Preserving the Memory of Livestock Markets in Tewkesbury

by John Dixon
Taxi Booking Office, October 2008 (J. Dixon)
Taxi Booking Office, October 2008 (J. Dixon)Click Image
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This article was inspired by a request from the Civic Society, which wishes to place a plaque on the wall of the building that today houses a tax hire firm in Oldbury Road. It also enabled the use of photographs of Hone the Auctioneer, kindly made available for study by Angus Hone.

This building was the ‘brick built office and rostrum’ for the livestock market, which operated here after 1850. From 1949 to 1987, the site was converted into a garage for Warner’s Bus Company.
Market ‘brick built office and rostrum’
Market ‘brick built office and rostrum’Click Image
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Tewkesbury’s market is even older than Cheltenham's and receives a mention in the Domesday Book.[1] Although markets have been a central feature of Tewkesbury’s historical development, it is likely that established livestock markets arrived after the development of the railways.

The only maps available before 1840 – the Enclosure Map of 1808 and Croome's Map of 1825 do not reveal its presence but by 1857 the Tewkesbury Weekly Record was reporting “the supply of stock was unusually good”.[2] It is present on the next (O.S.) map of 1883.

It was the Tewkesbury Board of Health which pioneered moves to have a built market in an attempt to improve public health after the two cholera epidemics which caused the board to be established. In 1859 it purchased the Sun Inn to make a market place for cattle and sheep and pulled part of it down; it ran alongside both sides of the newly built Sun Street. (Now demolished, it is replaced by the Nutrition Centre and Woody’s.)[3]

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The market was then owned by Philip Thomas, an auctioneer and J.P. who died in 1871. Between 1871 and 1881 Waldron’s Alley led to the Oldbury but, according to John Rogers, “since the cattle market has been enlarged the thoroughfare has been stopped”.[4]

By Thomas’ death, he had opened a second market on the north side of Station Street (the south accommodating the Tewkesbury Branch of the Midland Railway). His son Francis, who became Mayor in 1873, struggled and, in 1885 the year of his premature death, the Town Council was expressing “concern re Mr Thomas' Cattle Yard was dirty; [he] claimed that since inspection, it had been paved”.[5] By the end of the year, there was the announcement: “Sale of Auctioneers: Philip Thomas & Sons to George Hone of Stoke Orchard”.[6] By 1901 the former farmer of 1,000 acres had opened a new cattle market in Oldbury Road (now Hone’s Court).

Aerial Photograph of the Oldbury in 1928

2. Station Street & 4. Hone’s 1927 market 3. Hone’s former Market & 4. Hone’s 1927 market
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Pre-1914 Sun Street Sheep Market behind left the Market Shops & The Happy Return

(Anita Redman)

Thus by the 1909-1913 Land Tax Survey,[7] there were three market operators vying for trade:
Ref: Place Type owner Occ. Size (sq. y.) rent GRV details
3191. Sun StsheepTTCHone434£25£450ground with 76 pens of iron, bricked yards
3201. Sun StsheepTTCMoore342£25£450ground with 59 pens of iron, bricked yards.
12972. Station St.cattleMooreMoore2420£30£1350partly paved yard with iron sheep and cattle pens. brick built office and rostrum.
12293. Oldbury RdcattleHoneHone1633£25£400wood and corrugated iron store. 1 long open slated cow-shed. sale ring. brick and slate office. brick paving ex-cept centre. fittings fair. con-dition: good but not substan-tial.
Freddy Preston outside his
Market Shop (D. Willavoys)
Freddy Preston outside his
Market Shop (D. Willavoys)Click Image
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By far the biggest and most valuable was the [2.] Station Street Market owned by the Moore family: the survey revealed the presence of the “brick built office and rostrum”.

One fascinating development, demonstrating the importance of the market to the area, was that of the Market Shops. The Town Council acted as developer by building in 1872 some neo-Gothic lock-up shops for small traders, such as tailor Freddy Preston, along the North side of Sun Street.

