We Love Bury St Edmunds!


The cattle market in Bury forms one of my earliest memories of being out and about in the town, and as such may be a little sketchier than most.

I was often taken there by my Father who had many acquaintances in the farming community. As he worked, after the war, at the old War Ag., now known as MAFF in Southgate Street.

As I recall there were several ways into the market. I believe that most of the cattle trucks came in via Risbygate Street and parked near the swimming pool. There were also entrances via Kings Road where there was a pub, whose name escapes me, in which many of the traders drank. Most of the public entered from St Andrews Street South, behind Woolworth’s after walking through the store or going up the passage which was down the side of the Post Office.

I was always fascinated by the animals at that age; I would have been about 5 or 6. I would wander through the pens perhaps feeling a little sad, as most of them did not seem to want to be there…especially the young calves and lambs. There always seemed to be more pigs than anything else. The noise was horrendous, mostly squealing pigs….but strange to relate I loved the smells, various varieties of manure and when you got up close to the cattle, the lovely warm smell of their breath. There were also sheds full of chickens, ducks & geese with lots of crowing and clucking and it was always interesting to see that some of the hens had laid a egg in their cages. “Dad?… this one’s got an egg.” You did not put your fingers in the wire though or you would be severely pecked! As I well remember!

My Father was always interested in the furniture & bric-a-brack auctions and stalls, and would often buy things. Usually brass ornaments as he had a passion for polishing them up at home, probably because he had spent several years polishing brass buttons in the Army during the war. I inherited a lot of these artefacts when he passed away and I feel sure I must still have something he purchased there. I did not however inherit his passion for polishing.

Some of the Farmers from the Market used to drink in Everards Hotel bar. Usually, it seemed the more prosperous of them, as there were always several Jaguars parked at the back. I remember when I was older, that they would sit sipping their whiskeys and complaining about how poor they were!! But then farmers always did! I also remember that the Hotel Bar and I believe some of the pubs in Market area, were open from about 10 in the morning and stayed open all afternoon on Market days.

Also within the environs of the Cattle Market was, to me at least, the infamous outdoor swimming pool. To which, as someone else mentioned, we were taken from a nice warm school, by bus, on what seemed the coldest days of the year and made to get into freezing water on the pretext of teaching us to swim! Consequently I never learned to swim properly till I was much older and went to sea where I taught myself to swim in tropical waters!

I unfortunately do not remember the ‘New’ Cattle Market as I was living away from Bury most of the time from about 1968 onwards, only returning to visit my parents occasionally. I think my sister Carole may remember it better than me, as she worked in Boots and would have been around on Market days……She also liked pigs, and I remember that on the farm that friends of my parents managed in Lawshall, she was found when she was very young, in the barn eating pig nuts. I don’t think it did her any harm??

That’s all folks!

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