Midhopestones, Langsett & Outlying Areas
The Midhopestones Area
Leaving Stocksbridge and travelling west on the A616 road we pass the Underbank reservoir on the left and Sheephouse wood on the right, then turning left at the next crossroads; we arrive at the small village of Midhopestones.
Surrounded by beautiful moorland and wooded areas, it is hard to imagine that this was once a centre of pottery production in the area.
An account of the origins and development of the production of ceramic items is described by Joseph Kenworthy in his handbook titled The Broken Earthenware of Midhope Potteries.
The earliest known records of Midhopestones or "Midhope" as it known locally, reach back to the reigns of Henry III and Richard I, when there was a charter of agreement, dated at 1227, between John de Midhope and Hyldenus Waldershelf.
A review of the history of the village of Midhopestones and the surrounding area can be found in this article by Jack Branston titled Little Rustic Chapel of Nether-Midhope.
In times past Midhopestones Church must have had the appearance of a Shepherds' Chapel. The pulpit is a charming piece of craftsmanship and dates from the English Renaissance period of 1590 to 1640.
The present day villages of Midhopestones and Upper Midhope are farming communities, as they have been for many a long year.
The following photographs show Lawson's' farm and Manor farm in and around the village of Upper Midhope, and include also images of Dykeside farm.
Dykeside farm has long since disappeared from view, as a result of the flooding of the Underbank reservoir in 1907.
Some of the buildings in the village have been modernised, one of them being the local public house formally known as the "Club Inn", and earlier still "The Barrel", it is now called "Ye Olde Mustard Pot".
In the space of two hundred years this building has develop from a beer-house to a prestigious restaurant.
The Rose and Crown public house on the junction of the A616 and Mortimer Road was built by William Payne (1760-1831) when he was Lord of the Manor of Langsett, it closed as a half-way house on 29th May in 1876, the building has since been converted in to private dwellings.
Mortimer Road was named after Hans Winthrop Mortimer of Caldwell Hall in Derbyshire, Lord of the Manor of Bamford and Member of Parliament for Shaftesbury he died in 1807 in poor circumstances having previously disposed of his Bamford Estate.
You can read all about the development of Mortimer Road from an old Trade Route in to its present form in our "Highways and Byways" feature.
Jack Branston in a two part article published in the Fox Magazines gives his account of the development of Midhope, the context of which is derived from published literature and discussions with local residents.
Thankfully, the village of Midhopestones manages to maintain links with its past, some of which are celebrated in annual local gatherings.
Here we have some upto date photographs of some of the afore mentioned buildings taken in 2011.
Just a passing thought is that, although Midhopestones is surrounded by three reservoirs namely, Underbank, Midhope and Langsett, according to the writings of Jack Branston, the residents had no piped water supply to their homes until the middle of the 1930s.
The Langsett Area
A mile or so further west, we arrive at the tiny village of Langsett. The Wagon and Horses public house, also built by William Payne, is dominant on the left, of what is now a busy road between the cities of Sheffield and Manchester.
What a welcome sight this "watering hole" must have been to travellers in bygone days, especially in the winter months, with snow thick on the ground.
Believed to have been built in 1809 the Waggon continues to be a thriving Public House and has been run by the Batty family for some thirty years.
It is also still known locally as "Billy Greens" after a previous landlord from many years ago.
This article about the Waggon & Horses appeared in the Barnsley Chronicle in April of 1997.
According to Joseph Kenworthy the making of the Turnpike road in 1805 displaced an old road that came up Langsett Lane and found its way along Langsett Bank in the direction of Boardhill.
The construction of the new road necessitated the taking down of an older Langsett Inn that stood by the side of the older road, to the west of the present Inn.
The Inn of to-day was built on ground once occupied by Jinny-Sheds, an appellation that corresponds with the name Gin-House applied to Well House.
The third of the photographs above shows Stanley House on the left, the White House in the centre and the Waggon & Horses old harness room on the left, all situated around the old village green.
Stanley House has recently been converted into a Holiday Cottage and along with the Waggon & Horses is run as part of the Batty family business.
Set at the foot of the Langsett Moors, this location is beautiful at any time of the year, but can still become somewhat isolated when winter descends.
The name Langsett is believed to have evolved from the old name of the area "Langside" meaning a long slope.
We return yet again to the works of Joseph Kenworthy in another of his Handbooks on local history his Handbook Number 16 published in 1915, describes much of the past of this village and the surrounding area.
The Langsett of the past had its own railway, as did Ewden, both of which developed as a requirement of the construction of the reservoirs.
