The ‘Lost Farms’ consist of nearly 50 farm ruins, all traditional stone longhouses, originally built in the 17th and 18th centuries on Brinscall Moor. Ratten Clough is the most complete as it was the last to be abandoned.
Sarah Shorrock (aged 90) in 1929 outside Ratten Clough.
Ratten Clough is the most complete of the 48 ruins as it was occupied for the longest time – it wasn’t abandoned until 1960 (only 3 farms were still occupied in 1945).
The original barn (built in the 1700s) has been doubled in size and 2 extensions added. Initially it was just a 2 bay length barn with a small single bay domestic end, 6m squared, one up one down, but by the 1870s it looked as it does in this photo. At the west end of the building is a sheep dip trough and an outside loo.
The smallholding was 19 acres. In the 1840s & 50s it was run by a distinctive trio – 2 brothers and a sister (Richard 57, James 65 and Nancy 61) with no children.
In 1891 it was the home of William Catlow (25), the head of large household, who was both a moorland farmer and a general labourer at the Print works in the village. He married Margaret (28) and had 4 children. They also had a 16 year old live in nurse/servant. No wonder William did 2 jobs!
In 1929 it was occupied by the formidable Sarah Shorrock (90 years old).
Listen to interviews
Fred Mayor was the last inhabitant of the farm. He did not leave until 16th June 1960. He moved into a cottage near the quarry entrance. Ratten Clough was still a working sheep farm in the 1950s. Peter, Ben & Harold Mayor and Vera Mayor worked the farm. Vera never actually lived at Ratten clough but she helped her father and uncles with the sheep. You can hear Vera talking about some of her memories in the clip from BBC Countryfile below, which first aired in April 2012.
Thank you to Carnegie Publishing for permission to use the photos from David Clayton’s book ‘The Lost Farms of Brinscall Moors’.
The Mayor family in the 1930s and 50s – sheep farming at Ratten Clough
This project was largely inspired by David Clayton’s book, ‘The Lost Farms of Brinscall Moors’, which is available from Carnegie Publishing: https://www.carnegiepublishing.co.uk/product/lost-farms-of-brinscall-moors/
The book contains a wealth of information on all the farms which has not been covered here, as we have focused on the farms for which we could find oral histories. If you would like to find out more, please do buy a copy of the book!
BBC – Countryfile season 23 episode 5, first aired 12th April 2012
Thank you to Carnegie publishing for permission to use photographs from David Clayton’s book, ‘The Lost Farms of Brinscall Moors’ and to Jed, creator of the www.white-coppice.co.uk pages who took many of the photos of the farms in modern times and to the many people who shared memories and photos. In particular Barbara Butler (Richard Robinson’s granddaughter), David Fairclough (who has compiled an extensive collection of historic photos) and Linda Fonseka (descendent of Elizabeth Dixon).