Today, many people walk around the reservoirs and surrounding countryside of Haslingden Grane, but perhaps know little of the thriving village that once existed there. The clues are there, with the substantial remains of farmhouses dotted throughout the valley, but much of the village was lost with the creation of the three reservoirs. This page gives its history and then concludes with what is to be seen on the ground today.
There were isolated farmsteads in the area dating back to Tudor times, but it was the opening of the turnpike road from Blackburn to Haslingden, in 1810, which saw the village develop. It was a ribbon development along and just off this major road. In 1815, a Wesleyan Methodist chapel opened, built at the end of a group of houses known as Chapel Row. These are long gone, but the car park at Calf Hey lies over their site. Part of the graveyard of the chapel still remains at the entrance to the car park. Just north of the site was Holt Clough Farmhouse, which was rebuilt by textile entrepreneur, Ellis Ratcliffe. Like so many farms in the valley, this also had cottages with loom shops. The cottages were later converted to separate business that included a grocers, butchers, smithy, joinery and a unlicensed beer shop.
Close by, just across from here on the north side of the turnpike road, was the National School which opened in 1836 for children in the Church of England. Sunday services were held there as well.
By the 1840s, the cottage industry of textile-making was declining as production shifted to the power looms in local mills. Residents of Haslingden Grane village would walk up into Haslingden town for work and there were local mills at Calf Hey, Heap Clough and Holden Wood. Others worked in the quarries, with the Roscow family a dominant force in the area. They began a huge quarry at Clough Head (where the car park and popular café is today) as well a developing another one at Musbury Heights, the tor hill that towers over the area. By the mid 1800s, six hundred people lived in the village, with a further nine hundred scattered throughout the valley.
In 1842, the first reservoir in the area was constructed. This was Holden Wood, and plans were soon put in place to follow it with a second one, Calf Hey. The water board bought up farms and their surrounding land, and it was this policy that would eventually seal the fate of the community at Haslingden Grane. The construction of Calf Hey did not progress smoothly. A landslip occurred and part of the embankment gave way, with earth demolishing a cottage beneath. The family living there were fortunate to escape with their lives. By 1860, this second reservoir had been completed.
The community of the Grane was still thriving after the construction of the second reservoir, with St Stephen’s Church opening, in 1867, on a piece of land opposite Crowtrees cottages on the main road. (The church was later moved stone by stone to its present site across from the Holden Arms pub. However, the original graveyard remains in place, and a cross now marks where the church once stood. See the full story of St Stephen’s on our page here).
Plans were then put in motion to build a third, even larger, reservoir between the first two. This was Ogden Reservoir, and more land was bought up to complete it, but again not just land that it would lie over, but the surrounding slopes. There were ongoing worries about contamination to the water supply from the farms, with fears of typhoid and cholera getting into the drinking water.
In 1899, records show the last haymaking at the large farms of Hartley House and Lower Ormerods (the ruins of which can still be visited, see below). Forestry, in the form of conifers, was planted to reduce rain run-off from some of the surrounding slopes. In 1906, Ogden Reservoir was finally opened, submerging Calf Hey Mill. With the remaining mills demolished and with very little farm land remaining, there was little reason for people to stay. By 1920, all the farms had been abandoned and Bury & District Water Board bought up the remainder of the fields.
Below we give a description of what remains of the Haslingden Grane community. There are substantial ruins to be seen. Start at Calf Hey car park and follow the route we describe to see the graveyard of the chapel, and the remains of Hartley House, Lower Ormerods and Top o’ th’ Knoll.
Chapel Row Cottages and Wesleyan Chapel
The Calf Hey car park is on site of the cottages which were known as Chapel Row. At the end of the cottages stood the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel and the three-storey-high Chapel House. On the top floor of Chapel House was a school room of the Wesleyan Methodist Day school, which began in 1864. It was not a very successful institution, with reports that the mistress in charge found the behaviour of the older boys difficult to deal with. An 1871 inspection described the teaching as feeble. Henry Kenyon was the caretaker of the chapel, he lived at Chapel House, where he also ran a grocers shop. When Ogden Reservoir was constructed he complained that it made the valley too cold, and moved to the warmer climes of nearby Darwen.
The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel graveyard lies at the entrance to Calf Hey Car Park. There is a small gate that gives access into it. After viewing, retrace your steps back through the car park. Then head down towards Calf Hey Reservoir to see the remains of Hartley House and its surrounding buildings. You need to take the uppermost path (by the picnic benches), not the one that leads straight down to the reservoir.
Hartley House originally dates back to the 1500s. Today, we can see that it developed into a number of farmhouses and associated cottages, with some loomshops attached. The site takes it name from the Hartley family, who lived there through the 1500s and 1600s. They grazed sheep and cows and grew oat crops. Their agricultural living was subsidised by the spinning and handweaving of textiles. The plants that grew locally around would also supplement their needs, and we can imagine them cutting peat for fuel, gathering rushes for lighting and heather for thatch repairs.
