Food, Days Out and Travel stories from Brighton, London and the Rest of the World


Great Grandad's missing cow makes page 5, sixty two years ago today

By strange coincidence my mother discovered a news article that had been kept for sixty two years on the very day the article would have gone to press.  By further coincidence the date, 4th of July also fell on a Monday sixty two years ago and relates to the story of my great grandfather's prize winning Ayrshire.

As it seemed so strange for this story to emerge on it's anniversary I thought I would share it.  What made my mum laugh when she was reading it out to me was how, apparently police across Ulster had been looking for this cow.  It may even be the cow that we had a painting of, in a big gilded frame hanging in our dining room, much to my mum's disapproval.  Perhaps this final chapter will reconcile my mother to the cow after all.

Belfast Newsletter 1949, Agnew's Ayrshire cow
Overtoun Bellflower

Missing Cow Found Alive reads the news article. Fell into a disused tank a fortnight ago. The champion Ayrshire cow, Overtoun Bellflower, for which police throughout Ulster have been searching for a fortnight, was found yesterday evening, half-submerged in a disused tank in the grounds of Garnerville House, Old Holywood Road, not fifty yards from the field from which she strayed on Saturday, June 18.

Able to Walk – Though somewhat emaciated, the cow, on being pulled out of the tank, was able to walk to the byres of its owner, Mr Norman Agnew, dairyman, Holywood Road, about three-quarters of a mile distant. The tank in which the cow was imprisoned was no bigger than five feet deep. It had been covered by planking which seemingly collapsed under the cow’s weight. The tank was hidden by a large plot of nettle also four or five feet high.

How the beast survived is a mystery. She had no food other than what nettles she could crop from the verge of the tank and no water other than what the slime contained.

Mr Agnew told a “NewsLetter” reporter: - “In a lifetime’s experience of cattle I have known nothing like it. At the time she strayed the cow was giving six gallons of milk a day, and usually when a cow is not milked it kills her. Perhaps we have the unusually hot weather to thank for saving her. It remains to be seen whether she will come to milk again.”

The discovery

The cow was discovered by Mr C Brownlee of Holland Park who was passing through the grounds. He summoned assistance and the bank was dug away to make a gradient, and with the aid of ropes around her rump the cow was able to scramble to safety. She was immediately scrubbed down and examined by a veterinary surgeon.

Overtoun Bellflower, which was purchased in Scotland for a substantial sum won first prize for Ayrshires at the recent show at Balmoral and was supreme champion in all breeds in the milking classes.

Since the disappearance of the cow many theories have been advanced, not a few people suggesting that she has been stolen for slaughter for black market meat.

Belfast Newsletter 1949, Agnew's Ayrshire cow
Belfast News-Letter Monday 4 July 1949

Belfast Newsletter 1949, Agnew's Ayrshire cow
Missing cow found alive

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