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Community marks 100 years of the Turra Coo

By SPP Reporter

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TURRIFF celebrated 100 years since the famous Turra Coo incident with a series of events last Saturday.

The tribute included a re-enactment of the story by Markethill Primary School pupils and a new book was launched at the Auld Post Office Museum.

The Ayrshire Shorthorn cross became a symbol of protest in 1913 for the local farming community against the introduced compulsory National Insurance tax by the Westminster government.

Kate Ferguson, chairwoman of event organisers Turriff Tourism Action Group, said the celebration received great public support.

She added: "Robert Lovie acted as compere throughout the day starting with a heart-warming appraisal and launch of The Turra Coo book written by the late Professor Sandy Fenton. The reprinted book has included the story of the sculpture creation which has become Turriff’s focal point and fondly referred to as Coo Corner.

"Turriff and District Pipe Band gave a wonderful entertaining program which included The Turra Coo tune composed by Bill Hepburn Snr for the unveiling of the sculpture three years ago.

"The play performed by the P6 Markethill Primary School pupils of the Turra Coo story was absolutely fantastic. Written by Allan Stephen, the youngsters played out the colourful story with amazing confidence and clarity to a very receptive audience.

"The period costume, poetry and art competitions added to the ambience of the day which special guest Aberdeenshire Provost Jill Webster thoroughly endorsed in her speech. Support from Aberdeenshire Council’s Be Part Of The Picture fund assisted and highlighted the history, culture and artistic talent there to be enjoyed."

In 1913 the tax was introduced by the then chancellor, David Lloyd George.

The cow was seized by bailiffs after its owner, Robert Paterson, who lived at Lendrum Farm near Turriff, refused to stamp employees’s cards in protest at the new tax.

The government attempted to auction the cow in the town square but the move caused a near riot.

Nearly 100 angry farmers and their supporters pelted police with rotten fruit and soot. Eight farmers were put on trial afterwards for disorderly conduct, but they were all acquitted.

The cow was eventually sold to another farmer, but the community grouped together, led by Bryony Miller, and purchased the animal back for Lendrum Farm.

Last weekend a series of events were held in Turriff’s town centre to mark the milestone, where a sculpture of the Turra Coo stands.

As well as the play and the book launch, Turriff and District Pipe Band performed for the large crowd in attendance, the largest town market to date was held and a poetry competition came to a conclusion.

The Turra Coo is also commemorated with a plaque at Lendrum.

First Minister Alex Salmond was among those who paid tribute to the town’s most famous animal.

He said: "Despite the years gone by, the story of this cow still rings true today.

"The rural economy of the North-east of Scotland seems a mystery to all those in Westminster and, unfortunately, that has not changed over the last 100 years."

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