Opera North - The Little Greats

Why We Love Nottingham Cattle Market

13 June 17 words: Mike Scott

If you’re looking for something, you’ll definitely find it down the Cattle Market. Unless it's cows you're after...

The Saturday-morning Cattle Market is one of Nottingham’s quirky secrets, with an astonishing range of… well, pretty much everything. You could go for the cheap meat (not me, I’m a veggie) or for the even cheaper fruit and veg; especially if you get a box of whatever it is and share it out. Or you could be looking for tools, or hardware, or garden equipment, or a fleece.

But, if you’re like me, you’ll go mainly for the extensive junk section and root around happily among the piles of odds and sods, trying to find some fantastic bargain lying in wait for the buyer with more sense than money.

As with all junk markets, there are lots of things you can’t imagine anyone buying once, never mind twice: The Greatest Hits of Charles Aznavour springs to mind… 

The best items are the things you didn’t know you wanted, nestling in that box next to a pile of CDs by people you’ve never heard of. A quick look and a bit of a haggle – very much part of the experience – and you can bring it home to impress your mates (or your mum) with your perspicacity.

Or perhaps not, in which case here are some useful phrases to memorise:

“It’s bound to come in handy”

“You know I’ve always wanted one of those”

“Don’t worry, I’ll keep it under the bed”

And, of course, there’s “It’ll be worth a fortune in a few years time!”

One fascinating feature of the junk market is how there are phases when certain things seem to be everywhere for a few weeks and then disappear completely. Diligent research reveals that these may include:

  •         astronomical telescopes (following a popular programme on TV?)
  •         boxes of vinyl and pre-vinyl (remember: scratches equal character)
  •         terrible paintings and prints (useful if you go for post-modern ironic)
  •         piles of laptops (I wouldn’t if I were you)
  •         crutches and wheelchairs (you never know….)
  •         adult and kids’ bikes (a bit of TLC usually required)
  •         sports and gym equipment (so much for that New Year resolution)
  •         stereo systems (one of my favourites)

The trick with stereo equipment is not to worry how old it is and only go for expensive brands. Most good stuff has only been ditched because someone’s gone for an updated version, not because there’s anything wrong with it; I got a perfect Pioneer system and added some quality speakers later on for a total of ten quid! If something looks okay and is really cheap, it’s worth the risk of it not working.

I can’t finish without mentioning the auctions; of which there are five in the Cattle Market, with different things in each. You can go and look round on Friday afternoons or Saturday mornings before they start.

A lot of the stuff is specialist and can be quite expensive, but there are bargains to be had if you want something that isn’t too popular with the dealers; even if you don’t want to buy anything, it’s an interesting hour or two. You just need to remember that you’ll have to pay an extra percentage to the auctioneers on top of the successful bid.

So, a veritable wonderland between Sneinton and Nottingham Train Station. And there’s the much bigger Racecourse Car Boot every Sunday morning, if you really get a taste for it..

Nottingham Cattle Market takes place every Saturday morning on Cattle Market Road

Arthur Johnson Auctioneers website

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