For centuries markets have been at the centre of rural town and village life and Hatherleigh market must rank as the most well-known in the county.
Situated just on the edge of the town, and replacing the old market which used to operate within the confines of the town square, it was built by the Vick family in the 1930s. Very much a family operation, Sally Vick, who now runs a gallery in the town, has strong memories from the past of helping run the market café with her mother.
“People still come in from all around on market day,” she says, “And the café is still very popular. It’s never advertised and it’s never needed to, there would always be queues of people throughout the day going out the door.”
People from the surrounding villages, and further afield, would flock into town for the weekly market and to catch up on the week’s news.
The image by Ravilious would be very similar to one taken today, although Sally points out that changes to legislation following the foot and mouth outbreak means that you will no longer see different animals together at the same market. And strict hygiene regulations means the public are allowed free access only to the Tuesday market, the ‘Fur and Feathers’ day, when auctions of poultry, waterfowl and small mammals take place
There are more markets now, she says, with different ones on different days, but it does mean there is room for more stalls.
At the time this photograph was taken there would be a Fatstock and Storestock market, categorising animals which are ready for slaughter, or to be sold on for fattening.
The identity of the boy in the photograph remains a mystery, although, says Sally, “Judging by the state of his wellies, He’s undoubtedly a farmer’s boy.”
There’s one puzzle that has so far foxed everyone, and that is the sign attached to the holding pen. The only legible words seem to be “incident”, leaving an intriguing mystery at the heart of the image.