Lancaster nostalgia: Haylotts Farm

Haylotts Farm, Roeburndale, circa 1920. John Burrows with an excellent flock of Swaledale rams.
Haylotts Farm, Roeburndale, circa 1920. John Burrows with an excellent flock of Swaledale rams.

In a collection of farming memories Wray historian David Kenyon takes us on a journey through the Roeburndale West Valley to Back Farm. This week David looks at Haylotts Farm and Lower Salter.

Across the valley from Middle Salter is Haylotts Farm, tenanted by Fred and Barbara Harrison.

Many families have tenanted this farm over the years. In 1913 the tenant was Joshua Burrows. When he left the farm in 1920 and sold his livestock he had 55 cattle, four horses, 823 Swaledale sheep, two sheepdogs and three pups.

The Burrows used to take a cart to Caton railway station to collect coal. They needed the strength of two good horses to pull the heavy cart back up the steep hills to Haylotts Farm.

When the Burrows left the next tenant was Garnet Hall who seemed to have had a liking for other farmers’ poultry food.

Next came the Dawsons, followed by the Lowthers who had managed to buy the farm.

Next came Mr and Mrs Sinfield. When they retired in 1990 Fred and Barbara and their children, Graham and Michael, moved to Haylotts.

The farm of High Haylott, now a ruin a quarter of a mile up the fell, was once glebe land belonging to the church of Littledale. The land is now part of Haylotts Farm.

The Wray flood of August 8 1967 destroyed the bridge to the farm. This bridge always went by the name of Drunken Bridge.

The farm owners and Lancashire County Council could not agree on the position of a new bridge. Hence the temporary ford was still in existence until recently when a more permanent structure was built by The River Board.

Around half a mile down the Hornby road from Middle Salter is the farm of Lower Salter. In 1848 the farm was owned by Peter Skirrow. The Skirrows had been Quakers with several members of the family being imprisoned in Lancaster Castle for their beliefs.

The Skirrow family later became Methodists, holding meetings in their farmhouse for more than 50 years. The farm then passed to Peter’s son Frances (1844-1901) who, when he retired, left the farm to his nephew Isaac Atkinson. When Isaac retired his son Francis, wife Nellie, children Alan, Mabel, Johnny and Kenneth, ran the farm. It seems that Francis did not make much of a success at Lower Salter.

Around 1946 the farm was purchased by Ben Craven for £1,500. Jack Lord and his wife Hannah took the tenancy from Mr Craven in 1947, buying the farm for the princely sum of £3,000 in 1950.

The land is all good, sound pasture of around 150 acres. Jack kept a flock of 220 country bred sheep plus a herd of 20-25 Friesian milk cows. The milk was taken to the milk stand at the end of Thornbush Lane every morning.

Jack was hard working and a good stockman, always keeping things neat and tidy. Jack never learnt to drive, employing Jimmy Woodhouse to drive the tractor, a David Brown, purchased in the mid-1950s.

This was the end of the horse era. Son Dick said he was sad to see the faithful old horse sold.

The couple retired to Hornby in 1978 when their son Derek and wife Sheila took over the farm. Derek and Sheila had three children – Samuel, Davina and Reuben. Sadly Derek died in a car accident in 1991.

After his death Sheila ran the farm alone with help from friends and family. At the present time Sheila still farms Lower Salter with help from her sons Sam and Reuben. Daughter Davina with husband Jonathan live in a converted barn next door. Their children, Arthur and Ivy, are the fourth generation of the Lord family to live at Lower Salter.