SO, 75 years ago in 1946, the Craven Herald mused on famously enormous beasts and which was the biggest and fattest of all - the Airedale Heifer, or its more famous cousin, the Craven Heifer, of which several pubs in the area bear its name.

An engraving of a painting of the Airedale Heifer had appeared in a shop window in Settle and it being just after the Second World War with food rationing, it was getting everyone’s juices going.

The Airedale Heifer, explained the Herald, had been owned by William Slingsby, bred in Carleton and ‘fed’ at Riddlesden Hall.

From nose to rump, it measured 11 feet, 10.5 inches; it was 5ft 7.5ins at the shoulder and weighed 660Ilbs.

It was rising six years old when it was killed and ‘cut nine inches of clear fat’ on its ribs, reported the paper.

The following week, there was a follow-up and the battle was on - which was the fattest, the Airedale Heifer, or the Craven Heifer. There was also a pair of Durham oxen, raised in the Midlands, and the famous Yorkshire Rose. Reared in the North Riding, the Yorkshire Rose was 11 feet three inches in length, stood six feet high at the rump, and weighed an eye-watering 386 stones. |It was stated that ‘notwithstanding her amazing weight, she is very active’.

On the subject of the Craven Heifer, as reported in the Leeds Mercury in 1894, a John Tomlinson wrote about the exhibition of the famously fat cow that had taken place between 1811 and 1812.

The Craven Heifer measured 11 feet and four inches from nose to rump, was 5ft4ins at the shoulder, and weighed 312 stones.

Craven Herald: The Craven Heifer, as painted in 1811. Picture: WikipediaThe Craven Heifer, as painted in 1811. Picture: Wikipedia

A handbill announced the arrival at The Cock Inn, Haymarket, London, of the four year old, short horned Craven Heifer. Bred and fed by the Rev W Carr on one of the Duke of Devonshire’s estates at Bolton Abbey, it was then the property of Messrs Watkinson and Co., of Halton East.

Ladies and gentlemen were invited to pay a shilling, and servants, six pennies, to view the beast ‘allowed by all who have seen her to be the largest and fattest of her age of any ever shown in England’.

Messrs Watkinson and Co took the beast to London, commencing at Wakefield before continuing to Pontefract and Doncaster. The cow then went to Smithfield, visiting many towns along the way. The journey from Wakefield took 73 days.

John Watkinson, of Halton East, appears to have been a man who knew a good thing when he saw it. He bought the heifer, when it was four, for £200, with the intention of travelling around the country with it.

However, the money making tour did not it appears work out as planned, and Mr Watkinson allowed the animal to be competed for in a cock fight, an ‘ignominious end for the beast that once grazed within the precincts of Bolton Abbey’, reported the Herald.

Whiteoak's Workshop

I AM indebted to John Whiteoak for putting us right on what has been described by Craven planners as a ‘mill building’ when in fact is actually more correctly a ‘workshop’.

The three storey building, at Park Place, in Carleton, now the subject of controversial plans to convert it to residential use, was never a mill says John.

“My great great grandfather, John Whiteoak, in 1875 bought a larger plot of land than on which the building now stands for the sum of £102 and ten shillings.

“He had this building purposely erected as a joinery, undertaker and wheelwright workshop.”

John has shared with us this advert which says Mr Whiteoak made drays, lurries - an old fashioned spelling of lorries - and carts.

Craven Herald: Advert for Whiteoak's workshopAdvert for Whiteoak's workshop

He also carried out repairs ‘on site’ and promised ‘Joinery work neatly and expeditiously executed’.

A pretty penny

WHO would have thought that an old Victorian penny could be worth more than £2,000.

A 1896 ‘Bun head’ type penny in near ‘un-circulated’ condition beat its top estimate to sell for £2,200 - plus buyer’s premium- at the recent Tennants Auctioneers’ coins, tokens and banknotes sale.

Craven Herald: The 'bunhead' pennyThe 'bunhead' penny

Leyburn based Tennants says highlight of the sale was The Brian Boyce Collection of Victorian Pennies. Put together over a period f 25 years, the collection was a ‘near comprehensive representation of dates in the Victorian penny series’, including the1896 ‘Bun head’ - pictured above.

Waste not, want not

NORTH Yorkshire Rotters are on a mission to tackle food waste and its impact on climate change during Food Waste Action Week, which runs until Sunday.

The Rotters are offering virtual talks on preventing food waste and home composting, and a campaign is being launched on North Yorkshire County Council’s social media accounts throughout the week.

Volunteer Coordinator Jeff Coates has come up with a list of top tips to combat food waste. These include:Optimising storage – know how to store different foods to prolong their shelf life; Portion planning – know how much of certain foods to serve as a portion to avoid cooking too much; Compl-eat-ing – and using up every last bit of certain foods; Freezing and defrosting safely – knowing what can be frozen and how to defrost it safely.

They also include: Fridge optimisation – setting the right temperature and using the correct shelving to prolong the life of food; Understanding date labels – understanding ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ to ensure you’re not throwing away good food; and

Using up leftovers – getting creative and finding inspiration for using up leftovers.

For more information please visit: If your group would like to book a talk with the Rotters on home composting, Love Food Hate Waste campaign or Reduce, Reuse, Recycle please contact Jeff Coates on 01609 797212 or email

Garden bin collections

ON the subject of green waste. Now is the time to renew subscriptions to Craven District Council (£36 per year) and Pendle Borough Council(£35 per year) to have your garden waste bins collected.

In Pendle, bins will be collected from March 1, and in Craven, from April 1.

“It’s time to spring into gardening,” says the leader of Pendle Council, Councillor Mohammed Iqbal MBE. “Our crews will be out emptying green bins from Monday, March, 1 helping people to recycle their garden waste.”

Gardeners on the scheme can remind themselves what can and can’t go into their green bin by visiting

Crimes past

50 YEARS ago, on February 26, 1971, the Craven Herald reported on an interview with the then local chief constable, Ronald Gregory and the head of Yorkshire CID Donald Craig. In a wide ranging interview, they discussed attacks on women, prevention panels and putting more officers ‘back on the beat’.

The overall picture in Craven had seen a slight (0.5 percent) decrease in crime since the year before, and an increase in the detection rate. There had been a total of 70,417 in the whole force area, in 1970, compared to 70,742 the year before.

Most drug convictions - a new drug squad had been set up a year earlier - were to do with cannabis and amphetamines but there was also an increase in the use of hard drugs, taken intravenously.