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Sunday, 28 January 2018

Horrobin Fold Farm

1901 at Horrobin Fold Farm

My great-grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Davies, (on the extreme left) was an assistant teacher at Hoghton School from 1881 - 1885.  In  1888 she married Thomas Miller-Crook of Horrobin Fold Farm, Riley Green.
Photo circa 1901. Left to right, Mary Elizabeth, Anne, Great Grandfather Thomas with little May, Ralph (standing), my Grandfather Thomas, his sister Rachael (sitting on the ground),  - behind her, I presume, Great Great Grandma Sarah. Sarah born 1842, was married aged 17, and had fourteen children, Thomas being the eldest.

Old Horrobin Fold Farmhouse (2008) 

Horrobin Fold Farm is now in a derelict state. It is located behind the present Horrobin Farm which is on Bolton Road at Riley Green, Hoghton.

My Great Great Grandfather Ralph was born at Brimmicroft Farm in 1838. His father Thomas (born 1798) had founded the Boatyard at Riley Green.  After finishing school Ralph  began work there as an apprentice boatbuilder. In 1859, he married Sarah Elizabeth Bickerstaffe, of Pleasington, Blackburn.   After their marriage they lived at Horrobin Fold.  When Ralph's father Thomas died in 1864 (aged 66), Ralph took over the running of the boatyard and coal wharf and the business prospered.   Ralph was involved in the building of a completely new farm and outbuildings nearer the roadside and the new farm was named Horrobin.

Horrobin Farm, Bolton Road circa 1900

   As it was built with the aid of the De Hoghton estate workers an agreement was passed that  Ralph could live there for his lifetime rent free while he farmed the land and ran the coal wharf and boatyard.  After his death the farmhouse would become the sole property of the De Hoghton Estate. In 1881 Ralph was employing 12 men at the boatyard, sawmill and coal wharf and farming 27 acres.

Great  Great Grandfather's five sisters circa 1900

Sarah Rachael b 1862 (38),
Nancy b 1864 (36)
Jane b 1877 (23)
Maud b 1879 (21)
May b 1882 (18)

Of the nine brothers, two died in infancy but unfortunately I have only two photos, one of my direct ancestor Thomas, and one of Eli, (born 1866) the fourth child.

Thomas Miller-Crook (born 1860)

 Ralph had many children with Sarah, fourteen in total, twelve surviving into adulthood of which Thomas, the eldest born 1860, was my Great Grandfather (see above photo).  Sarah effectively, had a child every two years' from the age of 18!

The photo below is Eli, Thomas' younger brother. He was born in 1866. It seems he got into some trouble as a young man, hitting a policeman, which in the 1880's,  was a very serious offence indeed. The story goes, that his father paid for his passage to Australia and he wasn't heard of again!  However, we think possibly he went to New Zealand instead, as I found his name on a passenger list to Auckland on the Arawa. In the photo below he is wearing a bush hat and unknown army uniform.  My Uncle has done some research which has proved inconclusive, for the uniform. Perhaps he fought in the Boer war, but this cannot be confirmed.  In later years we did find trace of a Harry Miller-Crook (abode New Zealand), could this have been his son?

Eli (born 1866), fourth son of Ralph

Two of Ralph's son's, James aged 32 and John aged 28 formed the partnership J & J Crook to continue the boatyard and coal wharf. (See separate post The Boatyard)

Ralph retired from work in 1903, aged 65, dying at Horrobin Farm 17th August 1908, aged 70. His widow, Sarah, moved to  a cottage at Brimmicroft, where she died ten years later, on the 19th April 1918, aged 76 years.

Horrobin Farm 2008

All photos courtesy of Herbert Miller-Crook.

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