Inchfield Moor


Map ref. SD 908216




Known occupiers



1831 -1855

HAIGH John & Reuben


HAIGH Reuben


HAIGH John William

1901 -

HAIGH Reuben








Illustrated history


The first indication of the Haigh family's involvement with the coal mines at Inchfield is found in a lease made in 1792 between JOHN HAIGH OF PASTURESIDE, when he was 44 years old, and George Travis. This was for the lease of Foul Clough Coal Pit for 37 years for the sum of £20 per year.

The agreement allowed John Haigh to dig, sink, wind up and bank the coal, and then to transport it down to the new road, which had recently been made into a turnpike road at Travis Bridge.

There was also provision for a new road to be made to enable the coal to be carried from the pit down to the new road. John went ahead and built a road that went from Wall Nook to Knowlgate near the new turnpike road, and it can still be seen today. It is known as Foul Clough Road. (left)

All the horses and ponies that were used for carting the coal had to be kept from straying on to George Travis' land, and gates had to be erected and kept shut so that this wouldn't happen. It was also agreed that money called "scorage" should be paid to George Travis. This was a levy paid on the price that the coal was sold for, with amounts and weights agreed upon beforehand. It was paid at the same time as the rent for the pit, usually at the Roebuck Inn at Rochdale. Travis on his part, agreed to maintain the road from Travis Bridge up to Inchfield Fold as far as Samuels Higher Gate. John Haigh could repair the road himself and take the cost out of the amount owing in rent and scorage. This excluded the removal of any snow on the road!! John had to meet that expense himself, which in winter would no doubt be quite a sum. Inchfield Road was known as "t' Coil Gate" by the older generations, remembering a time when it would be busy with traffic generated by the mining industry.

John also had to agree to fill up any old pit shafts so that they would not become a danger to either cattle or people and would revert back to being able to be cultivated. The leasing of the pit was a shrewd move on the part of John, as the demand for coal was growing and he saw the future being reliant on a constant and ready supply of coal due to the changes in the cotton industry that were taking place.


John had inherited PEXES FARM and 3 cottages in his father's WILL, dated 1772, whilst his brother Reuben got the living at DEAN. Reuben died in 1806, leaving Dean to his brother John, so John was becoming quite an entrepreneur. He was a low thick set man, known locally as Cocky Duck or Great Collap. The latter name arose out of his habit of always helping himself to the largest slice or portion of food, particularly when feeding his labourers after a days work. He built up the coal business and his two sons, John, born in 1772 and Reuben 1787 helped in the business as it grew.

The 1800's were a boom time in the mining industry with coal in great demand for the steam-powered mills that were sprouting up in the valley.

Foulclough and MOORCOCK were hives of activity with the arrival of new families coming over from the Shawforth and Facit areas of Whitworth, mainly the Jacksons, a well-known family of mining people. They lived in the farms of POTOVENS, BROWNROADS, DYCHES and THORNSGREESE along with the local inhabitants and married into the families. The Barkers were also a family who came especially to work at the mines and lived at Thornsgreece and Vicarage.

all that remains of Vicarage today


Round about the 1820's the Haighs decided to open up a new entrance to the coal pit near Coolham and began working this as well as the Foul Clough pit. The remains of this drift mine can still be seen. The family business was growing.


remains of the drift mine at Coolham


The ruins of Coolham

New housing had to be built to accommodate the miners and all the various other tradesmen who were needed, such as joiners to make and mend the pit props, carters to fetch and carry the coal, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, and others necessary to keep the mines working smoothly. A small village grew up around Coolham and the house itself housed many families being quite a large one.

ruined interior of Coolham


Most of the farm inhabitants also had jobs in the mines and the women would work in the cotton mills, leaving just the head of the household with the task of running the farm. So life was good, with full time employment and people prospered from the work, earning regular wages from the various jobs of work.

The Haighs also continued to prosper and in 1823, John the elder had bought TOP OF ALL FARM from John Travis for £1400. He continued to acquire property and when he died in 1831 he left the interest in Dean and Pastureside to son John, Wall Nook and Dick Coat to son Reuben and Pecks Farm, Top of All, Coolham, Vicarage, 2 cottages at Nicklety and all the residue of his estate equally between his two sons John and Reuben.

He was 76 when he died in 1831, which for that period was way over the life expectancy. An exceptional and far seeing man, who's instincts proved right and his foresight proved to be the foundation of a dynasty which would end in 1951 in the Welsh town of Ruabon. ( His will can be read HERE ) John's two sons, John and Reuben each progressed in different ways.

John, the elder son, a shrewd man like his father, saw an opening for the business elsewhere and he left Walsden and made a home in Chadderton, near Middleton, where he expanded the Haigh coal interests. He still kept his partnership with his father and brother going, and must have had to "commute" to Walsden quite frequently. He also acquired an interest in collieries at Cliviger, near Burnley. He had 5 children, of whom two were involved in coal as they became older. Reuben born in 1804 and James born in 1810 and we shall hear more of them later.


