I’ve had an interesting couple of weeks, including spending some happy hours looking through archive documents of the Hereford Cattle Society at their offices in Offa Street in Hereford. The Society’s Breed Secretary, David Prothero, kindly brought out all their journals and other books and was extremely helpful in finding information for me.
I had gone with a three-part mission:
1. to attempt to verify whether The Queen had come to Hereford Livestock Market in 1953, 1954 or 1957: different interviewees’ recollections having pointed to different dates;
2. to find anything to illustrate the international importance of Hereford Market;
3. to discover more about the successes of a local breeder of Hereford Cattle, John Vaughan, who had a run of prize-winners at the Livestock Market in the 1980s;
Whatever I could find out on these points might enrich the film visually by illustrating the reminiscences of our contributors.
I started with visits by The Queen and quickly discovered that she came to the Market in 1957. Contrary to popular belief, this was just ‘a visit’ as opposed to an official opening of the Market, even though the Market had undergone substantial rebuilding and alterations the year before in 1956.
However, more than one person has mentioned a royal visit in 1953 or ’54 and, although I’ve not yet pinned this down through the archives of the Hereford Cattle Society, I hope to be able to elsewhere.
Idling through the pages of the quarterly journals, bound into hard-back volumes, I came across plenty of evidence of the international significance of the Hereford breed, with advertisements of herds, sales and conferences in Uruguay, Sweden, Argentina, Canada, Ireland, South Africa and America. I took notes and lots of photos on my phone to help my memory once back at my own desk again.
I enjoyed tracking down references to our interviewee, John Vaughan. Sometimes it is pure serendipity when you find a mention of something or someone, as was the case with the base of ‘Leonardo Pereyra Challenge Cup for the Best Bull Exhibited at the February Show and Sale of the Hereford Herd Book Society*’ covered in gleaming silver name-plaques that twinkled at me from another corner of the room. This trophy-base was not among the items brought out for me from the archives, and I might not have noticed it if there hadn’t a dip in signal on my phone, and if I hadn’t been wandering around the large board room trying to retrieve it! Having spotted the existence of name plaques, I wondered whether there mightn’t be one for John Vaughan and his father, Donald, and, lo! there it was: ‘1982 DTC Vaughan & Son’!
There were also numerous advertisements extolling the attributes of members of the Vaughan – styled ‘Vorn’ – herds, and fascinating snippets and articles, including an unexpected one about postage stamps!
I was distracted by a photo that wasn’t the typical man-stands-solemnly-beside-prize-winning-bull; this one showed three men, two of whom, in suits and ties, were in gales of laughter at a Hereford bull which was licking a sheet of postage stamps. Calmly holding the bull was an amused-looking man in a fedora. Now John Vaughan whom I was researching is known for wearing a splendid hat, so I checked the caption:
‘Lionheart gives his seal of approval by licking a sheet of the new stamps launched at the Hereford Herd Book Society offices. Left to right: Head Postmaster, Haydn Cootes, Cledwyn Davies, regional marketing manager for the Post Office, and John Vaughan, joint owner of the bull’.
Lionheart was one of Mr Vaughan’s prize-winners in the 1908s. Another piece of serendipity! Lionheart, the article explains,
‘was guest of honour at…a reception to launch a special issue of postage stamps featuring British breeds of cattle… Lionheart politely licked a sheet of postage stamps… before entering the headquarters boardroom to pose for photographers with the Mayor of Hereford, Mr Sim Proctor…’
*The Hereford Cattle Society was known as the Hereford Herd Book Society until its 150th Anniversary in 1996, when it changed its name to the present one.