Pastureside is well named. It stands on the boundary of Inchfield Pasture and Inchfield Moor. Look out of one side and all you see are pastures sloping away down to the valley a long way below. Look out at the other side and all you see is wild moorland.


The nearest neighbours are at BROWN ROADS and THORNSGREESE Farms. It is exposed and lies on a rough track that leads from the end of the present day Inchfield Road, past the farm and over the moor towards Law Hey, the now ruined NAZE, and DEAN.

There is an old date stone on a chimney of the present day Pastureside Farm that belies the true age of this ancient farmhouse. The stone says 1856. This is the year following the death of John Haigh of Chadderton who bequeathed the property to Reuben, his son. Reuben had lived at Pastureside for many years prior to inheriting the farm, raising a small family of two children with his wife, Susannah (Smith). It seems likely Reuben and Susannah did a re-build on inheriting the property, adding the date to a new chimneystack.


There is some evidence of a slightly earlier date stone of 1831 with the initials J.H. At that time an earlier John Haigh (the Younger) owned the farm and lived there with his wife, Ann Wood. Again, this date appears to commemorate a re-build. Whilst the actual age of the farm is unknown, it seems to have been in existence as far back as at least 1674. The Parish Registers record the death of a son of James Roydes in 1674, and the death of John Emmott in 1680 at Inchfield Pasture, another name for this farm.


Pastureside January 1940 sent by Karen Greenwood

During this latter part of the 17th Century, there were Stansfields, Cockcrofts, Jacksons, Smiths, Roydes, Emmotts and Lords in this area, all of whom have baptisms and deaths recorded in the Parish registers.

However, the rulers of the Pastureside at Inchfield were undoubtedly the Haigh family, whose remarkable dynasty began at Pastureside in the 17th Century and ended in 1951 in the Welsh town of Ruabon.

REUBEN HAIGH THE FIRST   (farmer and clothier, died 1750)

The first known Haigh in Walsden was Reuben the First, married to Elizabeth Butterworth. His interesting biography can be read from the link. In 1709, Mr. Thomas Townley of The Rhodes, Pilkington, Lancashire, owned the land and property, together with 8 cow gates on the pasture. Sometime prior to 1709, Reuben acquired the lease on Pastureside and part of the land. Over the following 250 years Reuben’s descendents purchased the freehold, added to and bought up more acreage, built dwellings and small farmhouses, and developed the coal measures under the land.

By the time Reuben died in 1750, the owners of Pastureside were the Travis family, in particular Hannah and Mary Travis. In his WILL Reuben bequeathed the lease to his son John Haigh the Elder of Pastureside.

John Haigh the Elder  (1703-1772)

An indenture dated November 1767 shows a John Greenwood purchasing one undivided share of:

“All that messuage and tenement called the Pasture situate and being in Inchfield within Hundersfield then in possession of the said John Haigh, and of two barns and all those closes and closures of land to the same belonging there called the Higher Meadow, the Lower Meadow, the Milking Green, the Limed field, the Green Hole, the New Meadow, the Honey Field, The Rushey Field, the Furgate Field, the Naze Field and the Wood and …… by estimation 19 acres of land of customary measure; and also of all that one barn in Inchfield aforesaid and of the two closes or fields called the Rough Hey and the meadow thereto adjoining theretofore in the possession of Hannah Travis, and which closes were formerly occupied with another tenement in Inchfield called Old Travis Tenement and containing by estimation five acres of land then in the possession of the said John Haigh, and also of four Beast Gates and 2/3 of a Beast or Winter Gate and of 20 sheep gates and of common of Turbary in Inchfield upper pasture.”


photo kindly sent by Karen Greenwood

John was married to Mary Stansfield, herself the heiress of Dean Farm on Inchfield Moor. Her elderly father, John Stansfield of Dean, spent his last days at Pastureside before dying there in 1763.

John and Mary raised three children at the farm. He died a relatively rich man in 1772, and in his WILL he left the remainder of his lease on Pastureside to his son, John the Younger.


