Swinton History Snippets

Swinton United Brass Band 1890

1890 Group Photo

1890 Group Photo




A Liversidge



The Carnegie Library, Station Street

The richest man in the world in the early 1900’s was Scottish American philanthropist Mr Andrew Carnegie.  The Library at Swinton was built with money donated  by him.  A total of 2,509 Carnegie libraries were built between 1883 and 1929.  After a meeting with the Reverend W J Peacey Mr FL Harrop as town clerk wrote to ask for assistance in procuring a Free library and Carnegie sent over £3000.  It had to be built in a style approved by Carnegie’s own Architects.  He wanted only great buildings for his library projects.  The design also incorporated a lecture room for educational purposes.

The library opened on the 25th June 1906 by Sir William Holland M.P.  There were some 498 books to lend out.  By 1953 that number had increased to 6554.


Opening Day for the Town’s new library.

Sir William Holland,Liberal M.P for Rotherham from 1899 until 1910.

The opening of the Swinton Carnegie Library on 25th June 1905 by Sir William Holland M.P. was further re-modelled and re-furnished in 1932 in the lending and juvenile department of the library.  In 1935 further alterations to the entrance and reading room have brought those parts of the building into keeping with the rest.  The accommodation and lighting of the new reading room are such as might be seen only in city libraries, and the committee are worthy of the greatest praise for their achievement.

In the new reading room there are twenty attractive oak newspaper slopes, arranged that the reader may enjoy his paper seated comfortably.  The windows light the room to perfection, and for the after- tea visitor there is a switch on each desk, and he may use the electric light as required.  The room lights lend a touch of distinction and modernity with their cubist shape and chromium embellishments.  There are several very 1935 tables and chairs about the room, oak, and affording ample elbow room.  A magazine display stand, of oak, and fitted with chromium steel, and hat and coat racks, complete the up-to-date furnishings of the room.  There is a comfortable nook for the women folk, where they may read of Home and the Vogue.  More attractive lights in pearl glass, chromium steel finish have been installed in the entrance.

Altogether, we have now at Swinton the last word in library planning.  The lending department was arranged with thought and care.  The shelves are not the haphazard maze borrowers are lost in, and the librarian has correct supervision from his desk of both the adult and juvenile sections.  There are one or two display stands, with the inviting query “Have you read these?” and a table centrally situated, so that the borrower may choose some weighty volume, and sit in comfort to satisfy himself as to what Mr. Gladstone had to say in eighteen something.  There is not one of those inconvenient, back bending bottom shelves to be found in the library, and no tip-toeing is necessary to reach any book.  Jolly knights in armour and green pussies look down from the shelves of the juvenile section, and the thirst for general knowledge is tickled by one or two attractive posters.

All the furnishings are in Austrian oak, with the House of Cockayne supplying the newspaper slopes, magazine stands, tables, chairs, hat and coat racks, for the new reading room, and the modern planning for that department of the library, as for the lending department, was the work ofMr. Edward W. Meredith (Sheffield) architect, who has been responsible for much improved library planning in the city, and who deserves to be warmly complimented on the work he has now carried out at Swinton.





This gem of a pub closed around the First world war time.  It was on Fitzwilliam Street and had operated as a coaching inn for many years.  After closure it became the house for John Kemp.  It was also called by the locals “the Swan with 2 necks”.  If you venture down the one way section of Fitzwilliam Street from the main road you can still see the location of the pubs door and windows, now making up a wall.


The locals of the pub assemble outside for a photo shoot in 1897. The pub is on the right.

Extract from the 1870-72, John Marius Wilson ‘Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales’


Swinton village, a township, and a chapelry, in Wath-upon-Dearne parish, W. R. Yorkshire.  The village stands near the Dearne and Dove navigation, and near the junction of the North Midland and the South Yorkshire railways, 4½ miles NNE of Rotherham; and has a post-office under Rotherham, and a railway station with telegraph.

