a Bateman sketch, is the greatest living expert on the art of carving. Here are some of his aphorisms:

  • The great secret of the art of carving is delicate wrist-work and not brute force.
  • The carver should decorate the plate— — just as an artist plans his picture — by putting the best slice in the middle and the smaller pieces around it.
  • People are inclined to eat less at lunch time than they did half a century ago. but they do not eat so quickly.
  • Roast beef and mutton of Old England are more popular than ever they were.
  • London life has speeded up since he first came to Simpson's and people are recognising more and more the value of a fortifying meal.

Highlight of Charlie Brown's career was when he carved for King George and Queen Mary at Houghton Tower in Preston, Lancashire in July 1913. Charlie Brown, lent by Simpson's for the occasion. carved a sirloin of beef before the King and Queen. The luncheon was served at the historic table at which King James I lunched and knighted a loin of beef, creating it "Sir Loin."

American Offers

During his 58 years. Charlie Brown has collected an armoury of carving knives. He still occasionally uses one which has been in use nearly all that time although now it is no thicker than a penknife blade.

Many an American visitor has tried to lure Charlie to the United States. Ten years ago he had a handsome offer to go to Philadelphia and perform twenty minutes' work with his blades at a civic banquet, but he declined the offer.

In recent years. Charlie Brown has appeared in several films and has also spoken on the radio. His immediate junior and successor as head carver is Arthur Carter, who has served for 52 years at Simpson's. Until two years ago, Carter Brown and Walter Bruce, who retired in 1934, formed a triumvirate of the carving knife, who between them totalled 159 years of service —a record which no other tavern or chop house in the world could equal.