Perched high on Inchfield stand two separate farms, Higher Dyches and Dyches, later known as Lower Dyches. Lower Dyches appears to be the earlier of the two.

Higher Dyches

Higher Dyches sits on the edge of the moor at the very end of the unmade road that services the Inchfield farms. Beyond that is the old packhorse track that leads over the moor to Moorcock, Vicarage, Top of All and beyond to Hades. One side faces an old reservoir, which is now empty.
Lower Dyches is at the end of a long, straight track that leads off the unmade road, lying in a hollow between the moor and Ramsden. It is possibly nearer to Ramsden North farm than it is to Higher Dyches.

Lower Dyches

Lower Dyches is very ancient. It first gets a mention in the parish registers in 1669 when “a little infant of Anthony Crossley of Dyches” was buried. Later entries show that in 1688 Susan Roberts was born there, in 1707 Sarah Rhodes was born there, and in 1715, Mary daughter of Henry Halliwell, yeoman of Ditches, was baptised. It is 1800 before Upper Ditches gets a mention.

Lower Dyches

Samuel Cudworth, possibly a native of Spotland, settled at Dyches with his wife Elizabeth in the late 1700's. In 1784 he was paying land tax of 7 shillings, which had reduced to 6s.3d by 1794.

The surrounding farms were, at that time, a stronghold of the Jackson family, and Samuel's three children married Jacksons. Joshua Cudworth married Amelia Jackson of the neighbouring Potoven farm, and Ann Cudworth married Abraham Jackson. This saw the coming together of the two families that dominated Dyches for many years to come.
Joshua Cudworth and Amelia took over the farming at Dyches after his father died, and sister Ann and her husband Abraham Jackson took on the new Higher Dyches farm after a cousin, Thomas Jackson, vacated. Each farm had one attached cottage, which became the homes of various relatives. Thomas Jackson's daughter, Alice, and her husband Richard Pearson lived in the cottage at Higher Dyches from 1815 to after 1822. Richard was a banksman at the nearby coal mine.

Higher Dyches

By 1826, Joshua Cudworth was paying rent of 6s 9d to a William Crossley for his tenement at Dyches, and Abraham Jackson was paying rent of 6s. to a Mr. Hardman for his farm at Higher Dyches.

Lower Dyches

Abraham Jackson died in 1833, leaving Higher Dyches to his wife, Ann. Despite her age of 72, she was still recorded as the farmer in 1841. Joshua Cudworth died in 1838 and his family left the area. That is apart from his son Samuel, who continued to live at Lower Dyches with the new farmer, working as a labourer.

The new farmer at Lower Dyches was William Crowther. He married a distant cousin Grace Haigh in 1835. In 1837, he fathered a son by Betty Crabtree. However, he and Grace continued at Dyches until she died in 1856. He then married Betty, mother of his natural son, John Crabtree. He continued at Lower Dyches until his death in 1877. Meanwhile, at Higher Dyches, the Jacksons continued to rule.


Higher Dyches


1883 saw a massive change to the scenery at both the Dyches farms. Although the farmhouses survived, much of the land was sold off to a newly formed company, known as Todmorden Water Works Company. Despite it name, this was a private concern owned by shareholders and run by a Board of Directors. There was no municipal water supply and people used wells and springs for their water. This company built a reservoir on the land immediately adjacent to the two Dyches farms, providing a different view for the residents.

The ceremony of “cutting the first sod” was performed on site on 10th May 1883, and the next 5 years saw the emergence of the water works. It became known as Ramsden Clough Reservoir. The Local Board of Todmorden spent the next 15 years wondering whether to buy out the private company, and when they eventually made the decision to acquire the water works and reservoir, it was too late. In December 1898, Rochdale Corporation stepped in and bought it for the people of Rochdale. As Todmorden did not have a safe public water supply, it was agreed with Rochdale that the people of Todmorden and Walsden could be supplied with water from Ramsden Clough pending the construction of their own reservoir a few years later at Gorpley.

It was described as a reservoir with running water, a mire, broad leaf woodland and acid grassland. Yorkshire Water Authority used the reservoir, area 1.5 acres, as a water collection and storage reservoir for Calderdale. There was a year round fishery there, plus a small picnic site.
A few years ago the reservoir was de-commissioned due to too much peat in the water. It was drained and left an empty, muddy mess, a blot on the landscape. Attempts were made to landscape the mess, and the area was sprayed with wild flower seeds.

By 1891, the occupier of Higher Dyches was incomer John Williams, employed as caretaker of the adjacent water works. By 1901, both farms were the homes of “excavator navvies”, presumably employed by the water company. There were no longer any farmers at Dyches.