The Laith, Meltham

The Laith, also known as "The Lathe", "Murphy's Laith" and "Laith House", is a former building that was situated above Folly Dolly Falls near Meltham.


The name implies the building was likely a barn, and was named as "Murphy's Laith" on the 1851 Census and simply "The Lathe" on the 1854 Ordnance Survey map. However, parish records from as early as 1780s reference the property.

Ellen Murphy, resident there in 1841 and presumably a widow, died in 1847.

Ellen Rayner (or Raynor), who later married Amos Bower and may have been Ellen Murphy's niece, continued to live at The Laith until her death in October 1896, aged 80. Ellen was an illegitimate daughter, as the baptism record of 5 May 1816 lists only her mother, Hannah Raynor.

By 1901, tailor George Henry Stead was residing at the property with his wife, Sarah Jane (née Allen), and family.[1]

The building was aligned next to a stone-lined water channel (now used as a footbridge) below the source of the spring that flows over Folly Dolly Falls, so it may have at one time used a stream or undershot water wheel.

The Laith appears on maps up to the 1950s, after which it was presumably demolished. Remains of the building can still be found at the location, which is adjacent to the public footpath that runs up to High Brow Farm.

Census Returns

year person age occupation / notes birthplace
1841 Ellen Murphy 55 living on her own means
Hannah Murphy 25 living on her own means
Ellen Rayner 25 cotton thread worker
1851 Ellen Rayner 34 cotton frame tenter Meltham
Hannah Rayner[2] 65 farmer of 5 acres Meltham
Mary Shaw 68 windowed aunt of Ellen Meltham
1861 no entry found
1871 Ellen Rayner 52 cotton worker Meltham
1881 Amos Bower 55 farmer Meltham
Ellen Bower (née Rayner)[3] 64 housewife Meltham
1891 Amos Bower 64 farmer Meltham
Ellen Bower 73 wife Meltham
Bannister Bower 51 stone breaker (brother of Amos) Meltham
1901 George Henry Stead 36 journeyman tailor South Crosland
Sarah Jane Stead 35 wife Meltham
Mary Stead 10 daughter South Crosland
Winifred L. Stead 11 months daughter Meltham
Colis Stead 5 nephew Lockwood
1911 George Henry Stead 46 tailor South Crosland
Sarah Jane Stead 45 wife Meltham
Mary Stead 20 daughter: warehouse hand at cotton thread factory South Crosland
Winifred Lascelles Stead 10 daughter: scholar Meltham


Notes and References

  1. Stead formerly lived at Lower Hall, South Crosland, and at Golcar Brow, Meltham.
  2. Baptised 8 August 1874, daughter of clothier Abraham Raynor of Laith.
  3. Ellen Rayner married Amos Bower in 1875. Amos likely died in 1895, aged 68 and Ellen likely died in 1896, aged 80.