The history of Hatherleigh Market

Ross Bryant
Ross Bryant

As the potential development of the historic Hatherleigh Market is considered by planners, we take a look at this famous cattle market and its founder, Joe Vick.

Dennis Bater, chairman for the Hatherleigh History Society, talks about Joe’s history. “Joe Vick (pictured)came to Hatherleigh in 1937. He was the founder of Vicks auctioneers who ceased trading at the market in February this year. There were no buildings, just a few pens on the present site, years before the market had been held in the village square and Hole Court.”

At the beginning of the Second World War Joe went off to work for the War Ministry negotiating the buying of land for airfields as part of the war effort including Davidstow, Winkleigh and Bolt Head in South Devon. Joe narrowly escaped death during the war. Dennis says “he stopped off for a drink before returning to his London office only to find it had been bombed just an hour before, killing most of the employees.”

After the war Joe returned to Hatherleigh. He took the market on himself and started building on the site. “In 1937 the turn over was £15,000 for the year, by 1965 it was £2.5 million.” At its peak the market was running three days a week. Foot and Mouth outbreaks hit the market hard, says Dennis.

“In 1966/7 Foot and mouth broke out in Winkleigh and the market was shut for a month, the market never recovered from this as it was before.”

“Joe did not envisage Hatherleigh ever closing, as it was so big at the time, probably the biggest in Devon.”

A local campaign by the Ruby Country group has been launched to purchase the land from perspective developer Kingswood Homes. The group hope to run the market for the community if they succeed.

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