The Sun Street Market, however, was evidently ailing by the 20th century, since Peter Preston reported being told that “in World War I a threshing machine had been stored on waste land behind Car Mart and when moved it disturbed hordes of rats, which were despatched by worried neighbours with brooms and any suitable weapon”.[8] 

Market Shops with Happy Return
c1960 (Butwell)
Market Shops with Happy Return
c1960 (Butwell)Click Image
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In 1923, the Town Council proposed building “a public convenience (two W.C.s) for women, also a W.C. and lavatory for surveyor’s office[9] be erected on Mr. Hone's sheep market adjoining surveyor's office”. In 1924, the market had to be closed after a foot and mouth outbreak.[10]

It is not certain that the proposal succeeded since, in 1940, “Mr. F. H. Healing has offered at his expense to provide an air raid shelter in Barton Street. [But] it was suggested a shelter be built at Sheep Market, Station Street”.[11] This was built because the Town Council debated in 1946 that the “Station St ARP site considered for public conveniences of which a shortage in the town”.[12]

George Hone, had taken over Thomas’ Cattle Market in Oldbury Road by the time the 1883 O.S. Map had been published. By 1914 he had become Mayor, JP, County Councillor: a “well known and popular auctioneer”

Hone increased the stakes in 1927 by snapping up land vacated by the collapse of Thomas Walker and Sons in Spring Gardens where he built a modern, integrated cattle market, opened with great fanfare by the Conservative M.P., Sir Thomas Davies.

Sun Street north side c1960
The Conveniences have replaced the sheep pens —
note the rear of the Happy Return.
Sun Street south side c1960
Tewkesbury Car Mart had replaced sheep pens with
workshops. The Conveniences are opposite.
The Mayor, Cllr. George Hone J.P., C.C. in 1914
(Tewkesbury Register)
Hone’s Market, Oldbury Road, with the Welsh Houses.
John Rogers claims to have made the sign for Philip Thomas
(Angus Hone)
This ‘fat and store cattle market’ survived until 1967. It played an important part in the economy of Tewkesbury which, until well after World War II, was mainly that of a market town. Certain pubs like the Shakespeare and the Barrel, at 33 and 34 High Street respectively, were deemed to be a ‘middle class Market House’ which meant that it was within specified distance and thus allowed extended hours on the Wednesday live-stock market day. A ‘farmers ordinary’ was a three-course meal and one pub advertised “Beer sold by the Pound”.[13]

The 1927 Opening announced in the Press
(Tewkesbury Register)
Mrs. Hone, the M.P. & Mr. Hone + supporters.
(Who is the fascinating man to the right of Hone?)
(Angus Hone)
Invitation to the Opening Luncheon
(Angus Hone)
The Menu
(Angus Hone)

Both pubs closed by 1965[14] and the last of Tewkesbury’s livestock markets followed in 1967.

The Cascades Swimming pool, with money partly raised by the citizens of Tewkesbury, rose like the phoenix from the market’s ashes. The rest of the site was converted into Spring Gardens car park on which Tewkesbury’s twice weekly market is still held on Wednesdays and Saturdays - however, with no live meat for sale.

The new market (Tewkesbury Register) The Parade Ring with Chance St. School (Angus Hone)
Inside the Parade Ring with M.P. Davies (Angus Hone) Sheep and prospective buyers (Angus Hone)
The Market still going strong in 1955 (Tewkesbury Register) Just before demolition in 1967
(Gloucestershire Echo)
Hone’s Market transformed by 1973
Hone’s Market transformed by 1973Click Image
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Hone’s Market transformed by 1973 into Cascades & Spring Gardens Car Park

(with Moore’s Station Street Market transformed into Warner’s Garage (left)

(Tewkesbury Borough Council)

