New Dick is an old packhorse route which runs from the top of Toothill Bank to Clough Lane at Fixby and whilst it now comes to a dead end, bisected by the M62, it was once part of the main road between Wakefield and Manchester. The presence of a large and sturdily-constructed well attests to its former status. Nearby the well, the legend “Asa Farrar : Oct. 2nd 1859” is inscribed on one of the stones in a stile.
Local rumour once held that Farrar had been a highwayman who used to waylay travellers pausing at the well. However, whilst there is no definitive evidence that Farrar was not a highwayman, the actual story of how his name comes to be carved into that stone is arguably much stranger.
The 1851 census records that Farrar was a weaver’s son living at Oaks Green who by the age of 23, for reasons we will never know, was already tired of life and so carved his name into the stile as a memorial before attempting to hang himself from an adjacent tree. He had effectively tried to chisel his own epitaph and for years afterwards local people believed that the stone actually marked his grave and would not pass the site after dark for fear of meeting Farrar’s restless spirit.
However, Farrar was unsuccessful in his suicide attempt but clearly the impulse plagued him throughout his life, for on 26th June 1908–by which time he’d reached the grand old age of 72 and was living in Elland–he tried once again. Three times, in fact; twice by hanging and once by a self-inflicted wound with a razor, but these attempts also proved fruitless.