Saturday, September 16, 2006

Ugly Hereford 2 | The Cattle Market

I remember Wednesdays throughout half term when I was at primary school. My mum often used to take me to Hereford Cattle Market. Every Wednesday farmers from the surrounding country bring their livestock for sale. In my youth you were permitted to wander freely amongst the animals patting the piggies and avoiding the patting from the cows.

A few years ago while babysitting I decided to relive my youth and take a colleague’s daughter to see the barnyard animals. What I found was akin to a fortress. Post 2001 foot & mouth fears ensured that all gates were locked and guarded while you couldn’t get within 100m of any livestock.

The cattle market has never quite recovered from foot & mouth. Nowhere near as many animals seem to reside in the pens on Wednesday mornings.

But is it time to move on? Now the cattle market is a scruffy blot on the town centre landscape. Aging, unappealing buildings and peeling paint greet any tourists travelling into the city from the A49 or ring road. Smashed windows, graffiti and cracked concrete not to mention the foreboding air the market takes on at night.

The problem with most Herefordian’s is that they are stuck in the past. They think moving this ugly utility to the outskirts of the town would betray the city’s market town history. If anything I’d say the opposite. By building brand new market facilities we’d be celebrating that history and renewing it while freeing up a considerable amount of land in the centre of Hereford for prime retail, leisure and parking thus ensuring the city has a future.

It’s because of these people living in the 20th century that we’re losing those that should be taking Hereford into the 21st. Most of my friends have moved away from the city labelling it dull, jobless and lacking entertainment. This isn’t something unique to my friends. All most all 20somethings voice desires to head to Cardiff, Cheltenham, Birmingham or London. Away from Hereford.

The market currently symbolises that old school V youth struggle perfectly and it’s what happens to it that ultimately will decide what direction Hereford’s development will take…

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