The birth of Levitt Hagg

It may be best known in recent years as the name of a landfill site - but Levitt Hagg has a rich history dating back hundreds of years.

It is probable that the name was first given to a clearing below the Warmsworth Cliffs on the the south bank of the River Don. The earliest known reference to the area is a rental paid in 1629.

The clearing was in the parish of Warmsworth, one mile from Warmsworth village and half a mile from Sprotbrough Church.

During the mid-18th century, Levitt Hagg was adopted as the name for a house erected on part of the site of the clearing. Later, when more buildings were constructed and a small village was formed, Levitt Hagg was used for the name of the whole settlement.

John Battie began quarrying operations at the base of Warmsworth Cliffs in the 1750s. He had entered the quarrying business because the growth in population in the 18th century had created a demand for stone to build more houses.

The increase in population also led to higher food prices and a need for more food growing areas.

This in turn initiated the establishment of lime burning at the quarries as lime was essential in the reclamation of marginal land for agriculture.

As the quarries were situated near the navigable River Don, where fuel for the lime kilns could be unloaded and the stone and lime easily despatched, Battie decided the quarrying business could be profitable.

Once quarrying had commenced, Battie involved himself in a small building programme, constructing the house Levitt Hagg and two cottages.

The village of Levitt Hagg began to grow around 1815 when the company of Lockwood, Blagden and Kemp constructed six cottages, referred to locally as 'White Row.' The number of people living at Levitt Hagg, during the 1820s, was about 40. The company then witnessed an era of great expansion and productivity. Other quarries in the Warmsworth Cliffs, owned by the Aldam family, were leased, and by 1850 the annual total from all the quarries was quoted at 13,000 tons of lime and 22,000 tons of stone. A large amount of this output was distributed by boat, but when the South Yorkshire Railway Company's line was extended through Warmsworth Cliffs in 1849, it enabled a considerable proportion of the stone and lime to be conveyed by rail.

Four more houses were built around 1850 and the dwellings which then existed at Levitt Hagg were occupied, according to the 1851 census, by 60 people. All the houses were company property and whenever an employee left or retired, the premises were vacated.

A further building programme was implemented at Levitt Hagg during 1875, when six more houses were constructed. Each one contained a living room, two bedrooms, an attic and a kitchen.

At this time the Levitt Hagg population was nearly 100, and to meet the needs of worship and recreation, a small Mission Hall cum Reading Room was built in 1878.

The site was given by Cusworth Hall Estate owner William Battie Wrightson and funds to meet the construction costs were raised through donations and subscriptions.

Intermittent boat building, which had continued through the latter half of the nineteenth century, was abandoned in 1901. During 1925, the County Medical Officer made a report on the sanitary conditions at Levitt Hagg, and his findings highlighted that many of the houses were in a state of disrepair, water had to be obtained from wells and drainage was discharged into the river.

The report also stated that whenever the river overflowed the houses were prone to flooding. This was emphasised eight years later when a serious flood not only waterlogged all the houses, but contaminated the water supply.

Consequently water was transported by cart from another district.

The introduction of modern machinery at the Warmsworth Cliff quarries in the late 1930s reduced the workforce and also lessened the housing requirements at Levitt Hagg.

The poor conditions and the seriously polluted state of the river inevitably led to all the Levitt Hagg houses being condemned as unfit for occupation and by 1957 the area was cleared.