Adam Hen­son

The mar­ket at Glouces­ter’s heart

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Idon’t talk about buses much in the pages of Cotswold Life. Apart from writ­ing about the oc­ca­sional Bus­man’s Hol­i­day when I sim­ply can’t re­sist vis­it­ing a rare breeds cen­tre or an agri­cul­tural show when I should be re­lax­ing on a beach with the fam­ily. But some re­cent news about pub­lic trans­port has caught my at­ten­tion.

If you’ve been in Glouces­ter dur­ing the past cou­ple of months you can’t fail to have seen the city’s im­pres­sive new bus sta­tion. The old drab and gloomy 1960s eye­sore on Bru­ton Way has gone, re­placed by a mod­ern airy glass-fronted land­mark with lights pow­ered by so­lar pan­els and dig­i­tal in­for­ma­tion boards. Now the buses al­most glide in to the shiny white bays at the front of the £7 mil­lion build­ing which even has a fu­tur­is­tic new name; The Glouces­ter Trans­port Hub. It’s the first project to be com­pleted in a long-awaited and much­needed plan to re­vi­talise the his­toric city cen­tre.

But if all that’s not im­pres­sive enough, the de­vel­op­ers have man­aged to res­cue and pre­serve one re­ally im­por­tant piece of the old bus sta­tion, and they’ve given it pride of place in the new one. It’s a com­mem­o­ra­tive plaque that was erected nearly 60 years ago to mark the site’s pre­vi­ous life as Glouces­ter’s main cat­tle mar­ket. Long be­fore live­stock sales moved to the edge of town and then more re­cently to Voyce Pullin’s Cirences­ter mar­ket, it was this spot in the very heart of Glouces­ter that buzzed with the ex­cite­ment of weekly auc­tions held in the open air. The for­mal word­ing on the big brass square can barely be­gin to cap­ture the at­mos­phere: The live­stock sec­tion of the an­cient city char­ter mar­ket (now es­tab­lished at St. Oswald’s Road) was by Act of Par­lia­ment of 1821 trans­ferred to this site.

For sixty years G.N. Bru­ton, J.P., a Sher­iff of this city, was as­so­ci­ated with the mar­ket and this sec­tion of the in­ner ring road is named in his me­mory. It’s hard to imag­ine now but th­ese were the days when drovers would herd cat­tle, sheep and pigs through the an­cient city streets as they brought the an­i­mals to mar­ket from their overnight pas­ture on the out­skirts of Glouces­ter, or away af­ter the sale to wait­ing rail­way wag­ons. It wasn’t un­usual for a stray sheep or a hope­ful pig to make a bid for free­dom, send­ing passers-by run­ning in all direc­tions as it ran bleat­ing or squeal­ing through the lanes be­ing chased by its an­gry owner.

For the last cou­ple of years the old plaque has been stored away for safe­keep­ing in the of­fice of the Coun­cil Leader, Cllr Paul James. Now he’s had the memo­rial cleaned up, re­paired and it’s been given a prom­i­nent po­si­tion in­side the en­trance to the new bus sta­tion. The lo­cal dig­ni­tary im­mor­talised in brass let­ters was the man ev­ery­one knew sim­ply as Nor­man Bru­ton. He was a lo­cal coun­cil­lor and a part­ner with one of the two firms of auc­tion­eers who ran the mar­ket and whose names are seared in to the col­lec­tive me­mory of farm­ing fam­i­lies all over Glouces­ter­shire; J. Pearce Pope & Sons and Bru­ton Knowles. Nor­man was a re­mark­able char­ac­ter. Dur­ing the Sec­ond World War, the first Ger­man bomb to be dropped on Glouces­ter was a di­rect hit on his home. By sheer fluke the det­o­na­tor jammed, stop­ping the bomb from ex­plod­ing when it em­bed­ded it­self in the ceil­ing just a few inches from where Nor­man was lay­ing sound asleep. But he wasn’t go­ing to let Hitler dis­rupt his plans for the day. So in the morn­ing, still wear­ing his py­ja­mas and dress­ing gown, he cy­cled to a menswear shop in West­gate Street and bought a new suit in time to con­duct the 11am pig auc­tion at the mar­ket. That’s the bull­dog spirit in ac­tion! I don’t know what the old boy would make of the city’s sparkling new Trans­port Hub, but I’m pretty sure he’d ap­prove of the way his mod­ern day coun­ter­parts are keep­ing his me­mory alive and I’m cer­tain he’d ap­plaud their per­ma­nent trib­ute to our farm­ing her­itage. N

The com­mem­o­ra­tive plaque in Glouces­ter Trans­port Hub

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