John Haigh the Younger   (1748-1831)

John the Younger was a short, thickset man, known locally as Cocky Duck. When he was gaining in years, at harvest, sheep dipping or clipping time he employed a number of men to help, and invariably invited them inside his home for food and drink. These men soon noticed that when John handed round the plates of meat, he always selected the longest and best pieces for himself. From this he became known as Great Collop, the word collop being local dialect for a slice of beef, ham or mutton. John knew very well the men had dubbed him by this name, but it didn’t bother him as he could give and take a joke as well as any other.

John was also an astute businessman who saw no point in renting when he could afford to buy the freehold. In 1788, he purchased a part share of Pastureside from relatively recent owners Mary Nuttall, Richard Whitehead and John Hamer. These three persons bought it for £140 the previous year.

croft and barn before 1925, sent by Karen Greenwood


So John the Younger now owned the freehold on a half share of the farm and the leasehold on the other half, the freehold of which was still owned by John Greenwood.

John the Younger was married to Ann Wood. They had 8 children born at Pastureside, 7 of whom survived to adulthood. The Haigh business empire went from strength to strength under the leadership of John The Younger, as it was he who began to develop the coal measures under the pasture at Foulclough in about 1800. The story of these coalmines and the Haigh family can be read through the link below.

In 1809, the owner of the freehold of half of Pastureside, John Greenwood, died. John Haigh the Younger saw his chance and purchased the freehold from John’s brother and heir, Lawrence Greenwood:

Lease and release of these dates made between Lawrence Greenwood the brother and heir at Law of John Greenwood deceased, of the one part and the said John Haigh of the other part, being a release and conveyance from the said Lawrence Greenwood to the said John Haigh of the undivided moiety of the hereditaments comprised in and conveyed by the first recited Indenture of 27th & 28th November 1767.”


He now owned it all, and on 1st March 1816, he received a grant of Tithes, being:

“A parcel of the Rectory of Rochdale in the Division of Todmorden from the said John Crossley Esq. and John Lee to the said John Haigh of sixty five acres of land and premises therein described situate in Inchfield aforesaid.”


photo kindly sent by Karen Greenwood

He died in December 1831, but not before adding the date stone and his initials to his farmhouse. By the time of his death, John the Younger had acquired the freehold on Pastureside Farm, DEAN FARM, TOP OF ALL, Coolam, Vicarage, PEX FARM (PIGHILL), Nicklety, DICK COAT and Wall Nook, and all the associated lanes, barns, stables, cottages, woods, water courses etc. He was a remarkable man

John Haigh of Chadderton  (1772-1855)

John the Younger’s son, John Haigh of Chadderton, inherited the Pastureside lands. However, John had left Walsden for pastures new near Oldham some twenty years earlier, so his son Reuben became tenant of Pastureside. John Haigh of Chadderton was married to Betty Fielden of North Hollingworth Farm. They raised 9 children, but Reuben was the only one who remained and settled in Walsden. The rest made lives for themselves in the Oldham area.

John did pop back to Walsden from time to time, and in 1838 played a major role in the TODMORDEN ANTI-POOR LAW REBELLION. He was on the committee appointed to look into matters, and signed the PETITION supporting the Overseers in their quest to withhold taxes from the Board of Guardians.

photo kindly sent by Karen Greenwood

He signed himself John Haigh, coal agent of Pastureside. His son Reuben also signed the petition as Reuben Haigh, farmer of Pastureside.

photo kindly sent by Karen Greenwood

Reuben Haigh of Pastureside   (1804-1886)

Reuben of Pastureside married Susannah Smith of Burnley, and they had 2 children. They continued as tenants of his father at Pastureside until 1855 when his father died. Reuben then inherited the farm, but only for his lifetime. It was then to go to his son, John William Haigh.

Reuben and Susannah continued at Pastureside and are to be found there in the censuses of 1841, 1851, 1861 and 1871. In 1851 Reuben is still farming 120 acres with the aid of 3 labourers. By 1861 he has retired from farming to become a full time coal proprietor, leaving the farming to a Langfield family who are relatives of his wife.
In the 1843 survey of Walsden, Pastureside was recorded as having acreage of 55 acres, 3 rods and 26 perches.

photo kindly sent by Karen Greenwood

Reuben was an influential member of the congregation at St. Peter’s Church in Walsden from its inception in 1848. He was the treasurer on a committee appointed to raise funds for purchasing a peal of bells and clock for the church in 1872. The money was raised and the first bells rang in September of 1872.
He must have been devastated a couple of months later when the chimes weight on the clock broke, bringing the whole lot down through three floors, landing on the ground below and sinking quite some depth in to the earth. He presumably had to start again with the fund raising.
When John William, his only son, married, Reuben and his wife left Pastureside for an easier life on the valley bottom, leaving John William to continue with the farm. They moved to Clough House close to the family coal yards, and this is where he died in 1886 a few days short of his 82nd birthday. Both Reuben and Susannah are buried in a large vault at St. Peter’s.