The township contains also Swinton Bridge and Birdwell-Flat hamlets and part of Kilnhurst Acres, 1,628. Real property, £6,599. Population in 1851, 1,817; in 1861, 3,190. Houses, 659. The increase of population arose from extension of coal mining, bottle-making, the iron trade, and railway traffic.  The manor belongs to Earl Fitzwilliam.  There are extensive potteries, extensive glass-works, an establishment of the South Yorkshire railway for repairing engines and waggons, and the Swinton iron-works.  The limits include part of Kilnhurst chapelry.  Population of Swinton chapelry, 2,317.  The living is a p. curacy in the diocese of York.  Value, £300.* Patron, Earl Fitzwilliam.  The church was rebuilt in 1817, at a cost of £6,500.  There are an Independent chapel, a Wesleyan chapel, and two national Schools.


Masonic Lodges


The first lodge formed was the ‘Rockingham Lodge’ which was founded by Mr S C Ward who was the first Worshipful Master.  The premises used were the original premises occupied by Swinton Council on Station Street.  In 1931 the ‘Gothic Lodge ‘ was founded by Swinton resident Doctor and Surgeon Sidney O Hatherley.


Masonic Lodge in Station Street

The two Lodges still continue today with the addition of a third lodge called the Fairway Lodge.  Inside the building still retains many original features.  The building can be hired for private functions and makes a good venue.


New Hall for Swinton


Extract from Mexborough & Swinton Times issue 8/11/1913


To meet the ever growing needs of the church in this part of Yorkshire, the clergy and people of Swinton are working vigorously to raise funds for the erection of a church hall, which forms part of the Dual Scheme inaugurated by the vicar (Rev. C. Steele) some time ago.  There is no question about the need for a hall.  It is generally admitted that such a building has been required for social purposes for some considerable time, and we recall that the Archbishop of York, when fulfilling the function of opening a hall at Wath a few months ago, said that a church hall was as necessary for the parish as the church itself.  Then again, Archdeacon Sandford uttered a plea on behalf of the church hall the other week at Hooton Pagnell, when he declared that it was a vital necessity.

Seeing that Swinton is not developing in nearly the same ratio as the neighbouring townships, it might be urged that there was no need for a church hall.  Hitherto, church meetings, Sunday school, and social functions have had to be held in the National Schools, and now the church folk felt that they should have premises of their own, and when completed they will form an imposing and handsome addition to St. Margaret’s Church.  The cost is approximately £1,500, and the work of the contractors, Tyas and Guest of Swinton, includes the provision of a large hall, four class rooms, and the usual conveniences.  The building will be of brick.  The architect is Mr. J. E. Knight of Rotherham.


Saturday afternoon saw the ceremony of laying the corner stone of the hall, and there was a large gathering of clergy and people.  The proceedings were marked by a quiet simplicity.  There was no speech making, and the whole affair was over inside an hour.  Precisely at three o’clock the surpliced choir of St. Margaret’s, followed by the clergy, appeared on the platform, and the Right Rev. Bishop of Sheffield (Doctor Quirk) presided over a company which included, Archdeacon Sandford (Vicar of Doncaster), Canon W. H. F. Bateman, R.D. (Vicar of Mexborough), Rev. W. Keble Martin (Vicar of Wath), Rev. F. W. Shepherd (Vicar of Kilnhurst), Rev. W. J. Peacey (Vicar of Newington), and formerly of Swinton. Rev. C. Steele (Vicar of Swinton), Rev. A. Wilson (assistant curate of Swinton), Rev. I. Middleton (curate in charge of St. Michael’s), Mrs. Warde-Aldam (Frickley Hall), Mrs. Steele, Mrs. Peacey, Mrs. Wilson, and others.  The Boy Scouts were also in attendance.

In laying the stone Mrs. Warde-Aldam used a silver trowel, which was inscribed, “St. Margaret’s Church Hall, corner stone laid by Mrs. Warde-Aldam, November 1st. 1913”.  A collection was taken on behalf of the church hall funds which realised £15. 13 shillings.


The Oldest Residence in Swinton- Mirfield Cottage


Mirfield Cottage is on the immediate left. There is only that property and Orchard House opposite that remains today

Situated on Fitzwilliam Street the earliest document regards the house is 1592 when it was left from father to daughter but the property is much older than that.  It is constructed of oak beams and small stone held with horse hair lime, it is believed it could date back to the 14th century.  The house was originally the residential part of a farm.  It was originally a house with a barn attatched.  It remained in this use until the 1700’s when the property and lands were aquired by the Marquis of Rockingham (Fitzwilliam Estate, Wentworth).  They downgraded the farm to a smallholding and constructed a new state of the art ‘model farm’ on the field at the side of the house.  This is where the Pinfold Estate stands today.

