Cattle on the road at Riseley, c.1910-25 [Z1306/96/6/3]
Tuesday 22nd February 1916: A Silsoe farmer has appeared at the County Court to defend himself against a claim for damages brought by Lieutenant Stanley Lambert, Army Service Corps, of Stockwood Crescent, Luton. At about 6pm last Wednesday Lt. Lambert was on military duty driving a motorcycle with a side car from Bedford to Luton, with his sergeant as passenger. Just before they reached the bridge between Silsoe and Barton he slowed, but it was very dark and he ran into a cow, seriously damaging his motorcycle. Ronald Harris of Silsoe has land on both sides of the road, and at the time of the accident two cows were crossing from the farm to the field opposite. However, the gate was shut and the animals were straggling across the road, and Lt. Lambert alleged that nobody was in charge of them. He went to the farm and complained to Mr. Harris who replied "I have had many complaints from motor drivers, but I have always beat them". He then produced a little boy who he said was supposed to have been in control of the cows.
Lt. Lambert said he had met cattle in the same spot before. On this occasion he saw what he thought was a cart loom out of the darkness, but this turned out to be two cows; unable to stop in time, he had struck one of them in the "softest" place. He also claimed that Harris had said "I have always succeeded in making the motorists pay". The judge reluctantly gave judgment for the farmer, as legal precedent held that there was no duty on the owner of cattle occupying premises adjoining a highway to prevent his cattle straying onto the road.
Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 22nd February 1916