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Auctioneer - farm sales

Click here to read about Mr Tony Thomas and his father W.E. Thomas, and their days as auctioneers in Pembroke Cattle Mart.

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Cattle Mart Auctioneer - Orchard Buildings

Mr Tony Thomas recalls his father W.E. Thomas – Auctioneer and Estate Agent

Mr Thomas, known as Tony, attended Pembroke’s East End School. He left when he was 16, and joined the family firm as an auctioneer and farmer. Tony’s father Captain W.E. Thomas had begun the Cattle Mart business by the rail station in the early 1920s – it was roughly opposite the Council’s mart in Orchard Buildings.

Captain Thomas came to Pembroke after the Great War. At the outbreak of the Second World War meat was rationed, and livestock was sold at a fixed price on weight alone, with prices varying every week. The Ministry of Food decided that there would be only one centre in the Pembroke area for livestock, and that it would be sited at the Council’s Orchard Buildings Mart where weighing scales could be used for the live animals. W.E. Thomas was the business appointed by the Ministry of Food to run the Mart at Orchard Buildings. The steer, for example, would go on the scales and were then graded, a process which was was extremely complicated and comprehensive - from super special, super plus, grades 1,2,3, all plus or minus. Two graders - a local butcher and a local farmer - decided on the gradings. If there was a difference of opinion Captain Thomas would have the deciding vote.

The farmers would notify W.E. Thomas of the livestock they would be bringing to the mart each week, and W.E. Thomas notified the Town Council. Everything was done by telegram in those days, and all the information was then telegraphed to Cardiff. The Cardiff office then instructed the Mart where to send the livestock; some went by rail to places like Swansea, Carmarthen or Cardiff.

Getting the livestock to the Mart was sometimes challenging. If the farmers lived near town - such as at Orange Hall or Priory Farm - the stock were usually driven through the streets of Pembroke. Petrol was rationed at this time; or there was none. The farms out of town were granted petrol coupons and could drive the livestock by lorry.

After the Second World War things reverted to the auction system again without government control.