Clough House


JOHN WILLIAM HAIGH   (1850-1901)

John William married Hannah Ratcliffe, daughter of Peter Ratcliffe, licensee of the Black Swan in Todmorden. They settled at Pastureside after his father retired, and on his father’s death in 1886, John William inherited the farm as provided for in his grandfather’s will. He is there in the 1881 census, farming 50 acres with the help of 2 labourers. However, it seems he was not inclined towards the life of a hill top farmer, and sometime during the 1880’s the family moved to live in Ruabon, a small town in North Wales. As far as is known, he never returned to live at Pastureside.


Haymaking at Pastureside 1925, sent by

Karen Greenwood

John William employed a manager, James Wilson, to look after the farm, and he is there with his family in 1891. The family originated from Cliviger, and included a son who was a veterinary surgeon - a useful occupation on a farm. Early in 1891, James' son visited them at Pastureside with tragic consequences as can be seen from the following report:

The Leeds Mercury, Wednesday, January 7, 1891;

Sad death of a commercial traveller at Todmorden

Yesterday, Mr. Molesworth held an inquest at Pastureside Farm, Walsden near Todmorden, touching the death of Mr. Arthur Wilson, commercial traveller in the timber trade of Palmerston Drive, Seaforth near Liverpool, whose body was found in his father’s barn at Pastureside on Sunday morning last. A bottle, which had contained Calvert’s Preparation of carbolic acid for disinfecting purposes was found by his side. A verdict of Suicide whilst in an unsound state of mind was returned.


John William Haigh died suddenly at the young age of 50 years in July 1901, and the farm was passed to his only son, Reuben. His body was returned to Walsden and interred in the family vault at St. Peter’s.




Reuben was born at Pastureside about 1879, but whilst still a young boy moved to Ruabon with his parents and never again lived at the farm he owned for 50 years. Reuben continued to develop his father’s massive business interests until his death in 1951 at Ruabon. He sold his family's ancestral home at Pastureside in January 1939.


Stansfield/Lord families

The tenant in 1901 was Joseph Stansfield with his wife Elizabeth Jackson. Elizabeth was born and brought up on Inchfield Moor, being an off spring of the Jacksons of POT OVENS, DYCHES, and THORNSGREESE Farms.

shaking out the hay at Pastureside c1925, sent by Karen Greenwood

Joseph was the only surviving child of John Stansfield and Deborah Southwell. Deborah is living with Joseph and family at Pastureside in 1901. Joseph and his family moved to Pastureside from Friths Farm about 1895 when their daughter Mary was a young girl of 8 or 9.

Joseph and Elizabeth had a younger son, Frank Stansfield. The family story is that Frank drowned at home in a horse's trough at the farm as a young child.  However Frank death certificate shows he died at age 5 months at Frith Farm of natural causes in 1895. Perhaps it was this tragedy that encouraged Joseph and Elizabeth to take up the tenancy at Pastureside.


In 1904 there was a tragedy at Pastureside, although details are vague. There is a report in the Annals of Todmorden (compiled by Dorothy Dugdale) dated 3rd November as follows:

“Mr. E. Hill, district coroner, held an inquest at Walsden relative to the death of Mrs. Annie Woodhead, aged 24 of Pastureside, Walsden. The jury returned a verdict of death from lead poisoning.”

In 1923, Joseph’s daughter Mary married Walter Lord, son of Elias Lord and Jane Greenwood, and together they took over at Pastureside. Walter was a veteran of the Great War, having fought at Passchendael, Ypres, with the Royal Field Artillery.

