James Forshaw, a construction worker, went to work at dawn. A little later his wife, Ann, set to work in the vegetable garden. Their children Joseph and Robert were still asleep in bed near the open fire.
The A628 road crosses the Pennine Hills via the Longdendale Valley and the Woodhead Pass. The valley can be cold. It is home to sheep and a few hardy cattle. The only time it had a large human population was during the mid nineteenth century when it was home to hundreds of construction workers.
In the 1840s the Manchester to Sheffield railway line was driven through the valley, and the seven mile long Woodhead Tunnel dug. From 1848 to 1877 a series of dams were constructed to provide water for Manchester. These were major engineering projects.
The workers and their families needed to be tough to survive the hard dangerous work and difficult living conditions. The Forshaws shared their small two room shanty with six lodgers. Workers lived close to the work. As soon as the project was complete they moved on, leaving the valley with the railway and a chain of newly formed lakes: Woodhead, Torside, Rhodes Wood, Vale House, and Bottoms, and this one memorial by the roadside to remind us of the many human tragedies that occured there during those hard times.