‘Big Off’ at Ackworth Old Hall. 30th January 2011

Ackworth Old Hall

‘The Big Off’ was how Tom Butler described the crash which brought down some of the main group on the Sunday Run returning from Thorne. After descending past the ‘Brown Cow’ in Ackworth and forking right for Purston Jaglin, Martin Price came to grief while leading on the right hand bend with Ackworth Old Hall on the left. Matthew Dodworth ran into Martin and went spectacularly over his handlebars head first, landing on his shoulder, with Matt Churm also coming off in dramatic fashion. Others found themselves on the ground, or took evasive action. Fortunately, other than bruises and burns there were no serious injuries, the only casualty being Matthew Ds completely wrecked rear wheel. A man in the grounds of the Old Hall appeared and asked if any first aid or tools where required. Incredibly on seeing Matthews rear wheel, he offered to loan him a replacement . He disappeared into the Hall and returned with a ‘Carbon Cosmic’, no less, which was duly installed into Matthews frame.

The situation was ironic as the Elizabethan Hall, built in 1580, is where the notorious robber and highwayman John Nevison (Swift Nick) was suspected of regularly hiding. The kindness of the man from the Hall was the exact opposite of highway robbery.. 

The Hall is reputedly Haunted by the ghost of Nevison whose most famous act was in 1676 when he rode from Rochester in Kent to York in just 15 hours including a ferry crossing of the Thames. After committing a robbery and afraid his victim had recognised him he fled, covering the  230 miles in record time. On his arrival in York, he was seen talking to the Lord Mayor who was playing bowls. After his arrest the Mayor confirmed Nevison was in York at 8pm and he was acquitted. Nobody believed that he could have covered the distance from Rochester in such a short time He became a folk hero and gained praise for his exploits from Charles II. The feat is often wrongly attributed to another highwayman, Dick Turpin, who was not yet born. Nevison was arrested outside the Three Houses Inn in Sandal, Wakefield and hung at York in May 1684.

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