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REUBEN HAIGH

1879-1951

"A Plain Lancashire Man"

   
Reuben was born in 1879 at PASTURESIDE FARM in Walsden and moved to Ruabon in Denbighshire with his parents when he was still a child. He had a good education at both Ruabon and Manchester Grammar schools and followed his father into the running of the Ruabon Brick and Terra Cotta Company. He was first appointed as the Company Secretary in 1901 and when his father died a few months after this appointment, he became a director of the company. In 1906 he became the chairman of the board of directors and in 1946, when the new company was formed he continued to act in that capacity. He also acted as managing director right up until his death in 1951. He took an active part in the daily running of the company, and would personally open the works at 7-30 every morning.
   

It was only in the last year of his life, that ill health stopped him from performing this task, in which he took great pride. The workforce affectionately nicknamed him The Boss.

Reuben had grown up at Pen-y-Gardden Hall, and in 1912 the house had undergone a refurbishment and amongst the alterations was the construction of a grand staircase, with oak timbers especially imported from the United States. After Reuben's marriage to a very elegant lady named Elizabeth, they continued to live in the hall.

 

Pen-y-Gardden Hall, Ruabon, North Wales, in 2003

 
Reuben was a great outdoor man and also took an interest in local Ruabon affairs. He played in the local cricket team and at the annual meeting of the Ruabon village cricket team in March 1913 it was reported: "Mr. Reuben Haigh had the best batting average last season". He was also the club captain.
 

Ruabon Cricket Club 1907

Back Row:

A. Adams

J.W. Thorpe

W. Payne

H.C. Sturgeon

W. Bowler

T. Longdin

G. Clay

Seated:

Rev. P.R. Bartley

R.A. Jones

R. Haigh (captain)

Rev. D.J. Bowen

Front:

Lloyd Rogers


Amongst his other interests were greyhounds, of which he owned a number and ran them with a fair amount of success. In his younger days he was a good shot, but later in life he preferred football, boxing and horse racing.

His enduring love, however, was the showing and breeding of shire horses. He could often be seen leading a string of stallions around the roads of Ruabon on their morning exercise. He had moderate success with his shires and won two firsts at the Royal Welsh Show and many at the Denbighshire and Flintshire Show. He also won the Challenge Cup outright at this show.

He took a great interest in the affairs of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society, and was an honorary director from 1921 until a few months before his death, when he resigned the post. In 1937 he thought he may have to resign the post due to pressure of business, but after many appeals for him to carry on, he decided to do so at least until the end of 1940. However, it turned out that he carried on until 1951, which was much longer than he had anticipated. He also served a term as President in 1938.

Reuben died on 14th March 1951 aged 72, and many kind tributes were paid to him. The Chairman of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society spoke of the respect he was held in by the members, and of his devotion to the Society, and the way that he carried out the arduous tasks set him in an exemplary manner. He was always friendly, cheerful and approachable and deplored any sort of red tape. He had courtesy and tact in plenty, but could be firm when it was called for.

In his honour, the Reuben Haigh Perpetual Challenge Cup was created, which was to be awarded annually at the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show, for the best exhibit in the shire classes. It was first presented in 1952 and continues as a lasting memorial to him to this day.

His death was reported in the local newspaper under the heading "A Great Gentleman". It goes on to say that he was natural and unassuming man, friendly and courteous to everyone and always approachable by anyone at any time. He treated rich and poor alike but was subservient to no one. It finishes by saying that he was, as he himself would certainly have put it "a plain Lancashire man". So it would seem that he never forgot his county of birth.

There was also a large public attendance and among them were Lord Mostyn, Sir Brynner Jones and representatives from the Royal Welsh Argicultural Society. Floral tributes came from many people and societies with which he had been associated with in his lifetime. They included the Cliviger Coal and Coke Company, Chester Greyhound Association, The British Legion and the British Red Cross. Many more also sent wreaths, too numerous to include in this account.

It would appear that Reuben was an extremely well thought of man in all he did. Successful and well liked, he lived a full life, and whatever hobby or task he undertook he enjoyed and tried to give of his all. His interests were varied, but his love of shire horses seemed to be the one thing above all his other pursuits that meant the most to him, and it lasted throughout his life.

   
The funeral service was held at Ruabon Parish Church and he was buried in Ruabon Cemetery. The coffin was born by six of his employees from the brick works. Among the family mourners were his Thomas nephews and nieces, and from Todmorden, his cousins, Mrs. Ratcliffe snr. Mr. and Mrs, Jack Ratcliffe, John Haigh and Miss Carole Ratcliffe.
   
   

In Affectionate Remembrance of Hannah wife of the late J W Haigh

Pen-y-gardden, Ruabon

born 7 March 1848

died 23 March 1912.

Also Reuben beloved husband of

Elizabeth J Haigh

died 14 March 1951 aged 72 years.

 

Side

In Loving Memory of Edith (Dot) youngest daughter of

J W and Hannah Haigh

Pen-y-gardden, Ruabon

born 28 January 1884

died 3 June 1933.

 

Side

In Loving Memory of Alice daughter of JW and Hannah Haigh

Pen-y-gardden, Ruabon

Born 22 July 1881

died 21 September 1936

Also James Haigh Thomas

born 1 May 1914 died 28 April 1966

Also Elizabeth J Haigh born

8 October 1891 died 26 August 1971

 

Reuben is buried along with his mother, wife, two sisters and a nephew in a splendid grave in Ruabon Cemetery. It stands as a permanent reminder of the family's contribution to their adopted town. The brick works, which was a great provider of work for the people and would probably have kept many from hard times in the days of the depression, still lingers in the memories of the town folk and is often talked about.

   

Near to Pen-y-gardden is a wood, which is still known as Haigh Wood by the local people, surely an indication of how this family contributed so much to the life of the people of Ruabon and a living memorial to them.

There is a link between Ruabon and the Haigh family who moved there,which can still be seen in Walsden.  As you pass the railway station, just at the back of it, hidden by trees, is a large red brick house. These bricks came from the Ruabon Brick and Terra Cotta Company.

Reuben was the last of this particular line of the Haigh family, as there is no evidence of any children to carry on the name. His ancestors can be traced back to the mid 1600's when REUBEN THE FIRST, was found under a hawthorn bush near to NAZE FARM in Walsden.

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