Explore... The Way We Were

The Cattle Market in Bury St Edmunds

When I was a child (and I was once lol), the Cattle Market was a Wednesday visit every week, the smells, the noise, masses of people mingling, buying and selling pig, cows, chickens, rabbits, you name it they sold it.

Many a time a cow or pig would escape, a very large pig escaped and ran all the way down Kings Road and into town. I guess it was caught successfully, but caused a stir.

There was a bike sale area, birds, guinea pigs, rabbits, I got very upset because I wasn’t allowed a canary!!!

You always bumped into someone you knew, and for us kiddies it was boring – we wanted to see animals, not stand talking.

There was tea or coffee at the little wooden hut. We used to love watching the lorries being unloaded, it was a great farming event for the town and its a shame it’s gone…

Jane Millar


No child who went to the Cattle Market will ever forget the experience.

The animals, sounds, smells, bustle, the sheer magic of the place.

All the chickens, geese, ducks stacked up in cages, sheep to pat if you felt brave enough.

Country folk catching up with gossip with their friends who they hadn’t seen since last Wednesday.

The cattle were in a separate part, near to where The Market Tavern was. Phew!

Go in there for a darts match on a Wednesday. (As I did many years later)

As a child, I steered clear of that area. Cattle frightened the life out of me, they were sooo big, and moved sooo quickly and besides I was only a wuss of a girl.

We moved from Chalk Road in 1949 but for literally years I had a recurring dream of meeting an escaped bull in “the walks” (where we walked along to get uptown, Prospect Row on one side, the wall of Bury Town football ground on the other),  but even so I wouldn’t trade my memories of the Cattle Market for anything -)

Gwen Fuller


A game called kiss chase comes to mind where the pigs were sold. Brian, Kenny, Peter to name a few such a laugh.

Going to watch the band Smoke do their marathon in a hall that was on there. Taking the children to see the livestock and watching the auction in one of the sheds.

So many good memories it’s such a shame it’s gone but we must go with the times.

Linda Opheim


Loved the Cattle Market, can’t remember who took me. Dad would have been at work on a Wednesday, must have been mum or big brothers, when a bit older went with friends.

Pigs were my favourite, but I didn’t like them squealing, I thought they were being hurt.

I can remember the noises and smells as if it was yesterday. By the way, when did it cease being a working Cattle Market.

My memories are from the 50s and 60s. The worst part of the Cattle Market was that flipping swimming pool. Bad memories of that place.

Carole Marlow


The Cattle Market did not interest me or my children very much. Although I did wander through a few times.

I always felt sorry for the animals being herded onto trucks by men waving sticks, although I did like the goats and rabbits I was never tempted to buy one.

When I worked in Keymarkets across the road, a massive pig had escaped and came charging through the shop everyone was screaming and running to get away it was like something in a comedy/horror film. I much prefer the arc nowadays clean and modern with things to actually buy.

Anna Frankum

Did anyone ever have an ice cream from Mr Bunshi who had a van near the Cattle Market? It was the best ice cream ever and he used to put it in the cone with a wooden spoon.

Paul Taylor

Just out of interest and we all did it back then. Where did everyone use to go when they bunked off school?

I used to hide down the Abbey Grounds or round the Cattle Market. Used to get of the bus and across from the station was a tobacco shop what I think is a butcher in the Butter Market.

We used to put our dinner money together and get these multi-coloured cocktail cigarette OMG.

Had some good times but wasted my school years on mucking around. Never learnt a thing really.

Wendy Ann Kingham


Does anyone remember the open-air swimming pool near to the Cattle Market?

I remember the summer holidays – you paid for the day I recall – and those diving boards – health and safety would have a field day!

And the open-air pool at St James’ Middle School? Bloody hell it was cold when you were first allowed in – dodging the duck poo!!!

Janet Marie Thomas


We used to live in Chalk Road quite near the Cattle Market. Cut through the walks and you were there, but my sister and I took our life in our hands when we chose to come home by way of Risbygate Street on Market day.

Many’s the time when we’d be walking along like good little girls when these huge bulls came charging down the road ready to trample us.

Of course, they could have been cows but the story is better when you say Bulls.and you better hope the shop was open that you chose to run into, away from the stampede. OK, I’m exaggerating, but when you’re just a kid it was pretty scary.

Janet Lester


Am I right ….? Before the Cattle Market closed there was a strange pen building towards the rear of the site that sold second-hand bicycles, bric-a-brac plus chickens rabbits and a whole range of stuff.

I hated the Cattle Market due to the pigpen noise – the salesmen and transporters used to hit them hard with sticks and the chicken and rabbit hutches were tiny .. I wanted to let them all out!

Stephen Moody