In the 1790s, a second farm house was added to the site, along with four cottages lived in by weavers. As Haslingden Grane village developed, this little fold of farming villages lay a mere 300 yards from the centre. By the 1850s, there were three farmhouses. The first managed 15 acres and had three cottages and loom shops, the second had 10 acres and four cottages and loom shops, the third had 9 acres and two cottages and loom shops.
By 1881, a census shows that the loom shops were no longer in use, and two of the farmers had secondary occupations. John Lord’s other job was working as a clogger and William Greenwood worked as a quarryman. Each of the Greenwood children worked at Heap Cotton Mill when they were old enough, while his wife Betty ran the farm. By 1900, Hartley House had been abandoned as Bury Corporation bought the land for water catchment and, in the 1960s, most of the buildings were demolished. Today the ruins have been consolidated and interpretation boards put in place so that visitors might see the substantial set of remains and understand their various functions.
Follow the path to the farmstead of Lower Ormerods…
Lower Ormerods dates from the 1600s and was owned by the Ormerod family. As the wealthiest family in the area, they also had several other farms dotted about the valley. John, the last of the Ormerods to live there, sold the property in 1746 to move to the Isle of Man. In 1790, we know that the textile entrepreneur, Ellis Ratcliffe, (who was mentioned earlier as living in Grane village) bought the property and added a loom shop at the back of it.
The site was in the hands of the Kenyon family through much of the 1800s. The Kenyons were initially hand loom weavers, before moving on to work on the power looms at Heap Clough Mill. In 1871 the farm was a mere nine acres, and was owned by John Kenyon. His daughter Alice was the dairymaid, and five members of the family were working at Calf Hey Mill. By the late 1800s, Lower Ormerods was back to being purely an agricultural venture, with the west wing of the buildings being used as cow sheds and the loom shop at the back converted to pig sties. Eventually, the property and land succumbed to the coming of Ogden Reservoir, and the site was abandoned.
Fortunately, the ruins have been stabilised and interpretation has been put in place so that passerbys can understand the site. The blocks for the site were made from local Haslingden Flag Stone. The wall was double-skinned, meaning it had a course of stones on the outside and another on the inside and a layer of rubble in between them. The outer and inner facing sides were ‘dressed’, meaning they were chiselled to give a smoother finish. Larger ‘through-slabs’ would also be used, which stretched from the outer to the inner side of the wall to bond it together. A technique known as ‘water shotting’ was used to prevent wind-blown rain from getting through the outside of the wall and making the interior damp. This involved placing the external stones at an angle so that they sloped downwards and outwards, to enable the rain to run off.
Follow the path to the Grane Head gate posts…
Two gate posts are the only upstanding remains of Grane Head, home of George Duckworth. Before the Methodist chapel was constructed on Chapel Row, George held services here in his attic. The space was created by knocking the dividing walls down to provide one long room. George donated £200 for the new chapel to be constructed. As he was hard of hearing, he would go up into the pulpit during the sermon and sit with one hand by his ear, perhaps being granted this indulgence for his generous donation.
Follow the path further into the woods, to emerge in a field. Climb the hill to the substantial ruins of Top o’ th’ Knoll.
Top o’ th’ Knoll
Top o’ th’ Knoll was the residence of Andrew Scholes, known as the Grane Miser. His eccentric appearance included him wearing “short breeches… one of the legs of the breeches was a foot longer than the other…. his waistcoat buttoned from the middle to the top…one of the buttons at the back of his coat was higher up than the other one.”
Outside the house he had carved a poem on a slab which said:
Happy the man, the only happy man,
That out of choice, Doth all the good he can.
Who business leaves, And others better makes,
By the prudent industry, And the pains he takes.
While he lives he’s man’s esteem,
And when he dies his fame will follow him.
George was locally famous during his life time for one of his deeds. He built a cart in his back parlour, which was too large to fit through the doorway when it was finished. He refused to take it apart, or make the doorway wider, and instead leant it up against the inside wall for years. People would come to Top o’ th’ Knoll to look through the windows to view the cart.
You can retrace your steps back to the lower car park, or carry on past some smaller ruins to make a loop back.
Sites visited by A. Bowden and A. Shepherd 2019
Calf Hey car park – there is sometimes a small charge to park here. Next to the car park is part of the Methodist graveyard, and you can follow the above walk from here. Opening times are here.
Clough Head car park – this is a free car park. It is just a short walk from there to Calf Hey car park. Clough Head was the site of one of the Grane quarries. Today it is known for its small café and visitor centre, a welcome retreat for many walkers. Opening times are here.
Nearby, just a short drive away
The Church That Moved- St Stephen’s
Grane Revisited: Four Walks Around Haslingden Grane, Arthur Baldwin, David Dawson, David Openshaw, John Simpson (1991) Rossendale Heritage Network. This is an excellent publication and much of the information on this page is taken from it.
Abandoned Communities website: abandonedcommunities.co.uk/haslingdengrane.html
On site interpretation boards at Hartley House and Lower Ormerods West Pennine Moor Partnership
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