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Haggs Hill Farm Ossett - Owners 1807 to 2008

Haggs Hill Ossett

The Farms at Haggs Hill - Owners and Occupiers 1807 - 2008

I begin the story of the owners and occupiers of the Farms on Haggs Hill in about 1900 but the following history covers the 100 years before and the 100 years after this middle point. Before 1970 the area was dominated by two Farms at Haggs Hill. The first went by, and still retains, the name Haggs Hill Farm which is now situated to the west and alongside the M1 Motorway and to the south of the 1920s Queens Drive. The second , which no longer exists, having been demolished to make way for the 1970s Teall Court, went by the name Queens Drive Dairy Farm. This Farm however existed before the 1920s and consequently it must be have been known by another name before this time. The acreages attached to these two farms has varied over the years but Haggs Hill Farm appears to have had a maximum acreage of 20 acres whilst Queens Drive Dairy Farm had no more than ten acres - and some of that was to the north of Queens Drive.

I begin in about 1900 because the catalyst for this history was a contact from someone seeking information about the area who knew that his great grandfather had lived at Haggs Hill Farm in 1919. He had contacted me through the Ossett History website and his grandparents, Stephen Green and Nellie Blake, had married at South Ossett Church in 1919. The Marriage Certificate showed that the father of the bridegroom was James Green and he was living at Haggs Hill Farm at the time of the marriage. The following history covers the 200 years from 1807 to the present time but the story begins with the Green family in 1900.

James Green, it seems, was a bit of an itinerant farmer. In the 1901 Census he was 50 years of age and described as a farmer. He and his 45 year old wife, Dinah, had 11 children aged between 25 years and 5 months. I learned later that, actually, James and Dinah had 17 children so maybe that's why he kept moving about so much! But moving about they did for the census shows that the 11 children recorded in 1901 were born in four different locations; all in South Yorkshire.
James himself was born in Fulwood near Sheffield in 1850. In 1861 he was living with his parents, farm labourer Joseph and his wife Mary at Jeffery Green, Upper Hallam Sheffield. By 1871 he had left home and was lodging with a Blacksmith and working as a labourer at Bradfield. In 1881 he was living at Hoyland Nether with his wife Dinah and five children aged between 7 years and two weeks. He was working as a coal banksman. But, it seems the call of the countryside came again and by 1891 he was farming at Handsworth near Sheffield; by 1901 he was a farmer of Yews Farm Worsborough near Sheffield. It seems James and Dinah may have been 1880's itinerant hippies with a sense of humour. Two of their children were named Farewell and Harvest! A third was named Theresa Green.

In any event by 1919 it seems that the Green family, or at least some of them, had moved from the Sheffield area and were living at the 18 acre Haggs Hill Farm. By then, James would be 69 and so one imagines that most of the heavy work was being undertaken by the sons, including 27 year old Stephen. He had 5 brothers, four being older than him.

To some extent it seems farming was in the Green blood for James' father, Joseph (born 1828) was also a farm labourer working at "Jeffrey Green" Upper Hallam Sheffield in 1861 though by 1871 he was a "road labourer" and in 1881 a "general labourer" living, still, at Upper Hallam. Joseph's father was called Samuel (born 1796 at Worsborough Sheffield). He appears to have been one of five children (four boys) the children of one James Green born in the 1760s or 1770s.

Enough though about the history of the Greens. When did they arrive at Haggs Hill Farm? I know they were there in 1919 and that they were elsewhere in 1901 so they must have arrived in that 18 year period. What is known however is that they were tenants and not owners. By 1929 they were gone.

This was because on 18th January 1929 the Farm was sold by Adam Rivers Steele, Major (Ret'd) in His Majesty's Forces, to David Jesse Batley. Adam Rivers Steele was the son of Eleanor Steele (nee Robinson) who, in 1900, had inherited the property (and much more - in fact about 500,000 GBP more) from her favourite grand uncle Charles Wheatley of Sands House Hopton near Mirfield. It's uncertain when the Farm came into Charles Wheatley's ownership though it must have been during the 19th century because in 1807 Haggs Farm was in the ownership of Robert Raynor and Alexander Johnson.

