IT was the end of an era as the bell rang out to mark the start of sales at Abergavenny’s historic livestock market for the final time this week.
There was a sombre mood in the air and mixed emotions felt by many as more than 100 people from the farming community across Monmouthshire and Newport brought around 250 cattle and over 1,000 sheep to buy and sell for the last time in the 150 year history of the town’s market.
The first sales of sheep began at around 10.15am, led by auctioneer Mike Davies, of Newland Rennie Wilkins.
The closure follows that of Newport Cattle Market which was held in Pill for 165 years until it closed in 2009 and the site was redeveloped and Monmouth Livestock Market which held auctions for 127 years near the town centre until 2003.
It also marks the end of more than a decade of negotiations over the Abergavenny site, which Monmouthshire council says is dated and cannot provide modern animal welfare and accessibility.
It will now be demolished to make way for a new multi-million Morrisons supermarket and library as part of a scheme to regenerate the site.
Among the farmers who have been coming to Abergavenny for decades was 91 year-old David Lloyd.
Mr Lloyd, who runs a 150-acre sheep and beef farm at Llanfair Kilgeddin, near Usk, has been coming every week for 80 years and described his last visit as an emotional day.
He said: “I’ve been coming here most of my life and have endless memories. As a young lad I would come with my grandfather and his cattle.
“Over the years I have made many friends and watched the market grow and grow.
“It’s an emotional and sad day and a terrible shame.”
Fruit and veg seller, George Price, 63, of Tonypandy, has been a regular at the market since he was eight and remembers the horse sale on a Saturday.
“There used to be a produce market here where I sold geese, ducks, chickens and pigs. In its heyday it was a good market, especially in the 60s,” he added.
Farmer, Steve Powell, 54, of Blackwood, who brought 54 lambs to the sale expressed mixed emotions.
He said: “I remember coming here as a five year-old with my grandfather. It is sad to see it end but we must look forward.”
Agricultural merchant, Howard Marsden, 68, of Pontypool, has been attending the market for 40 years.
“It’s the end of an era and very sad for the older generation whose wives do their shopping in the butchers and visit the bank. They won’t be able do that anymore. The council want progress but they could have refurbished the site as has been done at Skipton in Yorkshire.”
Avril Preece, of Abergavenny, came with her family to sell sheep and was taking photos as a keepsake.
She said: “Three generations of my family have been coming here and I have many memories of visiting when I was growing up. It’s not just about selling and buying it’s also meeting place.”
Keith Spencer, company secretary for the Abergavenny and Newport Market Auctioneers Ltd, said: “It’s the same emotions felt when Monmouth and Newport closed but the big difference here is that we have a new market to go to.
“A lot of people have been coming here for a long time. It’s 45 years since I first came here and times have changed. Even the most avid supporter will accept that the market does not meet modern standards and requirements.”