More information can be found about the Ewden, Stocksbridge and Langsett Railway Companies in other sections of this website.
The reservoirs were built to serve the ever increasing populations of the local area and cities and towns such as Sheffield and Barnsley.
An article entitled Closing the Valves was published in a "Paragon" newsletter of 1969.
This Article published in the Wood's Penistone Almanack of 1905 describes many of the Civil aspects of the Works including the tunnels the hydraulic systems and much more.
A village was built to house the construction workers employed in the building of the reservoirs.
These photographs show some of the living quarters, the workers and the construction work that went in to the building of the Langsett reservoir.
And here with a lot of help from Nature is what they achieved, this view taken in 2011, is of Langsett reservoir taken from the moors on the path leading towards Cut Gate.
Langsett is set on the edge of the Peak National Park Langsett, and there is an active Ranger and Information Centre located at the edge of the village.
The Information Centre was converted from an old timber framed cruck barn and there is a date stone displaying the year 1621 built into the gable end.
The surrounding countryside, made up mainly of moorland, farmland and woodland, act as a "magnet" for serious walkers, and for those who just wish to take a stroll around this magnificent location.
Here we have two pictures of the ruins of an abandoned farm house at North America on the Langsett Moors.
The farm was used for target practice by troops training for the D-Day landings in 1944 during the Second World War.
The track leading up from the reservoir (Thickwoods Lane) was reinforced during the war to accommodate tanks using the area for Army training.
The brick rubble from which the track is made came from houses in Sheffield which were destroyed when the City was attacked earlier in the war.
Whilst we are discussing subjects relating to World War II this next photograph shows the remains of an American built installation at Gill Royd Lane, part of the back road leading from Upper Midhope to the junction with Mortimer Road.
The pits were used for the maintenance of American Tanks belonging to the units that were stationed in the area at that time.
Also during the Second World War, this area further across the Moors was used by American Servicemen as a training area in preparation for the D-day landings in 1944.
The brick outlines are the remnants of winch houses which were used to move targets across these shooting ranges.
The targets, known as hornets, resembled tanks and were made from wood and canvas.
The main tank used on the ranges was the American "Sherman" which fired mainly 20lb., 75 mm solid shot.
Details of a walk which describes where to locate these remains can be found on this page of the stocksbridge Walkers are Welcome website.
The following extract about the long ago demolished building of Swinden Lodge, is taken from Joseph Kenworthy’s handbook The Lure of Midhope-cum-Langsett also in the book Jos eph describes other buildings around the Midhope and Langsett areas which have long since disapeared.
“This ancient home is a wonderful product of the design and skill of a local master-mason or carpenter. The front faces south and the portion on the east dates from about 1570 and thus older than on the west side, which is dated J.H.1641. It is probable that these initials refer to John Haigh of Midhope, whose earthly vesture was interred at Bradfield in 1645. He left a piece of land called The Royd in Langsett towards the maintenance of a preaching minister at Midhope Chapel. There were also Haighs at Alderman’s Head. The fenestration details of Swinden Hall are most effective. The hood-moulds are of great merit and the labels or pendants are of excellent design. Indeed the gathering-in of the drip-stones into a flat-topped loop on the west, and a triple loop on the east, with spaces for inscriptions, is a charming piece of diversity quite consistent with the cannons of beauty. Swinden Walls sad to say, is in a ruinous condition. John Shaw, veterinary surgeon, lived here in 1647, and brewed good ale, in the days when the Puritan-Parliamentary Captain Adam Eyre, lived at Hazlehead Hall, and with other friends, came here to be merry and give the proceeds of The Ale to a poor neighbour needing help”.
Also in this area were the remains of the Farmhouse at Swinden Langsett to the east of the original site of the Lodge.
Now in 2010 only the right hand section of the buildings survive as a working barn.
Before we leave on our way west, take a moment to look at these remaining photographs of Langsett and the surrounding area.
The Flouch Area
Continuing west on the A616 we reach the Flouch roundabout at the junction with the A628.
In recent years a new interchange has been constructed to the east of the old road.
The original A628 passed alongside the old Flouch Inn which was originally named the New Inn and functioned as a Coaching House; here the coaches changed horses before the onward journey to cities such as Manchester and other northern towns.
As can be seen in the last two of these photographs, the Inn has been converted into a very nice private dwelling.
