Stott Hall: The Farm in The Middle of The Highway

Driving along the M62 motorway, on the border between Lancashire and Yorkshire between junctions 22 and 23, motorists are greeted with an unusual sight—a farm situated smack dab in the middle of the motorway. The two incoming carriageways of the high-speed motorway connecting the cities of Liverpool and Hull separates at this point to make room for the Stott Hall Farm. For the past half a century, the farm has become one of the best-known sights, seen by a hundred thousand people everyday as they pass by at 70 miles per hour. One motorist had driven past the farm so many times that over time he claimed to have seen the entire selection of underwear of the farmer’s wife hanging out on the line.

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Photo credit: Danny Lawson/PA

The Stott Hall Farm has stood on this very spot for the past 300 years, and for two centuries, there was nothing else there but the birds and the sheep. Then the M62 arrived, right to the farm’s doorstep. In its wake was hundreds of bulldozed homes and displaced families. But miraculously, the Stott Hall Farm survived.

For decades, passing motorists assumed the owners were too stubborn to sell their property and so the motorway was built around the farm. In reality, the farm was saved by the geology of the land beneath the 15-acre farm.

“They couldn’t build the eastbound carriageway as high as the westbound carriageway,” explains sheep farmer Paul Thorp, who bought the property from Ken and Beth Wild—the couple whose underwear had become public spectacle. “They just kept getting landslips and one thing and another. So they decided to part the motorway and managed to save the building. That’s the only reason it’s still here.”

Engineers had to build underpasses under each carriageway so that farm owners could easily access other parts of his land without crossing the motorway.

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Photo credit: Danny Lawson/PA

The farm is separated from the motorway by crash barriers and a fence to keep livestock in and prevent out-of-control vehicles crashing onto the property. But there have been occasions—far too many—when the traffic comes just a bit too close for comfort. Paul Thorp and his previous occupants have seen plenty of crashes and near misses.

The Stott Hall Farm has also become an unofficial service station for drivers who have hit a problem on the motorway. Paul Thorp has had people coming and offering to buy petrol and diesel, or wanting to borrow spanners and jacks and wanting to use the telephone. Thorp doesn’t mind the occasional visitors, but he admits the constant buzzing of vehicles on the M62 sometimes gets on his nerve.

”Some days I wish I could switch it off, but I haven’t found the off-button yet!,” he joked.

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Photo credit: Richard Harvey/Wikimedia

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Photo credit: Danny Lawson/PA

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