NORTH WEST Auction’s new Junction 36 Rural Auction Centre has opened for business after a series of delays – a move which also saw the final sale after more than 135 years on the old Kendal auction site.
Adam Day, NWA managing director, said: “As with any major project of this type, there needs to be a few weeks bedding in process before holding an official opening.
“It is not just a case of NWA settling in, but also of the various businesses and services which will make this a true rural business centre.”
The former Kendal Auction Mart name has gone and the new centre christened Junction 36 Rural Auction Centre to reflect its position just off the M6 at Crooklands.
The complex is also at a point where many major roads serving Cumbria, North Lancashire and North Yorkshire meet.
The NWA-owned site covers 26 acres of which half is taken up by the auction centre.
It also brings together the full range of NWA businesses – livestock sales, land agency and professional services, plus the group’s fine arts and furniture sales.
It can also host a range of rural and non-rural events and includes high-quality, modern restaurant and cafe facilities.
Its construction faced a series of delays, due largely to the extremely wet site conditions over the past year.
Before going ahead with the project, Mr Day and colleagues visited a number of modern market and rural business complexes, including Cockermouth, where he was formerly market manager.
Key areas included optimising livestock flow through the market for both vendors and buyers and flexible facilities for a range of purposes.
The new mart is part of a back-to-back agreement under which its commissioning saw the handing over of the old site to the developer for residential development.
Mr Day said: “We believe “ It has a loyal following which we believe will transfer to the new site Adam Day that livestock auction sales have been held on the Appleby Road, Kendal, site since 1878. Like many markets of that era, it would have been built, like the new mart, on a greenfield site with easy access to the railway.
“Over the decades, the surrounding area was swallowed up by urban development. In addition, livestock transport has changed and meant 45-ton lorries having to negotiate Kendal town centre.
“Meanwhile, it was becoming more and more difficult for the old premises to keep up with the increasing stringent regulations covering livestock markets. In fact, it was clear that it could only have continued for another year or so.
“It served farmers in south Cumbria and the Lakes extremely well and has a loyal following which we believe will transfer to the new site.
“Because of the area it serves, throughput in recent years has been mainly beef cattle and sheep, but also has a strong pig sale.”
Mr Day sees the new complex as complementing Lancaster Market rather than replacing it.
NWA directors and staff are very much committed to the future of Lancaster.
Although the two markets are only 15 miles apart, they serve very different farming communities.
Junction 36 serves the largely upland beef and sheep farming community of south Cumbria and the Lake District to the Western Pennines, while Lancaster is linked to the lowlands of Lancashire and adjoining counties where dairying is strong.
Mr Day said: “Commercially, Lancaster is extremely successful and represents two-thirds of NWA business, so it makes solid business sense for us to retain and develop Lancaster as a livestock centre.”
While dairying is a major part of the Lancaster business, it also has a loyal following for its beef cattle and sheep sales.