Thirsk Farmers Auction Mart (TFAM) confirmed this week it is to undergo a £500,000 expansion to cope with a 50% increase in trade over the last three years.

Pictured: The auction ring under construction in 2006.
The latest phase in the development of the historic North Yorkshire mart, which moved from its town-centre site to Thirsk Rural Business Centre, near Sowerby, in 2006, is being backed by regional development agency Yorkshire Forward, which is contributing £102,000.

Colin Barker, auction administration manager at TFAM, said the mart’s relocation had been instrumental in attracting farmers from all over County Durham and North and West Yorkshire, to trade in cows, sheep and pigs.

“The old town-centre site had had its day,” he said. “But since we moved to the outskirts of Thirsk the level of business has climbed to at least 50% up on where we were.

“It’s just fantastic. Our location close to the A19 is now a major asset in that when a wagon arrives or leaves here it doesn’t have to go through the middle of town.

“With the increasing level of business we are moving from being simply a local livestock mart to a regional one as well as diversifying into non-agricultural activities like furniture, fur and feather, and vintage, collectables and garden sales.

“The whole thing is at capacity and totally non-stop at the moment – so we need to expand to facilitate future growth.”

Mr Barker said he hoped that work at the site – which also houses several other related businesses including Askham Bryan College and Joplings estate agents and surveyors – would be completed by Christmas.

Howard Keal, the Lib-Dem Parliamentary candidate for the Thirsk and Malton seat, paid tribute to the mart.

“Its success attracting increases in the sale of cattle, sheep and pigs and bringing in farmers from all over the north provides a model example of how a mart can make the most of a new location – not just for farmers but for the wider community too.”

Vale of York MP Anne McIntosh added: “I’m absolutely delighted for the mart. It is a real vote of confidence in both them and the Thirsk area too. They are bucking the trend in a period of serious economic downturn.”