A story of canals and beer


Moorhey Farm

Zachariah Jackson's story begins at MOORHEY FARM, Walsden in 1816, one of the sons of Thomas and Betty Jackson. Moorhey is a farm high above the Walsden valley bottom on the old packhorse road over to Littleborough.

His father earned his living a stone worker and he and his wife managed to raise seven sons to adulthood. Most followed into quarry work like their father or went to work in the cotton mills.



Zachariah grew up at Moorhey with his siblings, and they all no doubt got up to trouble and pranks with the children from the neighbouring farms such as ALLESCHOLES, White Slack and Reddyshore.

After Zachariah had sewn a few youthful wild oats, he left the hill top farm and by the mid 1830's had moved down to Lanebottom.

Here life was different, as he was working and earning a living for himself in a completely different environment to life on the farm. The nearest distraction after work was the SUN INN where he would no doubt have spent some of his leisure time with his mates taking in a few drinks and engaging in banter with the landlord, Ogden Mitchell.

Lanebottom, by kind permission of Roger Birch


Sun Inn

Zachariah fell for the charms of the landlord's daughter, Susan Mitchell, and in 1838 they were married. Susan's family were well known in the licensing trade. Her father, Ogden Mitchell, as stated, was landlord of the SUN INN and her grandfather John Mitchell had also been an innkeeper.

Her uncle, Martin Mitchell was landlord of the old White Lion, known as the GUERNING DOG and he later built the GREYHOUND INN at Wadsworth Mill, and at one point kept the new WHITE LION, also at Wadsworth Mill. Her brother Ogden also followed the family trade and became licensee of the Waggon and Horses Inn at Walsden for many years.

Zachariah and Susan were also to create many links through their own children, to other pubs in the area, but more of that later.

The newly wed Zachariah and Susan set up home at Lanebottom with Zachariah working as a labourer. A daughter Betty soon came along and in the mid 1840's, with a growing family, Zachariah got a job as a lock keeper. They lived at Lanebottom in Walsden and his job would have entailed looking after the locks along the stretch of the Rochdale canal in that area, Lightbank, Sands and Bottomley.

Lightbank Lock is conveniently situated just across the field from the Sun Inn, handy for a visit to the in laws.

Lightbank Lock with the Sun Inn beyond


The family had increased to six when Zachariah and Susan moved to Longlees or East Summit lock as it is sometimes called, where he and his family lived in the lock house and he supervised the working of this busy lock.


Longlees Lock House

For a time in the 1850's he left the area to go to Manchester but came back to live at Lanebottom still as a lock keeper and later went back to Longlees where he and his family again lived in the lock house and continued to do so for many years to come. He may have found Manchester a bit overpowering and missed his home in Walsden, where he had grown up, knew everybody and everybody knew him. Whatever the reason, he and Susan never left again.

Longlees would have been a busy area with local quarries and mills situated close by, all needing the use of the canal. Boats from Manchester bringing raw cotton for the mills would pass through the locks and Zachariah, along with his helpers would have been kept busy.

Besides making sure that the boats used the lock economically, he would also have to make sure they complied with the weight restrictions. The maintenance of the lock, greasing the mechanism, and making sure everything was working as it should, would have to be done at quiet times, so the job would have gone on well into the evening with no let up on the weekends or holidays.

Today the job of lock keeper is much the same and some of the qualities required are a good level of stamina and fitness, practical skills and a responsible attitude to health and safety. The health and safety issue wasn't one which our forebears took very seriously, judging by the amount of deaths and accidents on the canals at that time, but the main job description is much the same.

By 1861 he and Susan had produced twelve children, of whom eleven survived to adulthood. Not a bad feat in those days. Tragedy was never far away though, and it came when Susan died in the May of 1861, leaving Zachariah with the children. Seven of them were working, even the young 9 year old Ellen. The rest were at school and the youngest, some kind neighbour would no doubt have been looking after Martin at 10 months old until the older children took over, when they returned from work.

One daughter, Susannah, who would have been 3 at the time, was not with the family and she may have been with relatives in order to lighten the load a little, until she was old enough to go to school.


