It was a sad day for the Employeees of Rye Cattle Market Company today.(May 8 2002) A worker was seen kneeling on the ground deftly manouvering an oxy-acetalyne cutter through the bars of an iron cattle pen in his effort to dismantle it. A huge fork lift then lifted the pile of this old metal to a lorry which carted it off to be scrapped. But can the history of Rye Cattle Market be that easily scrapped?
The iron according to Larry Cook, one of the staff, was over one hundred and forty years old. He reflected briefly on the history of the market explaining that before about 1860, when the Market was resited at its present home transactions were conducted in Market Street outside the Town Hall where cattle, sheep, and lambs were driven from surrounding farms to be sold. Livestock roamed loose in the street, there were no iron pens then.
Frank Igglesten remembers one occasion before the war in about 1931 when bullocks were herded toward The Cattle Market in its present location; the main route was up the Landgate and down Tower Street but a bullock decided to enjoy the view off Hilder’s Cliff and went through the Landgate Tower entrance up the High Street and through the plate glass window of Langton’s shop (now Adams).
Wyn Vincent whose family lived in the railroad house at the top of the station remembers her mother telling her to close the gate on Wednesdays as the sheep would run into their garden and ruin it. She also asserts that most local butchers would be amongst the bidders to buy cattle and then take them to their own slaughter houses to be butchered. There were three slaughter houses in Rye. There was one to the left hand side of Ashbee the butchers; the only butcher left in Rye today. Another had an entrance in Cinque Ports Street and supplied the meat directly to Neaves butcher shop in the Mint and a third was at the bottom of the landgate.
Now it seems those hundreds of years of history have been consigned to the scrapheap. A sad day indeed.
Rye’s Own June 2002
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