Yate Heritage Centre: remembering market day in Yate

IT is nearly 50 years since Yate Market finally closed its doors.

Between the 1860s and 1975, the market was a fixture in the economic and social life of the parish and later, town.

Up to the 1950s, farmers and general visitors could witness a livestock market each week, with Yate and Sodbury markets alternating. 

The fortnightly Yate market was a great social event for local families and farmers. Children encountered farm animals close at hand. Farmers could meet and do business at the Railway Hotel.

Yate market began in or around 1862. The 1860s were near the end of a mini-golden age for farming. Yate parish alone had over 20 dairy farms. Agricultural labouring was a major employer. The farming boom encouraged the creation of a market at Yate for the first time since the late Medieval era.

Yate became a significant local market, receiving livestock from a five-mile radius. It began with only outdoor pens near to the railway station on Station Road. Despite agricultural recessions from the 1870s onwards, the market expanded, gaining its own buildings for livestock and produce sales.  

Yate was at least on a par with the ancient Sodbury market. It had its own buildings, whereas Sodbury needed to set up animal pens on the High Street every market day.

Indeed, Yate Market survived Sodbury by 21 years, continuing until 1975. Sodbury was always dogged by hygiene issues from animals in the street, and shut in 1954.

Dairy farming went into decline from the 1870s and Yate market was always small. It could never compete with the likes of Gloucester or Chippenham.

Paul Young, son of auctioneer George, regularly attended the market as a boy.

His abiding memories were ramshackle buildings, cold, concrete floors and little investment.

By the 1960s and 1970s it was decidedly on the slide.

Farmers could get better prices at other markets. Increasingly, they dealt directly with abattoirs in Bristol instead of going through Yate Market officials. 

Since the market ended in 1975, wholesale changes around the site on Station Road have eradicated any sign of it.

Nevertheless, the history of the market is the story of Yate: an area which went from being largely agricultural and rural in 1862 to the urban and industrial settlement it had become by 1975.  

More on Yate Market can be seen in our Get Orf My Land exhibition, which is on display until February 22.

Yate Heritage Centre is part of Yate Town Council.

David Hardill

Picture: Best in Show, 1935, courtesy of P Young