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19th March 2019 -  The Life of an Auctioneer

Due to the advertised speaker being unavailable, the club enjoyed an entertaining talk by Stuart Alister, one of its members, about his experiences as a livestock auctioneer.  brought up on a farm in Lauderdale, Stuart often attended lamb sales at St Boswells.  his father was a fish auctioneer and Stuart remembers having to turn up at Newhaven fish market at 6:30 am.  He discovered that trawlermen are very superstitious and will not tolerate anything to do with rabbits or salmon on their boat.  If they meet a priest or minister, that person has to speak frst, otherwise they will not set sail for 24 hours.

He originally thought of becoming a vet or a farmer, but he soon felt the call of the auctioneer's gavel.  In 1950 he joined a firm of auctioneers.  The days were long and arduous, starting at 6:30am sorting sheep, cattle and pigs during the day and finishing farm implements etc.  Stuart studied book keeping at night school and was called up for national service into the Royal navy.  After National Service Stuart qualified for the Royal College of Auctioneers and became a junior auctioneer with John Swan and Sons at the markets at St Boswells and Gorgie.  He became involved in procurement and purchasing and his job entailed travelling round the country visiting farmers, canvassing for business, estimating prices etc.

Stuart entertained the meeting with amusing anecdotes about the jobs he did and the people he met  Deciding to try something different, he became part owner of a garage in Lauder. He also be came involved in the laying of a gas pipeline across Scotland, dealing with wayleaves, disturbance claims, fences, drainage, valuations, etc.

After 20 years at Swans he retired in 1973 and concentrated on his garage, including a spell auctioning cars at Berwick upon Tweed.  Stuart concluded by remarking on the effect of the modern road network has had on the transport of livestock, leading to the closure of many local markets and the expansion of big centres like Stirling. He suggested that Lanark market is well placed to deal with the smaller farms to be found in this area.

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