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Links to the Farms

Aincross Farm  
Bay Horse Farm Manor House Farm
Blacklow Farm Master Barn Farm
Cowhill Farm Middle Mickle Hey Farm
Cut Farm Moorside Farm
Dunscar Farm Moss farm
Eachill Farm Mother Red Cap Farm
Far Holme New Barn Farm
Height House Farm Norden Farm
  North Mickyhey Farm
Higher Sidebeet Farm Parkers Farm
Higher Whitebirk Farm Rose Cottage
Higher Whitebirk Moss Shear Brook
Holt Farm Sidebeet Farm
Lords House Farm Tan House Farm
Lower Cunliffe Farm Tottleworth Lee
  Upper Mickle Hey
Lower Hen Moss Whitebirk South Farm
Lower Sidebeet Farm Willis Farm
Lower Whitebirk Windy Bank Farm

Also Dry Stone Walling and Hedging.

Before the Norman Conquest, when the Saxons settled in Rishton, there is evidence of a little agriculture, especially in names the Saxons gave to districts. Cowhill was the hill on which the village cows were grazed for example.

During the first 6 centuries after the Norman Conquest, there was unlimited scope for land reclamation schemes in North East Lancashire and Rishton was no exception to the general practice.

“In 1284 Adam, son of Rishton De Cowhill complained that Gilbert De Rishton disposed him of his common pasture at Cowhill”.

Agriculture in medieval Rishton seems to have been mostly confined to the Holt area. The arable or ploughed land was divided into strips as in Saxon days, and some of the few freemen who lived on the estate had five strips, others more.

During the early Eighteenth century most of the original oak woods were cleared, and most covered soil was turned to cultivation. A typical farm stock of this period consisted of: -

6 bullocks    6 Cows

2 heifers    8 calves

1 bull    8 twinters (cows of 2 years)

7 horses


It was the early farming community that formed the nucleus from which Rishton developed. The conditions that faced farmers were hard, but not as harsh as those of the farmers on the surrounding moorlands. Never the less soils are thin and acidic, there is a short growing season, frequent frosts and low temperatures with little sunshine.

The 17th Century was a golden age for the small working farmer, they received encouragement to use new ideas introduced from abroad, and wool was required in great quantities in Halifax, Leeds, and Huddersfield, and it was common at this time to se a thousand horse packs of such goods from this side of the county. Village yeomen were prosperous during this century, and led to a more ambitious style of living for them.

During the month a considerable quantity of food stocks had been condemned, it was reported on the 13th March 1952. An outbreak of swine fever had been reported from a local farm, and a total of 20 pigs had been slaughtered, 11 on the farm and 9 at the Blackburn Abattoirs. An inspection of the pigs slaughtered locally revealed that the offal was unfit for consumption, but the carcases were sound.

Agriculture in 1966

The landowners in Rishton were the Dunkenhalgh estate and all the farms were tenant farmed. Some of the smaller farm tenants have been given the opportunity of buying the farms, but the price was to high.

The farms vary in size from 20 acres to 120 acres and there was no arable farming. The boulder clay content of the soil makes ploughing unprofitable. During the Second World War, the Rishton farmers were compelled to plough their land, and they grew mainly oats, a little wheat, Swedes and turnips.

The growing season is short and there are frequent frosts, but more important is the acidic nature of the soil that makes constant liming necessary. There is also considerable atmospheric pollution from the power station at Whitebirk.

George Lucus working the fields in 1938

All the farms have a dairy bias, the greatest percentage held of the herds are Frisians with some Ayrshire’s, though one farmer had a jersey herd. According to the size of the farm, the number of milking cows varies from 6 to 30. All the milk in Rishton is now Tuberculin tested. None of the farmers make silage, and they feed their cows from their own hay, buying concentrates and other foodstuffs from large concerns. They find this more economical than growing their own animal feeding stuffs. Most of the milk is collected by the milk marketing board lorries and taken to the dairies at Blackburn. However, all the farmers bottle by machine a certain percentage of their milk for retail in Rishton. Only two farmers deliver their milk by horse and float, the rest have land rovers and trailers.

Two farmers keep pigs – large whites, which are long lean pigs. Poultry consists of Black and white leghorns crossed with Rhode Island reds or white leghorn and is not restricted to farms. Many small allotment holders also keep poultry.

A few sheep are kept on the dual slopes of Top O’ th’ Heights and Cowhill. They are half-breeds, the dominant strains being Wensleydale, Suffolk, and Swaledale. They are sold mainly for meat at the Haslingden market and in June each year a certain amount of clip is sent to the Bradford wool auction and bought by the Scottish – English wool board.

All the farms are mechanised and are family concerns employing perhaps one regular farm labourer and hiring about two temporary helps at hay making time.


A North East Lancashire Cotton Town - Marian Sleigh.