HEREFORD'S Old Market development has been dealt another blow today with the announcement that all Debenhams stores are to permanently close.

Here, almost a decade since the last cow was sold at the site, we have taken a look back at the history of Hereford's newest shopping centre.

For more than 150 years, the city site was home to a bustling livestock market, but the death knell sounded on livestock trading in Hereford city centre on June 15, 2011.

The bell that chimed at 1.15pm marked the final catalogue sale of store cattle, weaned calves and young bulls in the market.

Hereford Times: Graham Baker (left) and Andrew Edwards, from Hereford Market Auctioneers, helped by drover Dave Lynch oversee the last ever sale of pigs at the market.Graham Baker (left) and Andrew Edwards, from Hereford Market Auctioneers, helped by drover Dave Lynch oversee the last ever sale of pigs at the market.

But it was replaced by silence around an hour later when auctioneers confirmed the sale of the best beast and last cow.

And as the market moved out of the city to its new site off the Roman Road near Stretton Sugwas, the old cattle market site sat empty, awaiting demolition.

Hereford Times: Hereford's cattle market awaits demolition in 2011Hereford's cattle market awaits demolition in 2011

Delayed for reasons including the Queen's Diamond Day visit in 2012, the bulldozers finally moved in on October 1, 2012, and work began to replace the cattle market with a multi-million pound shopping centre.

Hereford Times: Demolition underway at the Langford sale ring in HerefordDemolition underway at the Langford sale ring in Hereford

The plans for the controversial development, described at the time by members of the It’s Our County group as a “prehistoric juggernaut," included a brand new cinema, restaurants, clothing stores, a Waitrose supermarket, and the now doomed Debenhams.


Hereford Times: Shoppers queue outside TK Maxx on opening day in 2014Shoppers queue outside TK Maxx on opening day in 2014

The Old Market complex finally opened to the public on May 1, 2014, with shoppers queuing from 5.30am to see what was in store.

The site's Debenhams department store was officially opened by Herefordshire’s own Paralympic athlete, Sascha Kindred OBE, at 10am.

Hereford Times: Paralympian Sascha Kindred cuts the ribbon at DebenhamsParalympian Sascha Kindred cuts the ribbon at Debenhams

Speaking to the Hereford Times at the time, councillor Tony Johnson, then leader of Herefordshire Council, said: "We are excited about the opening of Old Market which has taken some ten years to come to fruition.

"The movement of the old livestock market was the first step towards completing the masterplan for the area and we are delighted that the livestock market is now one of the most successful in the country.

"The Old Market development has attracted £90m of private investment and is the only retail development to be opened in the country in 2014; great news for the people of Herefordshire.

“The development has not only attracted new retail names but has ensured that names like TK Maxx and Next remain in the city; which would not have been possible without new retail space.”

Hereford Times: The Old Market's Chimichange fell victim to the closuresThe Old Market's Chimichange fell victim to the closures

But four years later, the development saw its first casualties, as Italian restaurant chain, Prezzo, announced plans to close 94 restaurants, including 33 outlets of its TexMex chain Chimichanga in 2018.

The closures left the Old Market with two empty restaurant units, which have not reopened to customers since, despite Herefordshire councillor David Harlow, then cabinet member for economy and communications, telling a meeting in March of that year that he had spoken to British Land and could confirm there was a waiting list for the units.

Hereford Times: The Swarovski shop was also short-livedThe Swarovski shop was also short-lived

The restaurant closures were followed by Swarovski, which closed in September 2018. The Yankee Candle shop which replaced it also closed in 2019.

Frankie & Benny's was next to close in July 2020, as owner The Restaurant Group announced it was shutting 125 of its sites across the country.

But life was again breathed into the empty restaurant in November, as The Beefy Boys announced they would be extending their restaurant into the unit.

But there are also fears for the future of another shop at the site, after Sir Phillip Green's Arcadia Group, which owns brands including Topshop, Burton, and Dorothy Perkins, and occupies a unit at the Old Market, fell into administration.

Hereford Times: Topshop at Hereford's Old MarketTopshop at Hereford's Old Market

Online fashion giant Asos has confirmed media reports that it is in exclusive talks with the administrators of Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia over the acquisition of the Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT brands, but not the shops.

Hereford Times: Crowds outside Debenhams on opening day in 2014Crowds outside Debenhams on opening day in 2014

The closure of the Debenhams store, one of the development's 'anchor tenants', will leave the largest shop on the site empty, raising questions as to what its future holds.