THE gavel has fallen for the last time at Hatherleigh as the final livestock auction was held in the market last Thursday — though the cherished Tuesday market looks set to continue.

Vicks the auctioneers has hung up its gavel and is selling the site to property developer Kingswood Homes. The last auction held by Vicks was a machinery sale on February 24, with the final sheep sale on Monday, February 19, and cattle sale on Thursday, February 22. The final cattle of the auction belonged to John Varney of Shebbear.

The closure sees decades of farming tradition come to an end. Hatherleigh resident Gordon Reynolds has been attending the auctions for over 40 years, having worked in the farming industry for a large portion of that time.

He said: ‘It is very sad, it has come as a bit of a shock to see it go. The mood of the auction last week was very subdued. It normally was very alive and lively. You would have a laugh there.

‘I think it will be a very big blow to farmers around here. Things will never be the same, it is a sad job, sad for all of us to see it go. It’s a real shame.’

While the final animal auctions have taken place, work has been going on behind the scenes to ensure that the popular Tuesday market continues.

The market draws hundreds of people from miles around each week and will be run by not-for-profit company the Ruby Country Partnership. Negotiations have been held to secure an indoor space on the site so the market can continue even when building work starts.

Charles Dumpleton, director of the Ruby Country Partnership, explained: ‘At this time the Tuesday pannier market is still controlled by Greg Vick as he still owns the site and the market is on this Tuesday.

‘The developers have met with Hatherleigh Town Council, traders and Ruby Country and have agreed to allow the use of the sheep market and outside space for things to continue running as long as all the bills are paid.

‘This means that when they take over, Ruby Country as the lead organisation will run the market and seed fund the finances, allowing the market, fur and feather and other events to continue until the new market site is created.’

Lancashire-based Kingswood Homes is expected to apply to West Devon Borough Council in the near future for planning permission to build 120 homes, a neighbourhood supermarket, light industrial units and a car park on the site. An earlier outline planning permission for 105 homes and the other facilities, granted by the borough council, has lapsed.

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