Future bright for Louth Livestock Market
Caroline Bingham visited The Louth Annual Christmas FatStock Show to see how the fortunes of the market have changed since her last visit in 2019.
What a difference a couple of years and a pandemic have made. As a Charter Town, Louth has held markets since the early 1600s and the Livestock Market has been a hub of rural life for over 250 years on its current site close to the town centre.
As the last remaining livestock market in Lincolnshire, a question had hung over its future but a campaign to resist a proposal to close and redevelop the site was successful and the landlord, East Lindsey District Council, and operators Masons have overseen the replacement of the roof, rewiring of the building and redecoration of the interior to bring the buildings up to a brighter, improved specification.
The other major change is that market day has moved from its traditional Thursday and is now held every Monday afternoon. Simon Williams, a director at Masons explained: “In March 2020, Newark Market closed and we found that some of that business returned to Louth but the timing of a sale later in the working week was not ideal for new buyers.
By changing to a Monday afternoon sale, more buyers now regularly attend Louth and numbers of sheep and cattle which have passed through the pens have risen to levels which we have not experienced for more than 20 years. Prices have also risen which has been good for farmers and for the Market.”
The Annual Christmas FatStock Show always draws a large crowd and creates a buzz, with competition for the Champion and Reserve Champion cattle and sheep and Champion and reserve pens. In addition, there was a Charity Auction with donated lots and a charity lamb, as well as a raffle and produce competition. Proceeds from the auction and raffle will be shared between Lincolnshire Rural Support Network (LRSN) and Macmillan Cancer Support.
The Market continues to provide additional amenities and services to those who work in the rural economy.
Generations of local farming families have used the Market, and the Christmas FatStock Show especially, to not only actively buy and sell in time for the festive season but many also come to soak up the atmosphere and meet old friends.
“The show has attracted some of the best livestock bred in the area and some of the prime beef will be available in local butchers, with a minimum of food miles and total traceability of the product,” added Simon. Many of the sheep were destined for export as carcasses to Middle Eastern countries where demand continues to grow.
With 17 classes across cattle, sheep and produce, competition was fierce for the champions’ silverware. More than 40 prime Lincolnshire reared beef show cattle were auctioned at the sale with a beast owned by David Nickson of
Farlesthorpe winning the Overall Champion Beast. The Unhaltered Champion was also won by Mr Nickson.
Reserve Champion was won by P & B Hodgson & Sons Ltd of Tumby Woodside while Bridge House Farm of Gosberton won Best Presented.
In the sheep classes Champion Lamb was won by G W Allison of Thoresway, while Reserve Champion went to Scrivelsby Farms Ltd.
The produce classes were dominated by Louth based Woolliss & Sons who won the Butchers Best Lincolnshire Sausage, Butchers Best Speciality Sausage, Butchers Best Haslet and Butchers Best Pork Pie.
Support for the rural community
Staff from LRSN entered into the spirit of the day as Bo Peep (aka Agricultural Chaplain, Rev Canon Alan Robson) and his flock, collecting donations and raising a smile from the visitors.
The Lincolnshire Rural Support Network (LRSN) office at Louth Livestock Market is open for show and sale days, where their nurses provide health checks and a listening ear. LRSN is a lifeline for many who find themselves isolated or in need of support within the rural community.
“LRSN has continued to provide services throughout the pandemic and improve our walk-in services as well as make plans for a new mobile Health Hut screening unit which will be launched in early 2022,” said Alan. “All communities and especially some rural ones have faced unprecedented challenges with people who are used to being strong and resilient becoming frail and vulnerable through no fault of their own. We have continued to be here to discuss their physical and mental health, as well as offer them support, through our network of volunteers and contacts, helping to manage the evolving difficulties in their business.”
The scope of issues which LRSN addresses range from mental capacity as the population ages, to Rural Payments Agency late payments, succession resolution, self-harm, stress and family disputes. LRSN help is offered for no cost to the farm worker, rural person or farmer and utmost confidentiality is maintained by the team and even amongst the team.
LRSN has over 30 on its team, most of whom, including their trustees, are volunteers. The Health Hut will be launched on 10th February at the Lincolnshire Farming Conference at the Lincolnshire Showground.
You can find out more about the work of LRSN at: www.lrsn.co.uk