In any event in January 1929 Jesse David Batley purchased the land from Adam Rivers Steele. I believe that Mr Batley may have been renting the Farm for a few years before this since in the conveyance he is described as being of Haggs Hill Farm. Since the Greens were there in 1919 I suspect that Jesse David was tenant from the mid 1920's after he sold land and property at the junction of Manor Road and Teal Street which his father, also Jesse David Batley (senior), had bought in 1887. Jesse David (junior) worked this land whilst also working at Roundwood Colliery. I can't be certain but I suspect he sold Manor Road land to the Council for housing development. David borrowed 1200 GBP from the Halifax Building Society to buy the Farm and on a second mortgage he borrowed a further 174 GBP from Wakefield Solicitor, Henry Burton.


In March 1887 the senior David Jesse Batley, Confectioner of Boothroyd Lane Dewsbury had bought the land at the junction of Manor Road and Teall Street "formerly used as gardens situate ... on Ossett Common and at a place called Teale Town ... containing one rood and 12 perches [just over one quarter of an acre] ... and two messuages or dwellinghouses some time ago erected by John Teale ... now or late in the occupation of Benjamin Teale ... " . The vendors of the land were Aaron Naylor and Benjamin Teale.

Jesse David Batley junior was a coal miner [hewer] and he appears in the 1891 (aged 18) and 1901 Census living on Teale Street Ossett. In 1891 he is living with his widowed mother, Elizabeth a confectioner and baker, and one of his sisters. In 1901 he is living with his wife, Edith and 3 children. Jesse David was born in Saltaire in about 1873 the son of Elizabeth and David Jesse Batley senior (born 1825). Jesse David's father worked for Titus Salt at that time and the Census shows the family living in the Shipley area in 1861 and 1871. Sometime after 1871 but before 1881 it seems Jesse David senior left Saltaire for Dewsbury and the rich pickings of confectionary. Jesse senior died in 1890.

Below: David Jesse Batley at Haggs Hill Farm with Roundwood Colliery behind

David Jesse Batley at Haggs Hill

Having bought the Farm in 1929 Jesse David Batley junior set about making it work but by 1945 the Farm had become too much for him and his son (also Jesse David) and on 11 August 1945 the 72 year old Jesse David sold the land and property for 2000 GBP to John Scholey Menmuir of West Ardsley. It looks likely that Mr Menmuir already owned land to the south of the Farm. Maps show that Mr Menmuir subsequently built some Greenhouses on the land just in front and to the north of the farmhouse but within 5 years - in 1950 - Mr Menmuir was to sell part of the holding to Jack Scholefield, Steel erector of Middlestown and Millicent Collins, Spinster, of Hightown.

Mr Menmuir sold two pieces of land at the Farm to Jack Scholefield and Millicent Collins. One was that piece to the south of the Farmhouse (1 acre 3 roods and 22 perches) known as Pump Field that in 1810 or so had been allotted in the Ossett Inclosure Order Act. The other area was the land and 3 cottages - 19, 21 and 23 Haggs Hill Lane - that stood just to the east of the Farm. In the same transaction Mr Menmuir also sold to Mr Scholefield and Miss Collins 2.385 acres between Pump Field and Haggs Road (now a truncated Roundwood Road once known as Buck Trap Lane).

It seems likely that the main purpose for Mr Menmuir to sell some of the land at the Farm in 1950 was to raise money; perhaps things were not going quite as well as had been anticipated when he bought the Farm in 1945. What is strange though is that in addition to selling approximately 4.5 acres to the south of Haggs Lane to Scholefield and Collins he chose to sell 3 of the Cottages to the north of Haggs Lane that butted up to the Farm buildings adjacent to the Farm. Was it because the Cottages had a water and electricity supply which Scholefield and Collins thought might be useful were to seek to develop their adjacent land?

