A royal visitor swept into Melton this afternoon (Wednesday) to officially open the town’s livestock market’s new state-of-the-art multi-million pound cattle sheds and auction rings.
Princess Anne arrived at the Scalford Road site shortly after 2pm wearing a lime green coat and was greeted by dignataries including the Mayor, Councillor Tejpal Bains.
The Princess Royal spent around an hour this afternoon touring the new building and meeting staff, farmers and local businesses who are making good use of the facility, which opened for business last May.
The tour was led by Hugh Brown, CEO of market operator Gillstream Markets. and leader of Melton Council, Councillor Joe Orson.
The princess unveiled a plaque to commemorate the opening and praised the design of the building, which marks the first phase of redevelopment at the market.
She told those present, shortly before the unveiling: “What a relief that you were able to redevelop the market on its original site.”
During her tour of the new buildings, Princess Anne was introduced to head cattle drover Adam Nadolski, who last year married fiancee Abi in the cattle sheds, the first couple ever to do so.
When told about the unusual wedding venue, the princess raised her eyebrows and said: “What, in here?, before adding: “I hope it was slightly warmer.”
She seemed genuinely interested in the workings of the market as she met several employees during her tour, sharing the occasional joke with people.
Councillor Orson said: “This visit from Her Royal Highness celebrates the collaborative work between the council and the market operator, Gillstream Markets, in successfully bringing this expansion to the town’s landmark facility.
“As other markets are closing – we are growing.
“This new building is a significant step in securing our economic future and reputation as the rural capital of food.”
Mr Brown, whose company manages the market, said: “The Princess Royal’s visit to the market and opening of the new cattle building represents the culmination of a huge amount of work between the company, the council, the building team and the many other stakeholders.
“The benefits it will bring to the borough, the market and its farming customers, along with the wider communities we serve, will be seen for many years to come.”
After unveiling the plaque, the Princess Royal was presented with a hamper which included Melton pork pies and hunt cake, by regional young farmer of the year, Lucy Towle.
It was donated by Dickinson and Morris with contributions from Belvoir Fruit Farms, The Melton Cheeseboard and Grasmere Farm.
Also attending the opening ceremony were representatives from the farming community, local businesses and members of the project team.
The development of the market has followed a £5.5m investment by the council in the new cattle building which included a contribution of £3.5m from the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) through the Local Growth Fund.
Melton market, which serves 2,500 farming customers and has 350,000 visitors annually, is the largest town centre livestock market in the country and has been in existence for 1,000 years, predating the Domesday Book.
The main market has been held on a Tuesday since at least 1324 when it was granted a charter by King Edward II.
As well as its normal weekly activities, the market also hosts many other sales and festivals, including the only national Native and Traditional Breeds Show and Sale in September.
The market also plays host to various food events through the year, including the East Midlands Food Festival, Piefest and the Artisan Cheese Fair.