With so many children at home, Zachariah needed a bit of help and it arrived in the shape of widow Mary Nuttall. Mary was an Ashworth, one of the Ashworth family of butchers who traded at Guerning Dog Bridge. She had been married to Edmund Nuttall and was in her 40's when she married Zachariah in 1864. But happiness wasn't to last long as she died soon after their marriage, in 1865.


So Zachariah was again left on his own. He carried on living at the lock house at Longlees and doing his job as lock keeper. He obviously did a good job as he had been in the same employment for nearly 30 years when he died in 1880. He was buried at St. Peter's, Walsden with his daughter Mally Greenwood and her family and his son Martin took over his job at Longlees as lock keeper.

Zachariah and Susan's children grew up in the WARLAND area and you can read more about this small community. Some of their children followed on in one or other of the professions associated with the family and are worth a mention.

Betty 1841-1903

Betty married Robert Fielden, a local lad and they went to live at Allescholes before they took over the licence of the BIRD IN HAND at Warland.

Ogden 1843-1909


Bottoms about 1920, by kind permission of Roger Birch

Ogden was named after his mother's father and brother, and he married Nancy Greenwood of Square. They started out their married life at Bottoms in Walsden, with Ogden working as a weaver in the mill.
This was all to change when Ogden got a job with the Rochdale Canal Company and became a lock keeper like his father. Early in 1881, just after the baptism of their daughter Susan, he and his family of four young children moved to Slattocks on the Rochdale Canal.

Slattocks Lock House


Slattocks Locks

Here he would have had the management of the six locks that make up the Slattocks flight. A busy area and it would have kept him on the go all day and well into the night. Part of the flight can be seen here.


His job with the Rochdale Canal Company meant that he moved around quite a bit and they later went to live at Hollingworth Road in Littleborough where he worked as a waterman on one of the canal company's barges. He continued working for the company and was later working at Hollingworth Lake reservoir and living nearby at Bear Hill Street where a pumping station was situated.

Hollingworth Lake reservoir had been built when the Rochdale Canal was constructed and supplied water for the canal. The pumping station at Bear Hill used to pump water from the reservoir by means of steam power.

Old Engine House at Bear Hill in 1910. Sketch by courtesy of Touchstones, Rochdale

The water would then be fed into a channel that ran up to Summit. The pumping station fell into disuse and was demolished in 1910 but the remains can still be seen today.

Ogden died in 1909 and was buried in his home village of Walsden at St. Peter's Church.

Mally 1844-1897

Mally married Joseph Hollinrake in 1874 and they went to live near Hollingworth Lake and worked in a cotton mill. Joseph died after only 5 years of marriage and Mally continued to live in Littleborough. They had one daughter Sarah Anne who died in 1877 aged 3, leaving Mally entirely on her own at just 33. She moved back to Walsden and in 1883 married Daniel Greenwood whose father kept the WOODCOCK INN. Later she and Daniel took over at the Sun Inn, which Mally's grandfather, Ogden Mitchell, had kept in earlier times and where her mother and father had met and fallen in love.

Alice 1846-1880

Alice carried on the pub tradition by marrying her childhood sweetheart, Michael Uttley, who she grew up with at Longlees. They started out their married life farming there and left to became the licensees of the ROSE AND CROWN at Castle, Todmorden. Their son Herbert was to become the landlord of the Hollins Inn at Walsden for many years and daughter Annetta stayed at the Rose and Crown after her father had died.


Martin 1860-1917


Top Brink

Martin became involved in both family occupations. He helped his father with the work of the Longlees lock and took over as lock keeper after his father died. He married Alice Bulcock in 1883 and they moved from the canal to take over the licence of the TOP BRINK at Lumbutts.

Later still, they left the Top Brink, moved back to Warland and lived with his sister Betty at the Bird in Hand. Martin went back to work as a boatman on the canal and after his sister Betty had died he took over the running of the pub. He was the landlord when he died in 1917 and his widow Alice then married Fred Fielden and stayed on as the landlady of the Bird in Hand.

Quite a remarkable family, with its beginnings high on a farm overlooking the Walsden valley in the early 19th century and going on to establish a line with connections to several of the pubs in the area as well as keeping up the tradition of work on the canals through to the 20th century, in an unbroken sequence of over 50 years.


Our grateful thanks to Touchstones, Rochdale, for their kind permission to use the sketch of Bear Hill Engine House.