Celebrity calf opens abbatoir

The inter-war years in Britain were no time or place for vegetartians or animal lovers

Britain's first semi-automatic slaughterhouse was opened in Loughborough in 1928 by Martin the famous Fresian calf. Martin rose to fame when he escaped from a pie factory holding pen while waiting to have his throat cut with the traditional Olde Stanleye Knife (which is still used today in some organic abbatoirs). Martin became something of a cause celebre and his continual evasion of would-be captors and slaughterers alerted local newspapers who enthralled their readers with several front page stories about his animal cunning and reported daily sightings and whereabouts.

Robin Youngblood takes up the story: "It were the usual stuff, you know, they wrote things like 'Pull The Udder One' and that sort of carry on. And then one of the reporters who knew me from down the The King's Head said it'd be a grand idea if when they finally caught him - Martin, that is - I could ferry him down the shambles with my BSA combination. Just so they could run a headline like 'Motorbike and Side-calf' or something to that effect.

"Well, my intended, at that time, was a girl called Mavis Bewley, and she was what I suppose you'd now call a vegetarian. She was very opposed to any form of cruelty and it was only because I fancied her that I told her I worked as a foreman at an animal sanctuary when really I was a throat-slitter's mate at the offal works on the far side of town.

"Well, eventually the Ministry of Agriculture men cornered Martin in a disused warehouse on the outskirts of town and he was taken back to the holding pens in an armoured car with a a police outrider escort. That was when my reporter mate sent me a pigeongram saying 'Get down the shambles now with your outfit.' Well, I was courting Mavis at the time, so I said, 'Alright Mavis, fancy coming down the animal sanctuary with me to help care for Martin the famous escaped celebrity calf?' And she said yes.

"Well, once she realised what was happening she threatened to kill herself if Martin wasn't released. So we did the picture for the papers, staged Martin's 'release' and then slaughtered him without Mavis knowing owt about it. Then later on she found out anyway and hanged herself. Sad really."