The Charlgrove Cattle Sale has a long and interesting history beginning in the 1940’s after the 2nd World War.
In those days the major selling venue was Grahamstown Market Square where the Police Station is situated today. Cattle were driven on the hoof from the coast to Grahamstown – a two day drive; this scenario led to five local farmers, namely Vernon Ford of Glendower, Freddie Ford of Kasouga, Gordon (Nipper) Stirk of Woodlands, Neville Stirk of Goodwoods and Neil McDougall of Grants Valley starting a private Fat Stock Sale in the dipping tank kraals at Charlgrove. The sale was conducted by Mr Wentworth of H O Dold & Co Auctioneers of Grahamstown. When this sale proved to be successful, more sellers were invited namely Noel Keeton of Hopefield, Keeton Bros of Hopefarm, Betty Norton of Barville Park and Douglas Galpin (snr) of Moneysworth.
At that time the sale was an Annual Fat Stock Sale, fat old trek oxen and ‘Baby Beefers’ which could be from 2 tooth to full mouth but never inspanned! The quality of stock was very good, and the big oxen were huge, and became a talking point in the surrounding areas. With the increase in numbers the dipping tank kraals became too small, and new pens were built halfway between the dipping tank and the present sale pens. Unfortunately this site was very flat, and became a mud bath in wet weather.
By 1974 more sales were being developed in the district and Charlgrove numbers had diminished considerably and the auctioneers, Cape Eastern Meat Co-op, who had bought out H O Dold & Co were considering closing the sale down, as only 130 head were entered at that date. Concerned members of the Bathurst West Farmers Association appointed a committee to meet Cape Eastern Meat and it was agreed that the Bathurst West Farmers Association would become involved in canvassing entries and running the sale.
This was one of the defining decisions taken by BWFA as the sale was then a Public Sale, and by 1979 about 700 cattle were sold. However, change had to come about as the sale pens were in a bad state and cattle numbers were increasing. The BWFA Meat committee then took another big decision which was to build a new complex which would be able to become a centre where large numbers of cattle could be handled. Mr and Mrs Colin Ford agreed to lease a new site to the BWFA to erect a new sale centre where the sale is held today. This was an enormous task undertaken by a few farmers on a voluntary basis, Doug Galpin did an incredible amount of work.
The first sale in the new complex was held in 1980 which was the beginning of Charlgrove as one sees it today.
In any business where weight and price are linked, one has to measure. The meat committee then took a bold and not always popular decision in 1988 to install a cattle scale that would weigh the cattle being sold in the sale ring where the average weight would be displayed for all to see. This was the first scale to be installed in the Eastern Cape and has proved to be a great success.
Twenty years down the road since the scale was installed, thousands of cattle have been weighed and sold. The facility is being well looked after, however, farming is never easy and by nature of the beast new challenges will arise – what will the next defining moment be?
Hobson & Co held their first sale at Charlgrove in August 2002. With the help of a very energetic meat committee, a once again almost defunct sale was resurrected. At that particular sale a mandate to source 600 cattle was given, 1465 cattle ended up being sold that day! Even with the huge influx of game farms, over 4000 cattle are still being sold at Charlgrove annually.