What it means

The lease between the landowner James Lomax of Clayton Hall and John Mercer and Richard Clayton Mercer cotton manufacturers of Oakenshaw (sons of John Mercer the chemist) and Joseph Haydock spirit merchant of Blackburn (later of Churchfield House) is dated 30th March 1854 but the term of eleven years began 2nd February 1854. By the agreement the three men gain possession of a farm known as Birches (plot 3 on the plan) which consists of a farmhouse cottage, barn, stable, shippon and other outbuildings together with fields named as Park Great Meadow, Hilly Dole, Reed, Park Meadows, Long Meadow, Bent, Bent Meadow, Acre, Holme, Duxbury Meadow, Horsemans Dole, Nook, Mill Field, Flatts, Long Field, Middle Field, and Little Field covering a total of just over 49 and one quarter acres or approximately 20 hectares.

Conditions laid on the three are that they will maintain the buildings and repair as needed fences, gates, stiles and walls, also keep hedges and drains in good order and make sure ditches and watercourses are clear. Additionally they are not to use any of the buildings as a Beershop or for "any noisome or offensive trade whatsoever". There are also details regarding care of the land. They are not to plough any of the fields and all produce of the land, grass and hay, must be used on the farm in feeding the animals not sold on. Further all waste products, manure, compost, whatever, has to be used on the farm to improve the land again none to be sold and used elsewhere.

To make sure the land is farmed and looked after properly there could be an inspection at any time. (This could be by James Lomax in person as he was known to take a keen interest in his estate.)

The lease may give the Mercers and Haydock the right to farm the land but James Lomax retained many other rights. He, or more likely his workmen, had the right of entry to repair or relay pipes from Spring Water Well to Clayton Hall and to divert water from Harwood Brook through any part of the land to Oakenshaw. Rights to hunting, coursing, shooting and sporting, great loves of James Lomax, were also retained.

All trees were his as were all minerals or stone on or below the ground and he could gain access to them by whatever means were deemed necessary which could include the making of roads, quarries or mines. Also, no doubt with an eye on the expanding town which he owned, with just one calendar month's notice James Lomax could repossess any part of the farm for building on or the laying of roads. If any land was taken back for these purposes then two pounds sixteen shillings (£2.80) per year would be paid for each acre until the end of the lease.

With these conditions and restrictions Messrs. Mercer and Haydock paid rent of sixty four pounds and ten shillings (£64.50) on 1st May each year but though they had to continue farming under the terms of the lease it would seem that this was not their only motivation for they had already applied for a licence "to sell exciseable liquors by retail" in the farmhouse which was due to come into force 10th October 1854 after which additional rent of fifteen pounds ten shillings (£15.50) per year had to be paid.

So it was that The Plough Inn opened for business.