The practice was originally based at 1, St Peters Square, (previously, St. Owens Street) in the centre of Hereford (now Keith St Peters Hairdressing) The register of Veterinary Surgeons first records, Captain John Barker and John Procter, as vets at this address in 1921. However the practice was purchased from a S. Beeson in 1919.
The practice has had a continuous link of vets with overlapping careers ever since with every partner in the practice so far starting and ending their careers in the practice-( but some with time elsewhere in between). Hereford has a strong attraction.
Captain Barker worked in the practice until his death in 1956. He was joined by his son, Ian who continued the family tradition and remained at 1, St Peters Square. Firstly working with David McCracken, and then being joined by Brian Watkins who became a partner in January 1970 to form the partnership Barker and Watkins.
Brian remembers that “Mr Barker went to work in a navy suit and a bowler hat and would inspect the animal
over a gate while smoking a cigarette in a cigarette holder. His bowler hat would remain on his head whether calving a cow or foaling a mare! And if asked what time he was expected to visit would say “I’ll be there before or after lunch”!
In January 1974 the partnership was expanded by the addition of a new partner Alan Fleming and then Neil Newton in January 1977- to become Barker, Watkins, Fleming and Newton. Brian retired at the end of 1984 and Ian at the end of 1986.
By 1987 the practice had changed a lot from its very traditional farm animal workload to include a lot more companion animal work and was out growing its premises. Also being in the centre of Hereford was becoming increasingly difficult for access of farmers with animals in trailers!
Although seeing the size of the M&S lorries that travel East Street perhaps that’s not so!
So in December 1987 the practice moved out to 94 Belmont Road a house that has been extended and converted to provide operating theatre, an x-ray suite, laboratory and extensive inpatient care facilities. At this point the partnership became Belmont Veterinary Centre.
William Main joined the partnership in January 1990 and Neil retired at the end of 2001. In 2001 the practice was modernised and extended again to reflect the increasing work load and need for space
Alan retired at the end of December 2003. At this point Matthew Pugh joined the partnership.
Bill and Matthew are the current directors and over the years the practice has grown from 2 vets and a receptionist to the current practice of 13 full time vets, 5 part time vets and 20 support staff comprising veterinary nurses and receptionists and a practice manager.
In 2003 the practice decided to have species specific veterinary teams- this means that there are a team of vets who only do companion animal work- cats, dogs and “small furries” and a team who work with the farmers and horse clients. We feel this means we are able to give all our clients the expertise they deserve- in this fast changing world that we live in you need to keep up to date.
As further commitment of the practice to the farming community we opened a farm animal and equine branch in Bromyard in January 2006 to help provide a better service to our clients in north Herefordshire and beyond.
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