Jesse ‘the cropper’ was born in November 1914. He married Ida in September 1948 at Leigh Register Office.

Jesse had worked at Astley Green pit and finished as a pit worker on Saturday, January 24, 1953, and opened his barber’s shop at 6 Silk Street three days later. Jesse taught himself to cut hair and was a familiar sight as he peddled through Leigh, stopping off to talk to friends and strangers astride a massively heavy bike bearing the legend  ‘Nay, You Lot – Give Us a Smile It Costs Nowt!’

He decided to build his own bungalow which he called ‘Cropper’s Hall’ – at 211 Manchester Road, Leigh. It took nine years with the help of his late wife, Ida, and their daughter, also named Ida.

The story told is that he paid nothing for the building asking for gifts of bricks and seeking free advice from his customers.

Leigh’s last great eccentric, Jesse Graham was universally liked and his memory lives on. He died at his third attempt in March 1997 for rumours had claimed he’d ‘died’ twice before.

Jesse’s bike was the first artefact given to the mill. It was donated by members of his family.


The Bishop’s Chair was originally located in Bedford Church and has been kindly donated to the project by the church. Although only constructed in the Victorian Era most of the wood has come from Winchester Cathedral and could be over 900 years old.

The inscription on the back of the chair reads

‘ Wood from Winchester Cathedral roof 1086 – 1896

February 1914 presented by Thomas Holt, Town Clerk of Winchester to Bedford Church, Leigh’