Situated in the wild outlying region of Walsden on Inchfield Pasture were two adjoining farm dwellings known as the Pot Ovens farms, now just a single farm. It isn’t known how old the farms were, but they are mentioned in 1775 as having sittings at St. Mary’s church in Todmorden.

About 1790, John Crossley, a farmer of Henshaw who had a numerous family of handloom weavers, was offered one of the Pot Ovens farms at a bargain rent on condition he produced 60 fustian warp pieces for the owner. He did not accept the offer, possibly preferring the location of Henshaw on the gentler and less exposed slopes on the other side of the Walsden valley.


The moor near Pot Ovens

The old footpaths leading over Inchfield Pasture and Moor wound down to the valley, and along these routes there were many beerhouses. Most were just farmhouse dwellings whose owners wanted to make a little extra money by brewing their own ale and offering it for sale to thirsty travellers.  One of these was at Pot Ovens farms and was known as The Dun or the Brown Cow.


SAMUEL JACKSON was the tenant in 1784 according to the Land Tax Records. He was a native of Facit or Shawforth, over the hill from Inchfield near Bacup. He arrived in Walsden with his brother, married Martha Woodhead and raised 10 children in this uncompromising spot.

He was known affectionately as “deaf old Sam”. He worked hard, possibly by producing the required number of fustian pieces in addition to farming the land. What he may not have known at the time was that his home lay on a coalfield. Coal had not been developed in the Todmorden area, as there was little need for it at this time because steam power had not yet arrived in the mills.

By 1792 the Haighs of PASTURESIDE, being shrewd businessmen, began to develop the coal measures under the land, and opened up FOULCLOUGH MINE along the track from the Pot Ovens Farms. The Haighs also built a new road to accommodate the extra traffic generated by the mine, and this conveniently ran right past Pot Ovens

Foulclough Road


Samuel’s sons were engaged to work in this mine, giving up the less lucrative handloom weaving. They combined the work of farmer and collier very successfully and began to prosper, acquiring their own property. Deaf Old Sam also acquired a share in the mine.

Samuel died in 1809 at Pot Ovens, leaving a will worth £200 that included a share in the mine. He was an old man of over 80 years when he died, and the farming duties had long been the responsibility of two of his sons, James and William.

The brothers took a farm each and another brother Robert took the next-door farm known as THORNSGREECE. In the Inchfield Chief Rents record book for 1826, it shows the Jacksons owned their own farms and lands and paid a ground rent to Mr. Dearden, Lord of the Manor, of 14s 4d a year for the two Pot Ovens farms and Thornsgreece.


Pot Ovens

William Jackson's Farm


This was the larger of the two farmhouses, having 4 rooms in 1891, but they each had a similar amount of land. William and his wife Sally Jennings lived here, where they raised 9 children. William inherited his father’s privilege in Foulclough Coal Pit equally with his brother Thomas, share and share alike.

William was born in 1761 in Walsden. He was the main trustee for the whole estate and was charged with gathering in the money and paying out the several legacies. This farm had about 10 acres of land and 2 cattle gates on the pasture. He was the owner-occupier in 1826 according to the Inchfield Chief Rents book. William died in 1825 leaving the farm to his oldest son John.

John was born at Pot Ovens in 1797. He married his cousin Mary Newell and they lived at the farm until sometime after 1851, producing 13 children.  Sometime during his occupation, the Pot Ovens farms were sold to Joshua Fielden of Waterside House, brother of John Fielden MP. When Joshua died in 1847, he bequeathed these lands, along with many others, to his daughter Jane, wife of James Ramsbottom.

After the farm passed to the hands of Joshua Fielden, John continued as tenant, working the farm and supplementing the meagre income by working at the mine. John’s brother William, known locally as Steen, died tragically in May 1849. He had been missing for a week, and when last seen he was in a state of intoxication. His body was found in Ramsden Mill dam on Sunday 27th May. He was unmarried and aged 50 years.

part of the moor

John and Mary left the farm sometime between 1851 and 1861, leaving their eldest son Samuel to take over. He carried on with the family tradition of combining mining with farming. His first wife sadly died at Pot Ovens in July 1855 without having had any children. Samuel married again within 6 months and he and his second wife Sally (Fielden) had 4 children born at Pot Ovens before they moved on between 1861 and 1871.


Samuel was the fourth generation at Pot Ovens, and the last in the line. When he and Sally left, William and Sally Barker succeeded them. 

William and Sally were second cousins, both great grandchildren of Old Deaf Sam, but from a different line. They had previously lived in one of the attached cottages, moving to the farmhouse when Samuel and Sally vacated it. They lived at Pot Ovens all their married life, either in the cottage or the farmhouse. In 1881, William was farming 22 acres of land and the other Pot Ovens farm was uninhabited. He had presumably taken on the whole estate, but sadly died soon after, leaving Sally to cope with her large brood of children. She moved down to Calfhey Terrace in Walsden with 5 of them.

By 1891 the farm was in the hands of John Proctor, an outsider from Westmorland.


James Jackson's farm


The smaller of the two farms, with just 2 rooms in 1891, James Jackson and his wife Mary Mellor took this on at the same time his brother William took the other Pot Ovens farm and brother Robert took Thornsgreece. It had a similar amount of land, in the region of 10 or 11 acres, and its own 2 cattle gates on the pasture.


James was born in Walsden in 1752 and died at Pot Ovens in 1820. He left a WILL, which showed he was a reasonably wealthy man when he died. He left his farm, farming stock, household goods and all other properties equally to his sons John and Samuel. His remaining children and grandchildren received cash legacies.

His wife Mary stayed on and died there in 1828. They had raised 7 children at Pot Ovens, and when James died it was taken over by their son Samuel. Samuel was the man in charge in 1826 according to the Inchfield Chief Rents book, and was the owner-occupier.

Samuel never married but continued with the farm until after 1841 with the help of his niece Mary Dawson. (Daughter of his sister Mary). Shortly after 1841 he bought a cottage at Hollins to which he retired, and where he died in 1848. This may have been when the farms were sold to Joshua Fielden. Samuel was unmarried and childless, and the farm passed to distant cousins, William and Ann Jackson.

William was a distant cousin of Samuel. His wife was also a Jackson, but there is no documented evidence they were blood relations. William was a son of Thomas Jackson of Middle Ramsden Farm, and Ann was a daughter of Abraham Jackson of Dyches.

They were both brought up to this way of life, and remained at Pot Ovens for the rest of their lives together. Indeed, when William died aged 56 in 1865, Ann remained at the farm until she died in November 1871.

It seems likely that the widow Ann was the last farmer at this small place. In 1881 it is unoccupied at up for let. In 1891 her daughter Mary and her husband, Joshua Jackson were in occupation of this 2-roomed house and Joshua was working at the mine. Mary and Joshua were first cousins. They had both died by 1901 and the house was no longer recorded on the census.

The two farms had attached cottages, used mainly for housing miners and their families. One long time tenant was James Newell. He lived at Pot Ovens upwards of 50 years. His wife Hannah Walton gave birth to 12 children in this cottage. Not all of these children survived to adulthood.

Another tenant in the early days was Abraham Rigg. He and his wife Sally Roberts occupied one of the cottages between 1806 and 1816, possibly much longer. His main claim to fame is in the vast number of illegitimate grandchildren he acquired through his son William and daughter Sally. At the last count there were 17.

Today, the farm is one home and remains occupied.


Pot Ovens Links