In 1911 the Liberal Government introduced National Insurance payments to provide support for those unable to work. But not everybody was in favour of the new policy - some employers felt that they already offered their workers a good standard of care and the additional payment was unnecessary. One such employer was Turriff farmer Robert Paterson.
Paterson refused to pay National Insurance contributions for his workers and was subsequently fined. Then when he failed to pay off his arrears, sheriff officers took the only movable item on his property – a white milking cow.
After it was seized, the cow was due to be auctioned at a local market to pay off Paterson’s debt. However, locals showed their support for Paterson by disrupting the sale and refusing to bid on the animal. Riots broke out, the cow escaped and the auction was abandoned.
After the chaos of the disrupted market, the cow was retrieved and later sold in Aberdeen. The community chipped in and bought the Turra Coo back from its new owner and presented her back to Paterson in 1914.
There is a statue of the cow in Turriff town centre to commemorate this period of protest and unity ✊