In his book “At the Sign of the King’s Head”, published in 1925, author Ammon Wrigley tells the story of an old folks’ festival held at Dobcross on 28/8/1845, where 140 people (125 of them aged 77 years and upwards) dined at the Kings Head kept by Thomas Lawton and the Swan kept by Ben Bradbury. Wrigley wrote:
“On Thursday the 28th day of August, 1845, an Old Folks’ Festival was held at Dobcross in Saddleworth, and if there has been anything like it in the parish either before or since it is unknown to me. There must have been hundreds of famous feasts and thousands of dalesfolkgreased from ear to ear in Saddleworth during the past 80 years, but never one that has left a saviour like this old Dobcross feast .….
“The inns would be in stone and timber what the landlords were in flesh and bone, soaked with generous feasting …. I think of Tom Lawton and Bradbury on that dinner day in 1845, as two lusty kings of sirloin. Each would stand at the head of his table stripped to the shirt, with his sleeves rolled up above his elbows, and wouldn’t he slash hot platefuls from the mighty roast. Now and then he would rest for a moment and say, “By th’ Mass this is warm wark,” then he would “slart” the sweat from his brow on to the floor with the back of his thumb. How he would shout when he saw an empty plate: “Neaw then owd barrel bally, send thi plate op for another huggin, an’ blow that snuff off that sawt spoon. Come Jamie lad shap thisel; theau’rt beawn to be at th’ heel oth hunt. Shift it mon, get it eaut oth seet, theau’rt wur nur owd Mally o’ Skenner’s.”