Monday, November 09, 2009

The Last Baaa

OK, so I didn't see any tears being shed, but today was an emotional day down at Welshpool's Livestock Market. After more than a century of the buying and selling of the finest livestock in Mid Wales, the gavel fell for the last time. The biggest one day livestock market in Europe is being elbowed aside by Tesco, and is moving a mile down the road to the splendid new site, that was officially opened last Friday. And what an opening it was. I left mid afternoon, when a few of my country cousins were just beginning to do justice to the free bar. There were a fair few Landrovers still in the car park on Saturday morning, and one perched at a jaunty angle in the lorry wash. I have the names. Anyway this is the classic Welshpool Livestock Market photograph. Jonathon is selling, and no-one sells more. Perhaps it should have been John Jones, just for today. Richard is checking the lamb's condition, and no-one buys more. My guess is that there were about 8,000 fat lambs there today. No tears, but then farmers are real men, who don't cry.

This is a photograph of Richard Evans selling the 'dairies'. That's the first auctioneer's box I ever stood in. When I was a lad, my father used to put me in the box so that he could bid the price up from the crowd. My job was to nudge the auctioneer, to cover my father's bid, if he was caught out, buying his own animals.

And this is a photograph of the store cattle. Mid Wales is known throughout the UK as a good source of store cattle. Buyers come to Welshpool from all over Britain. there weren't that many there today. Well there won't ever be any more. I'm told that the grand old market will be flattened by Xmas, and the work will start on the new Tesco in the new year. By next July, I'll be able to relax with a cappuccino on the site where I bartered with the late Mal Edwards, argued ferociously with the fat lamb graders, sighed dejectedly on poor trades and suppressed a joyous sense of victory on good ones. To most people its just an area of old stock pens and buildings past there best, but most of the men (and its mainly men) took a wealth of memories home with them from Welshpool today.

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