Mr Menmuir was to sell the remainder of Farm holding (now 16.5 acres) "All of which property is known as "Haggs Hill Farm" to the National Coal Board in March 1954 thus confirming tales that the Coal Board purchased the Farm because it had become tired of compensating the Menmuir family for the damage to their crops caused by burning pit waste at the adjacent Roundwood Colliery. By all accounts it turned the Greenhouse lettuce blue!
The WYAS reference for the Deed is 1954 vol36 page 133 no.60.

From thereon the NCB held the freehold of the Farm and rented to tenants. Jeffrey Gill Wilby was one of those farm tenants until his death at the Farm in 1990. I am not certain when he first rented the Farm but it was probably around 1960. Jeff would have been aged 21 in 1954 when Mr Menmuir sold the Farm and so it is possible, and likely, that there was a tenant of the Farm prior to Jeff Wilby. As Jeff's executor I ran the Farm with my wife Pat and a friend, Pauline Blackburn, from his death until the Summer of 1992.

In that Summer the NCB accepted an offer for the Farm and the associated land, approximately 9 acres to the south of Queens Drive. Since the NCB sold the site the new owners have had a number of tenants occupying the property at different times but none for any length of time and most, it seems, not undertaking activities associated with agriculture or farming. The only exception to this was in the period 2002 to 2005 when a couple rented the Farm and kept several shire horses, hens ducks geese goats and a few pigs. In mid 2005 they moved away to Scotland..

At the beginning of this piece I identified that the Green family rented the Farm in 1919. Earlier than that time it is more difficult to identify occupants. However the 1901 Census shows a John Renshaw (Farmer) was living here with his wife and three children. John Renshaw was also in occupation of the "cottage stable shed" and the 18 acres or so of the Farm in 1900 according to Charles Wheatley's Will of that year. Charles Wheatley's Will also shows a "Frank Nettleton and others" in occupation of " eight cottages and vacant land thereto".

These eight cottages are no longer there, all of them having been demolished before about 1970. Two cottages were attached to the existing Farmhouse (which is probably of late 19th or early 20th century construction), three stood in the yard in front of and parallel to the Farmhouse and three stood adjoining and to the west (Teall Court side) of the barn.

The extract, shown below, from Charles Wheatley's Will is taken from the Wakefield Manorial Court Rolls of 1902 when Charles' Executors and Trustees were seeking the consent of the Lord of The Manor of Wakefield to the admittance of Eleanor Steele (Charles' great niece and the main beneficiary of his Will) as tenant to Charles' land ownerships - including the Farm. The extract also shows another piece of land in the occupation of Isaac Pickard. This is the land behind the Cottages at 7 and 9 Haggs Hill Road.

Haggs Hill

Extract of a Schedule from Charles Wheatley's Will of 1900 showing occupancy of the Farm

The Frank Nettleton referred to in the document was Ossett born Francis Nettleton - known as Frank - who was the Roundwood Colliery Manager. Around this time he is shown elsewhere living at Mount Pleasant probably in the Pit Manager's houses on the left at the top of Queens Drive. Consequently he may have had some sort of interest in the Haggs Hill Cottages but it is unlikely that he lived there. It may simply be that Charles Wheatley let the whole to Francis, or to the owners of the adjacent Roundwood Colliery, and he sub-let to others - often mining families.

At various times over the 120 years or so from 1850 to 1970, maps show the presence of the two farms and other dwellings either within the curtilage of the farmyards [for example the eight cottages at Haggs Hill Farm] or close to the Farms. In total the few dwellings there were never exceeded 30 in number and all had been constructed, at various times, adjacent to Haggs Hill Road. None were constructed to the east of Haggs Hill Farm except those at the very eastern end of Haggs Lane. Reference is made later to the people who, it seems lived along the road but the following notes refer only to those families who lived at Haggs Hill Farm, the associated eight cottages, and the [Queens Drive] Dairy Farm. It is interesting to note the extent to which occupancy changes, in terms of individuals and occupations, over the period examined. It is plain that many who lived here at different times had to be mobile as, no doubt, they sought work wherever it was available.

