Market Place: Louth

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It's 10am and the Wednesday auction at Louth has already begun. Tweed flat caps bob hither and thither as their owners jostle for position. Meat kicks off the proceedings: partridge, rabbit, pig's fry - raw and ready for the pot. The auctioneer doesn't need to bellow as Cornmarket, with its venerable buildings forming three sides of a small rectangle, seems acoustically designed. During the day he will progress through an array of plants on to the produce of Lincolnshire's fertile soil: carrots the size of a toddler's arm, moon-faced swedes and, of course, potatoes. Later still comes a farrago of junk. There's usually at least one hulking Seventies computer, wrecks of bikes, electrical leads that lead nowhere, and a procession of toasters. An innocent once asked whether there was a guarantee. The reply: 'I'll guarantee it's a toaster.'

Just off Cornmarket, the new market hall is where to find two of Lincolnshire's local delicacies: stuffed chine (cured forequarters of pig stuffed with parsley), and plum bread.

There's a sense of occasion on Wednesdays. Friends meet, the pubs do good business, stalls spill onto Market Place. But how long Louth will remain a consummate market town is in question. Work to create a 'Georgian street scene' using cobbles (liked by tourists but not local people with disabilities) is already under way, and the council is fighting plans for a nearby supermarket.

Returning to the auction, a curious collection came up for bidding a while back: a toilet seat, a pair of Wellington boots and a rubber mat 'to stop you slipping . . . Who'll give me 10p for the lot?'

Louth Market, Cornmarket, Lincolnshire; 9am-4pm Wed, Fri, Sat; auction 10am Wed

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