It is the end of an era for Hatherleigh as the final livestock auctions are held in the market.
Vicks the auctioneers are hanging up their gavel and selling the site to property developer Kingswood Homes.
As you drive into the town, you are greeted by the sign ‘Hatherleigh: an ancient market town’. The town itself dates back to 879 and in 1220, a charter was granted by Henry III for weekly market. You won’t find many much older in the UK.
The town’s market has overcome such disasters as smallpox which killed many of Hatherleigh’s population, as well as the Foot and Mouth outbreak of 2001. But as the last livestock go under the hammer, work is going on behind the scenes to make sure that the popular Tuesday stall market continues.
The market which draws hundreds of people from miles around each week will be run by not-for-profit company the Ruby Country Partnership for the community from April 1. Negotiations are currently being held to secure an indoor space on the site so the market can continue even when building work starts.
The long-term plan is to build housing on the site, although this will not be for some time as the outline planning permission which Kingswood Homes secured for 105 houses on the site has now lapsed.
Charles Dumpleton, director of the partnership, said: “We have got to hit the ground running, because there is not going to be much time for getting things organised, and it is not as simple as it looks. The stalls are here to stay, though, with people’s support. Things will change, these are going to be challenging times, but with the support of the public, we will make it work.”
Representatives from Kingswood Homes are meeting with a working party of community representatives and town councillors to discuss the future of the Tuesday stall market.