In 1901 Haggs Hill Farm was farmed by 46 year old Flockton born John Renshaw and his family. The adjacent cottages were either empty or occupied by the following and their families; Alfred Kilburn (Colliery Weighman), Thomas Glover (Circular Sawyer), Isaac Hetherington (Coal Hewer), George Harrop (Coal Miner), Joseph Wilby (Colliery Labourer), Joe Stephenson (Coal Miner) and Arnold Blakely (Blacksmith). It seems likely that George Stevens and his family were still living at the Dairy Farm.

In 1891 it seems likely that George Stevens, Farmer, was occupying the Dairy Farm. Buckinghamshire born Stevens is shown living here with his daughter Amy (stocking knitter aged 13 and born in Ossett). From 1886 Haggs Hill Farm was occupied by 36 year old John Renshaw, son of Richard Renshaw (died 1886) formerly an Agricultural labourer from Flockton. The cottages at the Farm are either vacant or occupied by Alfred Killbourn [sic] (Colliery Clerk), Wright Oakes (Blacksmith), Arthur Chappell (Coal Miner), Joseph Wilby (Coal Miner), Mary Reynolds (widow), Richard Reynolds (Coal Miner) and George Lodge (Coal Miner).

In 1881 Eliza Fothergill, widow, is a "farmer of 10 acres" probably occupying the Dairy Farm and living with her son in law Charles Morris "Coop Grocers man" born London, her daughter Martha Morris and their daughter Gertrude. Haggs Hill Farm was in the hands of Richard Renshaw, a "farmer of 18 acres" and father of John who was also living and working at the Farm. The adjacent cottages were occupied by Henry Dyson (Engine Wright), William Allsop (Farm Labourer), John Allsop (Carpet weaver),Walter Morton (Labourer at Iron works), George Hill Driver (Railway Plate Layer), William Renshaw (Labourer Farm), Frederick Nettleton (Engine Fitter)

Evidence from 1871 is less certain. The Dairy Farm appears to be occupied by George Wilson and his wife Elizabeth who were Wool weavers living with their daughter in law Eliza Fothergill, "grand daughter in law" Martha, and a lodger. This is the same Eliza Fothergill described as a farmer of 10 acres in the 1881 Census. It is probable that Haggs Hill Farm is being worked by Richard Renshaw (though he is described as a Farm Labourer). Other families in the Haggs Hill Cottages are Joseph Ramsden (Labourer), George Oakes (Coal Agent), William Allsop (Farm Labourer), Robert Pickard (Coal Miner), Thomas Crowther (Coal Miner), Edward Hudson (Coal Miner), Matthew Brummit (Clothier) and William Binns (Dyer).

The 1861 Census shows George Wilson, wool weaver living with his wife and a lodger. In 1871 the Wilsons were living with Eliza Fothergill their farmer daughter in law so it is possible he was living at, or adjacent to the Dairy Farm in 1861. The occupancy of the Haggs Hill Farmhouse is also problematic. The Census shows the following families living at Haggs Hill but it is not certain which, if any were farming the land. The 1851 map of the area has the description "Haggs Hill House" where the Farm now stands and it may be that around the 1850's or 1860's the nature of the main building changed. The existing Farmhouse does display architectural characteristics consistent with the second half of the 19th century so it is possible that "Haggs Hill House" was an older and perhaps grander building than that which survives today. In any event the following families are shown living there or in the associated cottages. William Dews (Miner)/Martha Scott (Burler), William Allsop (Agricultural Labourer), George Oakes (Book keeper), Thomas Grayson (Carter), Thomas Nightingale (Nail Manufacturer), George Alderson (Carpet Weaver), George Ramsden (Retired Miner), Harris Brown (Agricultural Labourer) and Nathan Brummit (Weaver). It is worth noting that the occupations of those living here in 1861 were significantly different to the mining presence some ten years later.

