1) An artificial water course, drain or sewer; a word commonly found in documents which relate to works associated with bridges, mills, the farming landscape, and coal-pits in particular.

1665 wee paine Michell Woodhead that hee open his soughholes to vente the water betweene his lands and the lands in Michel Efwick occupation, Northowram. In coal-mining, the channel often started underground where it might be walled, and once on the surface it would usually be roofed in with bricks or stone and then turf. There are some references to ‘open’ soughs but in general the coal-owners were conscious of the danger and inconvenience of their sewers. A lease of 1597 states that it was not lawful to make water courses under the howses and buildings, orchards, gardens, yeardes, garthes and Bakesides, Beeston. The word occurs in many of the earliest leases, both as a noun and a verb: 1582 the said myne of coals, with free liberty from time to time to make and dig the soughs and new pittes, Northowram

1599 libertye for sinkeinge and diggeinge of pittes … And for Sougheinge … and dryeing of the said Cole myne, Shelf

1720 walling a peece of the sough, Farnley. The lower end of the sough was referred to as the ‘tail’: 1692 for the sough tayle feying, Farnley

1814 railing sow tail, Ovenden. The Tong accounts of 1761-2 have payments to John Cowburn for throwing up an open tail and entries for 6 days at the open tail and 78 yards driving open tail. In the same sequence is a payment of 3d for a load of Sods to Cover Sow with and Michael Crossley 1˝ days leading Stone to Cover Sow.

spellings open tail sough tail
dates 1582 1597 1599 1665 1692 1720 1761-1762 1814

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