Reuben, the younger son, who we shall call Reuben of Moorcock to clarify the various Reuben names, stayed in Walsden, and as well as being a coal proprietor, he farmed 270 acres at MOORCOCK. He married 3 times and had 13 children of whom only 9 survived him, and of these, none carried on in a senior position at the mines.

The Haigh coal business was a hard fought one and everyone in the family had to pull their weight. These were not the wealthy mine owners, but the drift mine proprietors whose living was hard earned and who worked hard at manual labour to achieve their goals.

Reuben of Moorcock's only surviving daughter was JINNY HAIGH, and of his sons, only Abraham, a son by his second wife Betty Jackson, born in 1834, followed him into the "managerial" side, as a coal proprietor at Clough where in 1861 he was employing 15 men and was unmarried. Abraham's first wife, Charlotte Bancroft who he married in 1861, died in 1864, and Abraham married again. By 1881 he had left Walsden and was living in Surrey where he was employed as a mercantile clerk.

Of Reuben of Moorcock's other sons, John, the eldest, born in 1811, took over the farm at Top of All and died in 1868. This farm is also now in ruins as can be seen right and below.


William, his second son, was known as BUTTY.

Reuben, another son, worked as an employee in the pit and when he died in 1857, five months after his father at the age of 42, he had progressed to being a book keeper.

James his next son was a clogger, so left the mining to his other brothers. It is quite likely that he had the work of mending the miner's clogs, so he was still working in the family business in a way. He was married to Mary Fielden and had two children that we know of, John born in 1844 and Grace born 1845. James died in 1862.


Joseph born in 1820 made his living from the mines, at one time as a carter and later on as a banksman. He married Sarah Pearson and they had 11 children. He died in 1870.

Samuel, born in 1825 worked in the mines all his life, apart from the few times he was helping his sister Jinny in her various pubs. He married Susy Jackson and they had 9 children. During the mid 1870's the family moved from Moorcock where they were living, down to Inchfield Mill, and a letter sent to Jinny's daughter Grace in New Zealand provides an insight into his life. He died in 1884 whilst Susy lived on until 1919.



Inchfield Mill, Walsden May 8 1875


Dear Mr. And Mrs. Watson

As I have not had any communication with you since you left England I hope you will excuse me in sending you a few lines. I have not been able to get your address until just lately and our brother's ptr. (?), Mr. James Lord informed me that you desired me to send you a Todmorden Newspaper-I beg to do so and -at the same time-I hope you will give me a few lines in return please let me know what family you have got and how you are getting on in your distant Colony. I visited London in 1874 to see brother Luke and wife and family I stopped there about 9 days and liked the place-Called Bexley Heath very well, it is distant from London about eleven miles-where there is excellent scenery. We have left the Moorcock this last March-and returned to Inchfield Mill-Walsden-a place better adapted to our present family we have seven children alive five boys and two girls.

I still have the old situation as Banksman at the Coal Pit hoping you will accept our best respects and give me a few lines in return.

I remain

Yours mo respectfully

Samuel Haigh

PS Please-Address

Samuel Haigh

Inchfield Mill





(letter kindly provided by Beverley Watson)


Luke Hamer, the youngest son, born in 1827, married Sarah Watson in 1852 and moved to Manchester, where he stayed for nearly ten years, when the family moved again, this time to London.


Reuben's first son of his second marriage was Young Haigh who was born in 1831 and died in 1833, leaving Abraham as the only surviving child of his second marriage.


Reuben of Moorcock, brother and partner of John, also possessing a shrewd eye for making a bob or two, decided that rather than the miners going elsewhere to spend their hard earned money, they may as well spend it in his beerhouse, so he opened one at the Moorcock, which enabled him to regain the wages he had paid out to them!

Every night after the shift in the mines was finished, the colliers would walk down the road from Coolham and the other outlying farms to gather at the Moorcock for their evening pints and catch up on the day's events.

As the evening progressed many an argument and fight broke out between the miners and the young sons of Reuben. It was all the outcome of youthful high spirits and too much ale, with never any lasting damage done or any malice meant.

The Moorcock ruins in 2003. An old fireplace is visible


In the census of 1841 nearly every farm in the area had workers employed in the mines. The Jacksons of Furnace, Mount Peasant, Dytches, Potoven, Thornsgreece and Brown Roads; the Crowthers of Dytches, Coolham and Thornsgreece; the Barkers of Vicarage and Thornsgreece. These were the families that were to dominate this area for many years to come.


The Foul Clough Road would have been a hive of activity with carters taking the coal down Inchfield Road to the coal yard owned by the Haighs at Clough. This was between the main road and the river, near to the road leading from Hollins to Clough. From here it would have awaited being taken to the local factories or going by rail or canal to Manchester, or just for the householder to collect and pay for, as they needed it. The carters would be employed in delivering it to the various locations around the town.