The 1851 Census records Frank Fothergill a 64 year old widower and farmer and it is probable that he was at the Dairy Farm Those families living at Haggs Hill Farm or the cottages were George Oakes (Banksman), Thomas Grace (Miner), Joseph Ward (Miner), Charles Pollard (Blacksmith), James Archer (Farm Labourer), James Ward (Miner), Thomas Page (Miner), William Dougle (Miner) and Joshua Swallow (Miner). [A Richard Grace of Haggs Hill Private 1408 of the Dewsbury Corps of the St John's Ambulance Brigade serving in South Africa in 1901 during the Boer War was to "die of disease" in Newcastle Natal South Africa on 19 January 1901]

The 1841 Census was the first of the national Censuses (though an 1821 census was taken in Ossett - and is still available). It is likely that 85 year old farmer, David Fothergill, was living at the Dairy Farm with his family including 50 year old Frank and 13 year old Benjamin (who I think would go on to farm and run "The Fleece" Public House on Ossett Spa). Those families at Haggs Hill Farm and the cottages were William Grace (Miner), Thomas Page (Miner), Robert Howgate (Miner), Jos Wild (Miner), William Etherton (Miner), John Wilcock (Clothier), James Ward (Miner), Thos Butterfield (Blacksmith), Thos Grace (Miner), William Etherton (Miner), Charlotte Wilby, William Tresh (Woollen Weaver), and Joseph Gower (Labourer). This shows 13 families living at Haggs Hill suggesting either that there were more cottages at that time or that some of the above families were living in cottages further to the west of Haggs Hill Farm and close to the Dairy Farm.

I can be sure, therefore, of the Farm occupancy back to 1871 having examined Deeds, because the buildings are clearly identified from Charles Wheatley's Will and because the 10 yearly Censuses provide descriptions of the occupations of those living at Haggs Hill. Robert Raynor owned the land in 1807 but the occupants of the Farmhouse between 1807 and 1870 are more difficult to identify. The inhabitants of the Farm complex - the Farmhouse and eight cottages - are shown above in more detail but it is not possible to identify which of the families was living in the Farmhouse and which were living in the adjacent 8 cottages. Indeed it is not even certain that the house at Haggs Hill - described in the1851 map as "Haggs Hill House" - was a farmhouse at that time.

In summary I believe the ownership and tenancy of Haggs Hill Farm and the associated land has been as follows;

Year Owners Occupier Notes
1807 Robert Raynor Not known Probably farmed by Raynor
1871 Not yet known Richard Renshaw Farmer of 18 acres born Flockton
1881   Richard Renshaw  
1891   John Renshaw Farmer son of Richard
1900 Charles Wheatley John Renshaw From Wheatley's Will of 1900
1901 Eleanor Steele John Renshaw  
1910 Eleanor Steele Unknown Inherited from Wheatley
1919 Adam Rivers Steele James Green Steele inherited from mother Eleanor
1929 David Jesse Batley Owner Bought from Major Steele
1945 John Scholey Menmuir Owner Bought from Mr Batley
1954 National Coal Board Jeff Wilby Jeff Wilby from about1961
1990 National Coal Board Alan Howe As executor of Jeff Wilby
1992- 2008 Abdul Khushie Various  

There is more detail about the ownership and occupancy of the Dairy Farm, to be known as Queens Drive Dairy Farm after the mid 1920's but in summary it is likely to have been as follows;

Year Owners Occupier Notes
1841 not yet known David Fothergill  
1851   Frank Fothergill  
1861   George Wilson Fothergill relation
1871   Eliza Fothergill 10 acres
1881   Eliza Fothergill  
1891   George Stevens  
1901   George Stevens  
1919 Board of Education not known  
1920 Jesse Birkinshaw    
1924 Walter[Wally] Gill Wally Gill/Percy Wilby 10 acres
1942 Walter Gill   Sells 6 acres north of Queens drive to
Bennet Brook of Sowood Farm
1946 Percy Wilby Percy Wilby 4 acres
1960 Peter Birkinshaw Owner  
1971 Tay Developments    

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