Category Archives: Our History

History of the Society

Famous Sons and Daughters

Alfred Liversidge (1836-1921)

Englands fastest man and trainer of Gem Mace the last of the World Heavyweight bare knuckle fighters.

As An Athlete he raced for money and in Norwich once won an army officer on his horse over 50 yards.

He was unbeaten and retired at the top to concentrate on training the Pugilists of the day.

Herbert and Harry Crossley

Herbert was Novice Heavyweight British Champion. . He was born in 1901 and went into boxing training as a youngster. His fight record was excellent.He went to the U.S after being spotted by a US promoter and was put up against their best. He fought the legendary Gene Tunney. He died following a prolonged fight in new York on the 20th November 1921. His body was shipped back to Swinton and he is interred in the churchyard.

Harry was Cruiser  weight  British Champion . He was born in 1904. Like his brother Herbert he started boxing young.He took the title in 1929 and retained it until 1934. He had many defenses and finally retired in 1934.He only lost 18 fights in an active 10 year professional career. He died in 1948.

Steve Dawson

The legendary Dobbie guitarist and songwriter of Heavy Metal band Saxon was born and lived in the town. He was a founder member and has had various hits in the top twenty. He now tours with former lead guitarist Graham Oliver as Oliver Dawson Saxon. They give you Saxon back to the core.

Tony Capstick

Singer ,songwriter,  broadcaster and TV actor. Tony lived in the town when a youngster. He attended the Swinton Bridge school. His first job was on the nearby railway. He appeared on the Folk circuit for many years and was famous for his style. His record Capstick comes home reached number 2 in the charts.

He ran a radio phonein for the BBC for many years and was very dissapointed when they pulled the plug on what many believe was the best show on the radio.

He also appeared as a regular character(the Policeman) on Last of the summer wine

Always very supportive of Swinton Heritage he is greatly missed.

Arthur Morris- the pitman’s poet and Grandfather of Julie Andrews.

Arthur lived in the town when at his performing peak. He lived on Temperance street. He used to tour the land performing his monograms , ballads and poetry. He would dress as a Pit Deputy(his former trade)to carry out his act.

His poetry was very political but got great recognition. He was acknowledged by none other than the King himself.

His daughter was non other than Julie Andrew’s mother. She was also very talented.Arthur however was the black sheep of the family. Please refer to the book about his life story in our products section.

World Wars

As with most communities, Swinton suffered grievous losses of young men in World War I. 207 names are recorded in our fine war memorial, including that of Tommy Jackson, V.C. Tommy was the first British soldier to cross the mighty Hindenburg line in 1918. On home front, Zeppelins dropped a number of bombs in the Swinton area which, fortunately, only broke some windows.

During World War II, the casualty list was, thankfully, much lighter but still spelt tragedy for the families involved. Swintons first resident to be killed in action was  Sidney Bell, who died at sea off the coast of Norway. The last death was William Phillips, who died in 1946 in Montagu Hospital.

We must not forget the vital contribution of those of our residents who kept vital industries and services working. In addition, many contributed to the war effort in the Home Guard, Air Raid Precautions Auxillary Fire Service etc. The tower of Swinton Church was used by fire watchers who would have spent many a cold night out after a hard day at work.

Very large sums of money were raised by the Local War Savings Association. Their efforts were so successful, in fact, that the entire cost of a trawler minesweeper was raised in 1942. This was adopted as Swintons ship and was named HMS Kingston Jacinth. Unfortunately the vessel was sunk by a mine with the loss of several of her crew.

Industry

COAL

Coal has been worked in the Swinton area certainly since 1600. Early mining was by the use of bell pits, opencast and drift methods. The deep mined Manvers Colliery opened in 1870 and Wath Main in 1875 heralded the era of the super pits and population growth in the area necessitated corresponding urban expansion. The Swinton Common Colliery operated into the 1920,s and was then demolished.It was situated near the Woodman roundabout. A shaft marker is all that can be seen today.

Inside the Churchyard at Swinton can be found many graves of former colliers killed at work in the mines.

OTHER INDUSTRIES AND TRANSPORT

Waterways have played an important part in Swintons past as the town was an important junction of the Dearne and Dove Canal and the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation. Boat building in the town started in 1770 and the tradition was carried on later by Thomas Scholey and the Waddington family.