Walter and Mary July 1938, sent by Karen Greenwood



There is a stream that passes the outer walls of Pastureside, which runs downwards expelling tons of water in to the river near Clough. On 12th August 1938, following a great cloud burst, the water gathered strength as it sped down the hillside, causing massive flooding. This was the day after the family had finished the haymaking. The farm was flooded out, and also much of Walsden.

photos kindly sent by Karen Greenwood
The river blocked at the entrance to the railway tunnel at the top of Calfhey Terrace, tearing up the streets on its way to the station a quarter of a mile ahead. Traffic had to be diverted and trains were cancelled for several days.

aftermath of the flood at Walsden railway station


Walter and Mary Lord ran Pastureside as a dairy farm until 1939, when his declining health forced them to move to the valley for an easier life. They settled in Cornholme. Their two children, Janey and Frank, were born at Pastureside and must have found life in the valley a lot different from their hill top home at Pastureside.

photo kindly sent by Karen Greenwood

Frank Lord with Dolly the milk float horse and Kitty, a heavier working horse outside the stable door,

August 1938


photo by Karen Greenwood

This photo shows Frank Lord in 2006 on a return visit to the place of his birth. He is standing at what was the main entrance to Pastureside Farm in his day, now the walls are partly tumbled down.  This is where they would leave the farm with the horse and cart to deliver the milk.
In January 1939 when the Lord family vacated the farm, owner Reuben Haigh of Ruabon sold the estate to Jack Ratcliffe. This was the end of the Haigh family dynasty at Pastureside - 250 years of being handed down from father to son. Jack Ratcliffe rented the farm out to Jeff Eccles who for the previous six years had been tenant at neighbouring farm BROWN ROADS. Jeff seems to have remained there throughout the war years.

Mitchell/Knowles families

The next known tenant was Wilbert Mitchell, who is thought to have taken over about 1945. Wilbert died at Pastureside on Tuesday 1st April 1975 aged 87 years. Also living at the farm were Wilbert’s daughter Clarice and her husband Tom Knowles who were running the farm. Little was thought about the circumstances of his death until mass murderer Dr. Harold Shipman hit the headlines.

Mr Mitchell's death was one of the 22 deaths for which the cause was certified by Shipman during his time in Todmorden. Following the publication of Professor Richard Baker's clinical audit in January 2001, the police investigated the death and took statements from Mr Mitchell's daughter and son-in-law.

No inquest was held at the time of Wilbert’s death but an inquest into the death was opened and adjourned by the South Manchester Coroner on 18th May 2001. Tom and Clarice were called to give evidence – a difficult take after over 25 years. Briefly, Tom and Clarice had been at a horse show with their daughter for the day. On their return they found Wilbert dead in his chair. They were very surprised because despite his age and angina, he remained mobile and active, and would still ride into Walsden as a pillion passenger on Tom’s motorcycle. They stated his death was unexpected, and appeared to have occurred during the afternoon. They called the Abraham Ormerod Medical Centre, leaving a message for the duty doctor to call round. This duty doctor turned out to be Dr. Harold Shipman. Totally against regulations, Shipman certified his death as natural causes without referring it to the Coroner for a decision on a post-mortem. Had he made an earlier visit whilst Tom and Clarice were out? After hearing all the available evidence, much of which was lacking due to Wilbert’s medical records having been destroyed, the Coroner’s conclusion was:

“There are some slightly puzzling features about this death and I unfortunately find myself in the position where I can reach no positive conclusion about it.”

For more information on this case, visit

Tom and Clarice, both in their 80’s, were still farming 60 acres at Pastureside in 2003 when we paid them a visit. Tom sat us down in his garden, despite it being a distinctly chilly February day, and remenisced about his time at Pastureside.
He showed us round the barns and cow sheds, and persuaded us to help him feed his small herd of huge white Charrolais cows.

In the barn he showed us a ceiling hatch where a previous occupier stored black market grain that had been brought over from the boats at Liverpool during the Second War, and he mentioned that Harold Shipman had been a visitor ...

What a history this farm has! Handed down from father to son for 250 years or more, and still in use as a working farm.

My grateful thanks to Karen Greenwood of Toronto for her photos of Pastureside and her notes on the Stansfield and Lord families.


Pastureside links