view from Top of All

Top of All Farm could not be better named. It stands as high as it gets on Inchfield Pasture, the last outpost of Walsden. For today's casual visitor, its setting is magnificent. There is nothing to see but wild countryside, hills rising from the plateau that is the moor, grass . and the inevitable sheep. For those who lived there it would have posed many a problem, and was only for the hardy.
It lies on an old track, probably originally nothing more than a path made by feet and horses hooves. About 1800, the Haigh family developed drift coalmines in the vicinity, and in order to carry the coal down to the valley bottom, a better road was needed. They built a stone track, which went past Top of All. It has never had a road as we know them today.

the road to Top of All


Nothing is known about its early days, but Rev. George Travis, Clerk Archdeacon of the Archdeaconry of Chester, owned the farm and land. It was a working farm in 1784, when the farmer was Isaac Howarth, who paid an annual land tax of 5s.8d.


The HAIGH FAMILY took over as primary tenants from about 1797. John Haigh and his wife Betty (Fielden) lived there first, leaving for pastures new in Middleton about 1809. The farm was then taken over by his younger brother Reuben and his first wife, Grace. They farmed there until moving half a mile along the track to High Wicken Farm in 1817 where they opened an alehouse and named it the MOORCOCK.


Top of All ruins in 2005

The Haighs continued to prosper, and in 1823, John Haigh of Pastureside, the father of John and Reuben, purchased Top of All Farm for £1400 from the current owner, John Travis. The sale included Top of All and neighbouring Vicarage Farm.

The following is the advertisement placed in the Leeds Mercury on Saturday July 20th 1822:


To be sold by private contract all those two tenements called Inchfield Pasture and the Vicarage, situate in the Township of Todmorden & Walsden, comprising TWO MESSUAGES OR DWELLING HOUSES AND THREE COTTAGES with the barn, stable and outbuildings, and several closes of land thereunto belonging, containing in the whole, by estimation, 165 acres of land, Lancashire Measurement, or thereabouts, be the same more or less, and now in the occupation of John Haigh or his undertenants, together with the extensive and valuable MINES OF COAL, lying being under the same estate.

The premises are tithe free and the land tax is redeemed. This estate is situate within 5 miles of the town of Rochdale and 2 miles from the populous village of Todmorden, and presents every prospect of an eligible investment of capital. For further particulars inquire of Mr. Radley, solicitor of Oldham, who is duly authorised to treat for the sale of the premises.


When John Haigh died in 1831, his sons inherited the farm between them.

Joseph Haigh, later known as Old Jose, was employed by the Haighs as their shepherd. He was a first cousin of John and Reuben. As was the norm in those days, the many sheep on the various Haigh farms on Inchfield Moor needed to be over wintered in a more sheltered spot. He would herd them by foot over the hills to the Clitheroe area in Lancashire, and Chipping in particular. In the spring, he would reverse his trip. Jose was widowed very early in his marriage, and with only one child who was probably cared for by family members, he enjoyed the freedom of shepherd's work. It is likely he lived at Top of All. He worked alongside Reuben's son, WILLIAM HAIGH KNOWN AS BUTTY, who was born at Top of All in 1813.
On one of his trips they engaged a shepherd from Chipping to help on the return journey. This man was James Blezzard. James liked what he saw on Inchfield Moor and brought over his family to settle at Top of All. James took over the job of shepherd for the Haighs and Old Jose retired to live at the Moorcock with his cousin Reuben.
In 1843, Top of All boasted 255 acres of land, but no farmer. The land survey shows the owners and occupiers to be brothers John and Reuben Haigh. However, John was now living in Middleton. Reuben Haigh seems to have been farming the land from his home at the nearby Moorcock.

Reuben died in 1857 from the effects of an epileptic fit, from which time his son John moved across the valley from WARLAND to take over at Top of All, remaining there until his untimely death in 1868. It was reported in the Leeds Mercury of Tuesday January 28th 1868 :

"On Sunday night, John Haigh of Top of All, Walsden, died in his chair whilst reading."

He was the last of the Haighs at Top of All until the end of the century, when his nephew Luke Haigh moved in. Luke was the son of Joseph Haigh of neighbouring BROWN ROADS FARM.

On 22nd August 1895, the Haigh family put Top of All Farm, together with the mines, minerals, lands, and buildings up for auction at the White Hart Inn. When the bidding reached £1050, the lot was withdrawn from the sale. Top of All was still standing in 1938, but sadly only ruins remain.