MARK-IT Trail: Market Memories - can you add to them?

New Road Cattle Market - copy of photo kindly provided by Cannon Williamson

Cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry are preparing to return to the town centre – as sculptures or murals, that is.  They will be part of the Spalding Civic Society’s MARK-IT Trail project and bound to stir memories of streets full of farm animals in the days of Spalding’s Tuesday & Saturday livestock markets.


The Society hopes Spalding residents would like to share their memories, to create a sort of word mosaic of what was once an important part of Spalding life and heritage.  They could be personal memories or stories heard from grandparents or older relatives.


Michael Elsden includes a nice story in his book More Aspects of Spalding.  “A Pinchbeck man had brought a small porker to market, which he sold for 38 shillings.  While he and the purchaser retired to the Black Bull for a drink or to settle the deal, a sharp-eyed onlooker re-sold the pig to another man, a butcher, for 37 shillings, then quietly disappeared amongst the market crowds.
It’s the kind of story that gets passed down within families.
In more recent times, John Honnor recalls he and his schoolmates called the market-men “bullock-whappers” from the sticks they carried to control the cattle, and how toddlers always wanted to be taken to see the chickens and rabbits, unaware many were being sold for the pot.


John Tippler and his mum were amongst the panicking crowd in the Sheepmarket when an angry pig broke out of its pen and charged towards the post office.


There’d been years of complaint about the market’s “squalid mess” and inconvenience, and as early as the 1870s there was a definite campaign to get the animals off the streets, but shopkeepers and pub owners agitated that it would cost them a huge loss in trade, and the campaign was defeated.  Not until 1938 was the move made.


In time children came to find the new purpose-built cattle market an attractive playing space.  Marian Boxall recalls nearly slipping into an open manhole when chasing about there with her friends after school as muck and straw were being sluiced away. The building even became the Spalding boy-scouts’ official headquarters at one point, says John Tippler. When the livestock market ceased in 1992, the Council sold the sales-ring building to Birch Grove Garden Centre for £1 – where it can still be seen.


The memories and stories are still there.  The Civic Society hopes that people would like to share them.  How?


On memory stick, disk or paper (typed, hand-written or printed), they can be sent to The Secretary, Spalding and District Civic Society, 78a Edinburgh Drive, Spalding, PE11 2RT. 

Or email us below.

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