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The Warp

Leo and Animals

Leominster was full of animals in those days. Alex Haynes reminds me how, often, a thousand head of cattle would be sold in one day in the cattle market where there is now a supermarket car park on Dishley Street.

After they had been sold, cattle would be driven by drovers in batches of fifty or sixty down Etnam Street to the railway station, whence they would travel by train.

Disaster would befall anyone who left their doors open along the route, they might well find a heifer or cow stuck in their front passage.

An inhabitant of Dishley Street had a pump from which she pumped water into two buckets in which she washed the entrails of pigs she’d bought at the butchers, then known as ‘chicklings’, which she sold at a penny a pound.

Another Dishley Street resident made Brandy Balls, Brandy Snaps and home-made Pop.

In many back gardens there was a pig sty containing a pig fattening or a sow for breeding.

Ducks, kept by another resident, walked across the road each morning to go and browse at the Institute and Circle Club, roughly where the Royal British Legion is today. Every day, one or two were disappearing.

So their owner arranged for his son Billy to hide himself nearby and keep watch. Soon the ducks came out and began their journey in single file across the road.

Suddenly, from one of the small cottages along the ducks’ route was thrown a piece of bread and the ducks rushed to get it. Another piece was thrown closer to the cottage, followed by other pieces, ending up with one inside a door that suddenly swung open. A duck went in after it, and the door slammed shut.

Billy, very nervously, went to knock on the door of the cottage. A few seconds passed. The door opened. Billy said, ‘Please sir, have you seen a duck by any chance?’

‘Yes, we have. You know, Billy, it’s a funny thing, your ducks are always coming into our house if I leave the door open, even for a moment. I was just bringing this one out for you.’

What he didn’t notice was that in the other hand he was holding a large kitchen knife.

Ducks were not the only disappearing animals. Often piglets also disappeared on their way from the market to the train. As they were driven the piglets and their Mums and Dads would often occupy the whole width of the street.

As they crushed heavily against the walls, suddenly a door would open just for a moment and a piglet would be accidentally squashed into the house. Several families would be sharing a gorgeous dinner that night.

Tables and chairs were often brought out into the street at that time. Someone would bring out a wind-up gramophone. There would be waltzes, foxtrots and the military two-step.


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