When Edward Higgins arrived in Knutsford in 1756 he took possession of a large house known as the Cann Office. To the local populace he appeared to be a man of high standing. He took to renovating the house and stables and bringing several fine horses, taking on two local youths as apprentices to his groom.
Attending the local hunts, with his skill on horseback and affable manner he was soon welcomed by the local gentry as one of their own. His regular excursions outside the area were assumed to be the actions of a conscientious land owner collecting the rents which funded his extravagant lifestyle.
The following year he married Katherine Birtles, a spinster from a respectable local family and they became closely entwined within local society often dining at their neighbour’s houses and hosting lavish events themselves.
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In the 1970′s, the M62 (built to connect Hull and Liverpool) forged it’s way across the rugged Pennine hills making it the highest motorway in England. Just over the border into Yorkshire lies Stott Hall Farm, instantly recognisable to anyone who has traveled this route and quite a few who haven’t.
The farmhouse (built in 1737) now stands isolated by the two carriageways of this busy motorway, which pass to either side. Modern mythology would have us believe that this was all down to the stubbornness of Ken Wild, the man who lived in the farm at the time.
Whilst hundreds of homes were demolished to make way for this major artery across the country, Stott Hall Farm remained standing. Despite offers of ludicrously large sums of money by bowler-hatted civil servants who reluctantly came up from Whitehall to this desolate location, the farmer refused to budge and the Government was forced instead to change the plans at great expense.
The truth is, that it was the land itself that forced the mile long rent, the waterlogged moorland and steep incline on the hill making it impossible (at the time at least) to construct the two carriageways side by side without the land slipping and destroying the construction.