Joseph Kenworthy wrote the following about the Flouch Inn “This hostelry, which stands at the junction where the Wadsley, Langsett and Sheffield Turnpike crosses the Doncaster and Salter’s Brook Turnpike,above Langsett, was originally known as “The New Inn”, and its erection was brought about by the increased traffic that was passing over the Wadsley, Langsett and Sheffield Trust road, before the M.S.and L. Railway was opened in 1815.
The building stood in a partly finished state for some years until 1827,when it was completed and opened as a place of rest and refreshment for man and beast.
George Hayward built the house upon a piece of land he had purchased from Pemberton Mimes, and occupied the place as landlord in a double sense.
He had a deformity known as a ‘slouch-lip,’ and was nick-named ‘Slouch’ in consequence. This, so the old folks asserted, became changed in some way to ‘Flouch,’ hence the name.
I question such an origin, however, and much prefer the explanation put forward by my friend, Mr. S. O. Addy, M.A., in his ‘Supplement to the Sheffield Glossary,’ published in 1891, to the effect that ‘flouch’ is derived from Anglo-Saxon ‘floh’ meaning a fragment, a piece, which may be compared to ‘snaith’ or ‘snaithing,’ meaning a piece cut off.
‘Floh’ would become ‘flouch’ in modern English, and my readers must not overlook the fact that the inn in question was erected on a plot of ground cut out of an allotment".
The following photographs are of the the Flouch Hotel taken in 2011, it is situated on the opposite side of the junction to what was the Old Flouch Inn. Such a magnificent building in a very pleasant location deserves better.
This building has been used for many diverse purposes since it ceased to function as a Hotel.
Taking these recent photographs has brought back memories of a childhood when with other members of the family we caught the Green and White bus on its way from Deepcar to its destination at Huddersfield, getting off at the Flouch.
There were many events held in the field to the rear of this building, events such as Knur and Spell competitions, and many other types of recreational pursuits.
Being so far from any centre of population, perhaps holding events such as these was a means of encouraging customers to visit the public bar and spend some money.
One such recollection of an event which comes to mind, was a competition between a Boxer and a Wrestler presumably to ascertain who was the most skilful.
Even as a young teenager it seemed such a bizarre spectacle, and the result was far from conclusive.
It is sad to see such a magnificent building in a pleasant location such as this, in such a sorry state, it deserves far better.
Do you have memories of the Flouch Hotel?
If so let us know.
Taking the A628 at the Flouch roundabout we head west towards the Woodhead pass.
What is now the A628 was originally constructed between 1732 to 1741 as part of the Turnpike Road conecting Rotherham with Manchester, replacing parts of the old Trade route (Salt route) which connected the towns of Lancashire and Cheshire with Yorkshire towns and cities.
Probably one of the most well-known places that we pass along this stretch is the Dog & Partridge public house.
An Ordnance Survey map dated 1850 shows the name of this property as the Border Hill House.
South of the Dog & Partridge high on the Langsett moors can be found the Hordron shooting cabins.
Much of the district lies on the edge of extensive privately owned moorland.
After 1832 the "Game Laws" gave land owners power over the game on their land as opposed to it being under the control of the Lord of the Manor.
The Bradfield Game Association was formed around this time and the local moors were kept well stocked with red grouse.
Shooting is still an important source of income for the Land Owners of the area.
Continuing along the A628 and leaving the "Dog" behind we continue the ascent over Fiddlers Green and arrive at Saltersbrook.
Apart from the traffic that crosses the Pennines, using this moorland road, the only things that move up here are the sheep and the ramblers, and at times of heavy snow fall this route is the first to be closed to traffic.
It is hard to believe that what once was a small community could have supported, what appears from the photographs to have been a thriving public house the Miller's Arms a regular meeting place of the Shepherds Society as can be seen from the first of the photographs below taken in 1907.
Perhaps some trade came from the workers on the Woodhead reservoirs which were constructed in the mid-nineteenth century.
Notice the word "Porter" in the sign over the door of the Pub in the first photograph the writer found this curious so here is an explanation.
We belive there was a public house known as the "Plough and Harrow" located at Fiddlers Green, very few details remain about this pub so we would like to know more about it and the origins of the unusual name of Fiddlers Green.
The Society has recently come across an old newspaper cutting which explains some of the history of the location of the Plough & Harrow at Fiddlers Green.
This is as far West as we go, not only as we are at the very outskirts of what can loosely be described as the "Stocksbridge and District", but to go further could cause a second "War of the Roses", but that's another story.
The Old Salt Route between Cheshire and South Yorkshire enters our district here at Saltersbrook.
Why not check out our "Feature" on the "Highways and Byways" of the district to learn more about this ancient route.