The Ox Roast

Although Wolverton was very much a new industrial town there were still strong ties to the country and country ways. In 1865 Wolverton Station was approximately 25 years old and a generation had grown up there which had only known town living. The Ox-Roast held on Whit Monday, June 5th 1865 was a wonder and a source of excitement to many.

It was occasioned by the first livestock market to be held in Wolverton in the previous week, on Wednesday May 31st 1865. Farmers had come in from the surrounding countryside and it was reported that 189 cattle, 529 sheep, 55 pigs and 30 horses were sold. The Royal Engineer, the North Western and the Victoria Hotel did a roaring trade and the market had been judged such a success that the Wolverton tradesmen bought a bullock from a Castlethorpe farmer, Mr Pike, for £22 10s. The newspaper report does not say where this market was located but it was presumably around the Market House, which was later built over by the two storey white building presently on the site.

The bullock was butchered and hung for a few days and on that Monday slowly roasted on a spit. The fire and spit was set up on part of the Church Street car park. At the time this was between the newly built Science and Art Institute and the caretaker’s house.

The roasting was supervised by John Walker the Creed Street baker and apparently was ready for carving at about one o’clock. Hundreds, possibly thousands, lined up for a slice. Needless to add that this open air roasting was not subject to any food regulations in 1865,

There was a lot to celebrate on this day. It was the first anniversary of the opening of the Science and Art Institute and the first carriage shop had been recently opened. Opinion was not 100% behind the idea of Wolverton being a carriage works in 1865, but nevertheless, about 500 people attended a tea in the new carriage shop and 1300 people attended a ball in the evening. There were also some sporting activities in the afternoon but it is unclear from the report what they were. The newspaper says “old English sports”