Railways first came with the North Midland line and the first station opened in 1840 at the site of our present interchange. A new station was built by the Midland Railway slightly to the north of this, openeding in 1899 and closing in 1968. The Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway came through Swinton around 1870 and Swinton Central station opened. The present Swinton interchange opened in 1990, restoring rail services to the town after a gap of 22 years. In 2002, the facility was presented with a National Award for the best Small Interchange in the UK. Today buses and trains provide  regular services to a good range of destinations.

Here can be seen the first Railway station the town had.

On the production side, Burnetts Wagon Works produced rail vehicles and wheels from their premises on Whitelea Road.

The Iron and Steel industry was well represented by Baker and Bessemer at Kilnhurst. These works turned out a whole range of products, including railway and tram wheels and munitions. Brothers Thomas and Charles Hattersley moved to Swinton from Sheffield in 1864. They went on to establish a large and prosperous industrial enterprise on Whitelea Road called Queens Foundry. A wide range of manufactured goods were made, including many types of domestic and industrial heating equipment and home appliances. The works had an impressive  record of entering their products in national  trade and industrial fairs. The heating industry is still manufacturing in Swinton at the Stelrad Plant.

Swinton was home to the glass industry from the 1850s until 1988 trading under a number of names e.g. South Yorkshire Glassworks,  Dale & Browns, Canning Town Glass and United Glass Containers.

As the end of the World War II, the General Electric Company took over a former munitions factory at the side of the River Don. Cookers were produced in prodigious numbers as the factory grew into one of the largest cooker plants in the empire. Morphy Richards Limited now manages the plant which continues to employ significant numbers of local people.

Swintons many other industries, both past and present, have included chemicals, mineral water, plastic products, foodstuffs, vehicles and much more!

Swinton Schools

An early record of educational provision was a school provided by the Earl Fitzwilliam for his stable lads who worked at Swinton Racecourse (the racecourse was, in the main, a training grounds which did produce one Lincoln winner between the wars).

A Church School opened on Church Street in 1854, with enlargements in 1900 and 1910. This became known as the Fitzwilliam County School. The buildings remain today as private residences. The Education Board erected a school at Swinton Bridge in 1878 and at Queen Street in 1908.

Queen Street School still serves the children of the town, along with Fitzwilliam Infants, Fitzwilliam juniors and Brookfield Junior and Infant Schools.

Secondary education, including VI form, is provided by Swinton Community School, which started life in 1958 as a teacher-training establishment. Milton School provides special education to children from a wide area.

Swinton’s World Famous Potteries

Thomas Brameld

Thomas Brameld

Edward Butler first established his tile and pot works in Swinton in 1745. The site off Blackamoor Road was ideal for a pottery with clay available on Swinton Common, a reliable water supply, building stone quarried from Wath Wood and coal obtainable from close by.

Eventually, control passed into the hands of the Brameld family, whose technical competence enabled the pottery to become world famous, with an international sales base and royal clients. Rising costs caused the factory to close in 1842. See the picture gallery for examples of the factories fine products.

A further world-famous Swinton Pottery was the Don Pottery at the other end of town, nearby Kilnhust had the Twigg Pottery. Products from these potteries are now highly sought after in the an in the antiques world with collectors of ceramics world-wide maintaining a keen interest in Swintons pots.

Swinton and The Plague

In June 1646 Swinton was infested by the plague which raged in the town until October of that year. Some 59 persons were recorded as victims who died, at that time this represented a third of the population.

During the construction work on Swinton Church Hall in 1913, a mass grave of human remains were uncovered, believed to be plague victims. The remains were re-interred in Swinton churchyard which, at 9 acres, in size is one of the largest open churchyards in the Country.

Swinton’s Places of Worship

Etching of the Chapel of Ease

Etching of the Chapel of Ease

The Norman Chapel of St. Mary Megdalene was built in the second half of the 12th Century as a Chapel of Ease for the Parish of Wath. It stood on the site of the present St. Margarets Church Hall and, at one time, had the towns cross nearby and a set of stocks. Interestingly, Chapel Hill was the site of the towns first pub.

