Little House on the Prairie was an American Western drama television series, about a family living on a farm in Walnut Grove, Minnesota and was very popular in the 1970s and 80s. However “the little house on the prairie” I am referring to is not in the mid west of America but situated in West Yorkshire here in the UK.
Anyone who’s driven on the M62 between Manchester and Leeds will have seen the farm in the middle of the motorway and wondered: what’s it doing there? On the border between Lancashire and Yorkshire, slap bang in the middle of the motorway is Stott Hall Farm. Known to the truckers as ‘the little house on the prairie’ it’s possibly the most famous farm in the land.
Stott Hall Farm is an 18th century farm on Windy Hill, situated between the two carriageways of the motorway between junctions 22 and 23. The road forks around the farm for engineering reasons owing to the surrounding area’s geology, though a local myth persists that the road had to be split because the owners refused to sell the land during its construction.
There is also an “urban myth” that a swampy type character sat on the roof of the farm blasting out Led Zeppelin songs to protest about the demolition of the farm…………nice story but again untrue. Due to its remoteness in the Pennines, the farm is often nicknamed the Little House on the Prairie but no one seems to know who gave it the name or when. But it is now known countrywide to lorry drivers using CB radio by this name and is even referred to as such by BBC Radio 2’s traffic reporters.
Only last week I was listening to Radio 5 early one morning and a traffic report came on saying that there were problems between J22 and J23 of the M62 opposite “the little house on the prairie.”
So it now seems that the name has gained national and unofficial recognition, as everyone who I speak to knows where the “little house on the prairie” is and even people “down South” are aware of its existance!
I think it is rather wonderful that you can be driving along one of Britain’s busiest motorways and then suddenly come across the farm and the sight of sheep and lambs grazing in the middle of 6 very fast lanes of traffic.
So, if you have never driven the M62 between Lancashire and Yorkshire (there is a “checkpoint Charlie” to check passports at Ripponden) be prepared to see one of the “seven wonders” of Britain’s motorways.