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When Hone moved to the Walker’s site, he closed the Oldbury Road sale yard and Sweets, sensitive to the development of private car transport, won the support of the Town Council to erect wooden garages on the site, which were available for rent.[15] During an interview in 2003, the late Dennis Vickeridge claimed that B. Sweet & Sons also had “a Chapel Of Rest in the yard in Oldbury Road, now a small housing estate known as Hone Court. Before the housing development the yard contained lock-up garages (I rented one). Sweets owned the yard and as far as I am aware never stored coffins there - only bodies in the Chapel of Rest!”[16]
Warner’s Garage with Market House before 1987
Warner’s Garage with Market House before 1987Click Image
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The Station Street market also suffered from Hone’s competition and, in 1949, the Council gave its “approval in principle to Warner’s erecting a garage on ‘Old Cattle Market’ site”.[17] The Garage was a significant - if ugly - landmark that survived the redevelopment of the upper High Street area in the 1960s and 1970s. It was only demolished in 1987 to be devoted to yet another car park.[18]

Warner’s Garage with Market House before 1987 (Library-Museum Archive)

Warner’s Garage with the Roses Theatre, Tescos but no Library.
The photograph was taken by Derek Round from a Crane
The Oldbury Car Park in 2008,
with the Market building in the background
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There is one interesting survivor which reminds of Tewkesbury’s importance as a live-stock market town. The office of Tewkesbury Cabs Taxi Company is the former “brick built office and rostrum” from which auctioneers and leading citizens, Thomas and Hone, plied their respectable and popular trade for so many years.

However, we must not despair of modern architects since two modern developments have incorporated the mark ‘Bell Tower’ motif in their design to remind us of the past: Bob Beswick’s Town Library and Hone Court, Oldbury Road.


  1. John Southgate: Tewkesbury News, 200.
  2. The Tewkesbury Weekly Record was a Liberal supporting newspaper which closed in 1921. It was the rival of the Tewkesbury Register [T.R.], the predecessor of the Gloucestershire Echo.
  3. J. Dixon and T. Clempson, Doddo Defiled (T.H.S. Publication no. 2, 2003) p6.
  4. John Rogers, A Short History of the Alleys (Collections, 2003) no. 11. Happily, it is once again available from the Town Museum.
  5. T.R. 11/07/1885 1/5.
  6. T.R. 14/11/1885 p1/2.
  7. IR58/33082 Particulars and Notes for survey made between 1909-13. See T.H.S. Woodard Database in the Library.
  8. Interview by the author with descendant, Mr. Peter Preston , on Wednesday, 10 September 2003.
  9. T.R., 24/03/1923 p3/1.
  10. C. Burd, Around Tewkesbury (Tempus 2001) p57: re-opening of cattle market after foot and mouth on 16 April 1924.
  11. T.R. 20/07/1940 p4/6.
  12. Minutes of the Town Council May 1946 (£1,100 estimate was accepted. Later, in Dec. the cost increased to £1,480; the shelter was to be demolished for £65)
  13. There is debate about whether this pertains to an animal pound. Reg Ross, with kind permission.
  14. B. Linnell: Tewkesbury Pubs 1996 Edition: p37. The Barrel Inn: record of 4 licensees in 1907; green and gold model cask removed in 1965, when it closed following closure of market. Licence was given to Canterbury; p71 Shakespeare's Inn (“or The '33’”) was a “middle class ‘market’ pub” until 1910 with longer opening hours; it closed in 1964 and was demolished in 1971 with the Barrel to make way for a supermarket [in 2008 Somerfields].
  15. T.R. 30/03/1929 2/2.
  16. Interviewed and transcribed by John Dixon and corrected by Dennis Vickeridge. Coffins would have been stored, and in earlier times, made in their workshop in Oldbury Road next to Halfords. The premises are still used for storage and as a workshop in connection with their building activities.
  17. Minutes Of The Town Council May: 1949 (a) GRO: TBR-A1/13 John Dixon (22/09/2006).
  18. Email from John Horsey, Parking Manager for Tewkesbury Borough Council.

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