East Anglia: Norfolk Livestock Market celebrates its tenth anniversary

A special show and sale to mark the 10th anniversary of the revival of Norfolk Livestock Market took place at the week.

Since the market switched back to the traditional Saturday sale, numbers have been steadily growing, said director and farmer David Ball.

The anniversary show and sale was a celebration of the incredible achievement to hold a livestock market again – the only survivor in Norfolk, he added.

“This is a wonderful achievement, more incredible because, it was thought at the time, that it would never happen. But 10 years on, we have learned a lot, shed a few tears, have seen some fantastic highs and also some depressing lows,” said Mr Ball.

“It was a fantastic event and we raised �2,000 for charity, mainly for Norwich’s Priscilla Bacon Lodge. There was a great attendance and we sold about 1,000 sheep and 100 head of cattle and calves.”

Mr Ball was one of three-strong team, which campaigned following the closure of the market during the 2001 foot-and-mouth epidemic to re-open the market.

After farmers had raised an estimated �100,000 in share capital and with the support of Norwich City Council, the then chairman mid-Norfolk farmer, Peter Howell, presided at the re-opening on Monday, August 12, 2002.

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It cost between �30,000 and �40,000 to adapt the site to hold the fortnightly sales of store (half-grown) cattle and sheep. Although the first sales were held on Mondays, the later switch to a Saturday sale day was to prove more popular and numbers started increasing.

“Since our move back to the Saturday auction, which was always the traditional sale day, we’ve seen tremendous growth in the sheep section and the spectacular success of our most recent venture, the calf auction, which continues to grow week on week.

“We have also gained new vendors and purchasers at every sale and the market continues to grow,” said Southwold farmer Mr Ball.

“With our very successful Christmas poultry sales which we started in 2010, the future and our shareholders’ future looks as secure as it can be,” he added.

As part of the celebrations, Broadland farmer Pat Key donated a lamb, sold in aid of local cancer charities in recognition of the loss of many good supporters over the past few years.

When a black ewe lamb was sold at the first revived market at Hall Road on August 12, 2002, it was sold 16 times and made �702 for the James Paget Hospital’s intensive care unit appeal. It was finally bought by farmer Philip Eagle, of Bawburgh, who bought the lamb twice for a total of �90, to give her a home.

At the sale, there will be five prizes for sellers of store cattle and calves and also best cow and calf. There were also prizes for best pen of five or more lambs as well other exhibitors in the sheep section.

“We would like to thank our chairman, Steven Lutkin, and fellow director Mike Beckett, staff, vendors, purchasers and shareholders for supporting us so well throughout the last 10 years. Without you we would not have a market. Let’s look forward to the next 10 years,” added Mr Ball.

Livestock markets were once a feature of every town in Norfolk but only Norwich and Aylsham survived into the 21st century. The mid-1990s saw the closure of markets at King’s Lynn, Beccles, Wickham Market and finally Bury St Edmunds, the last surviving Suffolk market. Colchester livestock market still continues to today.