Business was good and the two Haigh brothers prospered enough to be in a position of being able to build houses at PEXWOOD, which can still be seen today.


The coal road was in need of constant repair from the wear and tear that the horses and the carters caused. The weather also took its toll on the surface, pitting it, and the winter frost would deepen the usual potholes, making them a cause for concern and a danger to the horses and the wheels of the carts.

One character who worked at mending the road was a cousin of the Haighs, he was called Reuben Hiley and lived at Nicklety. He was nicknamed "Old Wraggs", but nobody knows how he came by it. He used to be a handloom weaver in his younger days but as he got older he was permanently employed on mending the Foul Clough Coal Pit Road. This was an outdoor job and as such, he encountered all the various changes in the weather and began to notice certain occurrences and patterns in the changes. He noted that, "the reason why there was so much rain about Todmorden was because the clouds in coming over the hills, got worn through by rubbing on them, and then th' weets ran ewt at th' hoils."

Reuben of Moorcock died in 1857 at PEXHOUSE and he was noted as a farmer and coal proprietor. With him, died the interest he had in the mines as they were taken over by his nephew Reuben, son of his brother John. The farming of Moorcock passed into the hands of the Jacksons, whilst two sons of Reuben of Moorcock, Joseph and Samuel, lived in the new buildings at Moorcock. There is no indication of any beerhouse here at this time and Joseph and Samuel were both workers in the mine. It was the end of an era with the death of Reuben.


By 1861 nothing much had changed. The Jackson, Crowther, Barker and Haigh families continued to inhabit the farms and work in the mines. A few new families had moved into the area, the Newall, Blezzard and Pearson names had appeared.


John, the brother and partner of Reuben of Moorcock, had moved to Chadderton near Middleton by 1810 and after he died in 1855 his son Reuben took over his interests in the Foul Clough mine and also Freeholds at Whitworth. Reuben had been living at Pastureside, the family home in Walsden, since at least 1837 when his daughter Elizabeth was born there.

John, his father, had left the Pastureside estate to Reuben in his WILL and to Reuben's eldest son on his death and so on. During his lifetime John had become the owner of Top of All and Deacon Pasture which he left to his son James, but not the coal and cannel. The cottages at Pexwood and 3 houses at Rochdale Rd., Middleton went to his other children. His son James also took over the interest in the Cliviger Coal Company, which on his death passed over to his brother Reuben.

So it seems that Reuben inherited and became the sole owner of all the properties and mines that had been handed down from the earlier generations. He married Susannah Smith of Worsthorne and had a daughter Elizabeth and a son JOHN WILLIAM HAIGH.


Reuben lived most of his life at Pastureside but had moved to Clough House by the time of his death in 1886. He was 82 when he died and left everything except the 28 cottages at Pexwood to his son, John William, who carried on the family business. He left the sum of £78,000, which was a great amount of money in those days. The cottages were left to his married daughter, Elizabeth Barwick.

Clough House


His wife, Susannah died in 1897 in Keighley, and they are both buried in the family vault in St. Peter's, Walsden.

This was the end of the Haigh mining family who lived in Walsden. Reuben and Susannah's son, John William had gone to Ruabon in Wales and his son, another REUBEN, although still involved in mining and holding the family interests which still existed in the Cliviger Coal Company and others, never returned to Walsden.


In 1926, a drift mine at the back of Ramsden Hill was opened by the Cliviger miners and the road past Top of All was used for the first time in it's history. The road was built during 1860's and was a Fielden cotton famine road. This was a way of keeping men in employment during the cotton famine, rather than having them to resort to poor relief, which the Fieldens were against. They were paid half wages for doing this and by doing so, were able to keep a certain amount of dignity.


So the coal mines of Inchfield are now just a memory, with only the outcrops of coal and the ruins of the old buildings, standing open to the elements, remaining as reminders of the days when the coal mines were the main means of employment, and which maintained a whole community who lived out their lives on the moors above Walsden.

According to John Travis, John William Haigh has left the

coals under Inchfield for future contingencies.


Additional information

researched, recorded and referenced by Mrs Sheila Wade

Hebden Bridge WEA Local History Group


Walsden Rates Book 1861-68

owned and occupied by J. and R. Haigh, colliery, Foul Clough, R.V. £306.0s.6d. 1866 - rateable value £322.9s.0d.

Walsden Rates Book 1869-90

owned and occupied by Reuben Haigh, colliery, Foul Clough, R.V. £322.9s.0d. 1873 - additions to colliery R.V. £67.12s.0d. 

1874 - Reuben Haigh of Pastureside owner/occupier. 

1881 - R.V. £296.10s.0d. 

1888 - R.V. £252.

Walsden Rates Book 1893

permanently unoccupied

Walsden Rates Book 1894

occupied by Haigh & Higgin & co; owners - freeholders of Inchfield Common, colliery, Foul Clough, R.V. £252.