Norwich Livestock Market to feature on BBC’s Great Railway Journeys

Michael Portillo, right, with Norwich Livestock Market operations director, David Ball, during filmi

Michael Portillo, right, with Norwich Livestock Market operations director, David Ball, during filming for a TV series. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Archant 2013

Norwich Livestock Market features in the latest programme in the Great British Railway Journeys series to be broadcast later this month.

Presenter and former cabinet minister Michael Portillo, who has now made more than 115 programmes for the series, visited the livestock market in August last year.

His guide was David Ball, who is Norwich Livestock Market operations director and one of the founders of the revived company after it closed at the start of the foot-and-mouth epidemic in 2001. It re-opened the following year as an independent and farmer-owned company.

Mr Portillo also bought a calf from one of the regular market customers and also did some droving in the ring and the programme will be shown on BBC on Monday, January 27 and 6.30pm.

Mr Ball, who was taken to hospital shortly before Christmas and is now making a gradual recovery, even managed to organise last Saturday's highly successful special sale of breeding cattle.

Mr Portillo had decided to return to the city to follow up the mention of the former cattle market on The Hill in the heart of Norwich in his 1864 copy of Bradshaw's railway guide. 'In 1864 it was described as one of the largest outside London, not surprising because there was no bigger agricultural area than Norfolk in those days,' he said.

The weekly Saturday Norwich livestock market, which was held in the area in front of the Castle, was once the country's largest centre for selling stock. Although plans to move the market to a more convenient location were first proposed in the 1930s, it was not until 1960 that it finally moved to Harford Bridge. Ironically, one of the reasons for that location was the proximity to the railway and a special connection was also part of the original planning.

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During his visit, Mr Portillo used his copy of Bradshaw to bid.

Mr Ball said that he bid for Roger Long, from Scarning, who paid £345 for a British Blue calf from Tom Crawford, of Topcroft, near Bungay.

The directors of Norwich Market are also holding a charity dinner dance at the Barnham Broom Hotel on Saturday, 8 February in aid of the East Anglian Air Ambulance and the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution. Tickets cost £39.50 and can be obtained via the market's website -