The Durham Ox


The Durham Ox

The Durham Ox, the beast that inspired a nation. The Durham ox had portraits painted of him that were  hung in pubs and above fire places through out England. A set of crockery depicting the Ox was produced to celebrate the bounty of England’s natural recourse’s.


The Durham ox was initially exhibited as the Ketton Ox but he was sold for 250 pounds to John Day who recognised his worth. Day had a purpose built carriage built for the ox. He spent 6 years travelling the country exhibiting the magnificent ox. In 1802 people paid over 90 ponds in a day to marvel at the quality and size of an animal that England could produce. He was famous for his weight, size and looks. The ox weighed 2400 pounds and stood 5 foot 6 inches tall. When he was slaughtered he yielded 11 stone of tallow alone. Tallow was used for the production of candles so was a valuable resource.


The Colling brothers, Robert and Charles, bred the Durham ox. The brothers were not founders of the Shorthorn bread but their efforts ensured the survival of an ancient breed. The brothers were keen proponents of Backwell’s method of in or line breeding to fix a type.


John Day and his wife who travelled the country together with the ox created the legend of the Durham ox. There were many animals at the time vying for the prize of heaviest beast but the Durham ox had something more. “He was pleasing to the eye with a flat back, soft coat and almost female head.” Mrs Day also bestowed the verities of his gentle disposition.


The Durham ox met with an accident when unloading from his carriage hurting his hip. Finally John Day agreed to have the Ox slaughtered not wishing that the animal suffer.


The Durham Ox lived at the time of John Bull and the Roast Beef of Old England. A time when England was celebrating the magnificent produce they could provide the nation.Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 8.08.41 AM

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