DIRECTOR Bruce Walton described the opening of Hopes Auction Company’s new multi-million pound mart complex at Wigton as a “new era” for the business.

The edge-of-town development opened on March 5 and had been in the pipeline for well over five years for the company, which dates back to 1840.

The inaugural sales of prime sheep and cattle combined shows which attracted a great show of livestock and large crowds of people.

“It’s good to see the new mart so full of stock and I have seen people here who have not attended sales at Wigton for years,” said Mr Walton, who was joined in the auctioneering team by David Bowman six years ago.

“It’s been a great team effort by everyone and it’s been a long haul. The groundwork was started two years ago and building work by Story Construction began last April.”

Prior to selling shares in the main ring, Mr Walton welcomed everyone to the new mart and said a new era had dawned. He praised the commitment of buyers, sellers, the Story Group and Clydesdale Bank.

Reflecting the commitment to the business, the auction of 641 shares averaged £17.30, an increase of £6.30 a share on the previous sale.

It was the sale of sheep which started the trading in the new premises which has 5,000sq m of livestock sales area along with office space and booths for agribusinesses.

The first sheep into the ring was a Texel hogg from Jane Jackson’s Snowhill Partners of Ericstane, Moffat, which made £144.

Judge Jimmy Mullholland, a local butcher in Great Orton, chose a pair of Beltex from S & D Peile, Parkgate Hall, as champions and these sold to the judge for £240 per head and 571.4p per kg.

The first bull into the ring was a Charolais from Tom Byers, of Ellen Bank, Boltongate, and it made 220.5p per kg.

Overall heifers averaged 234p and steers 230p. The top price of 276.5p per kg was paid for a Limousin heifer shown by RE Miller, of West Farm, Aspatria, purchased by Jimmy Mullholland.

Director Stuart Robertson, who has had a 53-year association with the company, including as managing director until his retirement in 1998, recalled the prices when the mart moved from Church Street to Wigton High Street in 1960.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Bruce Walton sells shares
Bruce Walton sells shares

He said: “The first bullock into the ring made £6 17s 4d per hundredweight and it weighed 10 cwt – almost £69.

In the last sale at the High Street mart, an equivalent weight bullock made £1,700.”

The mart team aims to build on its sales fixtures at the new premises where an official opening is planned for later in the spring.