The Chapel may have been the work of the famous Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, who had lands and buildings in Swinton. Sadly, the Chapel was demolished in 1816.

Close by was the Old Hall, believed to be the residence of King Johns principal butler. King John (1199-1216) would have been a house guest when he journeyed in this part of this realm.

The Parish Church of St. Margaret was consecrated on June 15, 1817, the patron being the then Earl Fitzwilliam who gave the land. It wasnt until 1851 that Swinton became a separate parish, independent of Wath and Mexborough.

Saint Margaret's Parish church ,the later extensions can be easily seen.

Saint Margaret’s Parish church ,the later extensions can be easily seen.

On March 24th, 1897, a catastrophic fire burnt down the original church, with only the tower surviving. The present larger church was built on to the old tower and was consecrated on October 28th, 1899.

The clock in the church tower was installed in 1937 to celebrate the Coronation of King George VI.

The rapid industrialisation of the Victorian period lead to extensive housing development and other building in the Swinton Bridge area of the town. To serve this community, St. Michael’s Church was constructed on Whitelea Road as a chapel ease to the main Church. St. Michael’s opened on August 15th, 1901. It is now demolished and no trace of the building remains on the site.

Swinton’s population in 1800 was 653, which by 1901 has exploded to 12,217.

This rapid increase in population corresponded with the building of other churches and chapels. St. Johns Methodist Church was rebuilt in 1910 replacing an original Wesleyan Chapel dating from 1865. A Congregational Church was opened on Station Street in 1902.

A Wesleyan Reform Chapel, The Ebenezer Church, was opened on Milton Street in 1873. This building was demolished in 2000 and modern flats have been built.

In 1869, a Methodist Chapel opened on Bridge Street, being demolished about a century later. Today, other places of Christian Worship occupying later buildings can be found with the Bethany Church, Rowms Lane; Bow Broom Chapel, Queen Street; Zion Gospel Church, Charles Street and the Piccadilly Methodist Church on Piccadilly Road.

Norman Conquest

As we know from our school days, William the Conquerors Norman invasion took place in 1066. William defeated the Saxon King Harolds forces at Hastings after Harold had forced-marched his army from Stamford Bridge, near York.

The Normans began their ascendancy and England was parcelled out to Williams followers as a reward for their services. The Doomsday Book – completed in 1086 – was an audit of the property and resources available to Englands new masters.

At the time of the Doomsday Survey, Swinton was very sparsely inhabited and was an area of mostly waste and wood pasture. We do, however, get an agreement over the place name of Swinton deriving from the old English for Swine Farm. Documents in Latin dating from very ancient times refer to the settlement as Villa Porcorum –  House of Pigs.

The Early Days, the Romans

Swintons very early history may well be associated with the Northern Britons of the Brigantes tribe. The Brigantes held an impressive hill fort at Wincobank and Swintons land most likely came under their lordship.

Coins found at Rockingham Road

Coins found at Rockingham Road

At times during the Roman invasion, the legions had to overcome violent resistance from the Brigantes who would have used natural defences such as rivers in their battle plans. As Swinton is sited on higher ground to the River Don, we can speculate that the area witnessed some desperate hand-to-hand combat.

Evidence of Roman presence has been verified. In 1853, workers digging out a cellar on Rockingham Road uncovered a hoard of 300-400 coins covering the period from 69 to 212 AD. We have no idea who the hoarder was nor what became of him. Further indication of Roman activity is the existence of two roads crossing the area which would have linked the Templeborough Roman fort near Rotherham with territory of the North.

The Romans withdrew back to their capital in around 410AD. Western Europe then entered the Dark Ages. It is believed, however, that Swintons impressive ancient earthwork, the Rig Dyke, was constructed during this period. For many years it was believed that the Dyke dated from the Roman period and it was named the Roman Rig. More recent theories have suggested that the earthworks may well have been a boundary between Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms of Northumbria and Mercia. The Kingdom of Elmet to the North may also have played a part. The truth of our Rig Dykes origins is shrouded in the mists of time, but we can be sure that Swinton was indeed a borderland.

During the centuries of the Dark Ages, Barbarian tribes such as the Angles and Saxons invaded and settled across much of England. The River Don would have provided a watery highway to assist their migration.