John Cowan

Have your say

JOHN Cowan, who for 50 years ran the family hill farm high in the Yorkshire Dales before retiring to play golf, has died aged 71.

He farmed mainly sheep, with some cattle, and was a noted breeder of Swaledale tups which he sold at Hawes Auction Mart. He was well respected throughout the local farming community among whom he was known as the complete stockman.

He was born at Manor Farm, Halton Gill, which had been in the family since the 1850s and was the second of four children of Jim and Amelia Cowan, having an older sister and two younger brothers.

From the age of five he was educated at Halton Gill School until it closed when he was 14 and he then spent a year at Upper Wharfedale School, the first time he had left the hamlet which lies in the shadow of Pen-y-ghent.

At one stage he and his brother Tom, who had a neighbouring farm in Littondale, joined forces and expanded until at their peak they farmed 1,000 acres and ran 1,000 sheep.

In the late 1980s they split the business and returned to farming separately and in 1989 John Cowan, and his wife Anthea, turned part of their farm into Halton Gill Bunk Barn, self-catering accommodation for up to 40 people.

But when he was 65 he retired and sold the farm, although he retained the bunk barn, and he and his wife moved to Harrogate where he completely changed the course of his life and spent his days playing golf.

He was a gregarious man with many friends enjoying a number of sports including country pursuits, darts, snooker and billiards.

Mr Cowan is survived by his wife of 37 years, Anthea, and their daughters Elinor and Jane.

A celebration of his life will be held at The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, on Monday at noon.