Mirfield Cottage only aquired that name in the 1920’s when it was aquired by the Liversidge family and Mrs Henry Liversidge named it accordingly.  Henry was an Overman at the Manvers colliery.


Henry Liversidge



1927 New Year Celebrations



New Year celebrations appear to have been of a very quiet nature in Swinton this year, and even the customary bells and buzzers which herald the coming of a New Year were conspicuously quiet.  The weather was very pleasant on January 1st, and a large number of persons assembled near the racecourse in the hope of seeing the meet of the Wentworth Hunt.  They were disappointed, however, for the meet, usually held in Swinton on this date was elsewhere.

The Council has been invited to consider, with a view to suitable recognition, the gallantry of a Queen Street youth a few months ago.  The act referred to, a report of which appeared in this column at the time, was one in which a child was rescued from drowning.  The rescuer, Fred Kirby, aged 19, noticed the signals of an elderly man near the spot where the boy fell into the water, and after running more than 200 yards plunged in and recovered the sinking boy.

Details are to hand of the distribution of bread at the Station Street Working Men’s Club during the recent stoppage.  Nearly 21,000 loaves, purchased at a cost of £374, were given at the rate of two loaves weekly to all member’s children under 14 years.  This generous supply entailed much work for the secretary, Mr. Tomblin and all the officials, and they are deserving of the highest praise.  The steward of this club, Mr. T. Michael, who has very efficiently looked after the welfare of 500 members for twelve years, has resigned, much to the regret of the officials.  Applications for the position are pouring in, and his successor is to be decided upon in a fortnight’s time.

The United Service’s Fund, money accrued from canteen profits during the war, which is constantly coming to the aid of ex-soldiers in distress, has ceased making monetary grants, and in future only gifts in kind will be made. The hon. Secretary Mr. J. Jagger, is responsible for the supply of goods.


Four cases of smallpox were notified at Swinton this week, three being in one house in Frederick Street, on Wednesday, and the other occurring in Walker Street.


Barbers in Swinton

RON JAMES – This article small, but a wealth of info of times long gone in the barbers trade in Swinton.  Vin Grant as he was always referred to was my first barber to cut my hair and although I cannot remember my father taking me the first time, I bet I screamed the place down.  Vin’s wife was very beautiful, and I remember her having long auburn hair, and in children they had a boy and girl.  The girls name eludes me for the minute, but the boy’s name does not, being Tony.  The times I have played football with him on the pitch next to Bowbroom’s alongside the canal.  He followed in his fathers trade having a hairdressing shop across from the Kings Head pub, but died very young, not like his father.  I have tried finding when he died but to no avail, but I believe Vin died in 1995.  Vin lived at the top of Racecourse Road on the right going up, and he would have had a grand view looking from his back garden.  He mentions in the article that he has records of the shop in 1909 being a barbers, well we can go further back than 1909.  I have looked on the census returns for 9 Station Street, to the 1901, 1891 and 1881, and on each a hairdresser is in residence.  The 1901 shows a John T. Murfin, the 1891 has a William Moore,and the 1881 shows Asa Garfitt.  Looking at the 1871 census, it gives Station Street but no house or shop numbers, so I went all through the addresses without coming across a hairdresser.


George Vincent Grant



Wireless Relay Service

Extract from Mexborough & Swinton Times 27/11/1931


Several members of Swinton Council visited Dewsbury last Saturday, at the invitation of the Wireless Relay Services Company, to inspect the system it is proposed to install in Swinton, subject to the approval of the Council.  There is much to commend the scheme, providing, as it does, wireless service of a quality only obtainable in the best sets at absolutely no trouble to the listener.  It appeals to three classes of people, those who have neither the time nor inclination to trouble with the installation and care of a set; those living in areas affected by outside influences such as trams, and those who cannot afford the initial outlay of a modern, efficient set.

The Council is officially concerned only in the rent and rates which will accrue and in granting permission to cross roads with wires.  There is, however, one other aspect to consider, the effect on wireless traders who are already paying rates.  Actually in Swinton, there is not one business solely occupied with wireless and, seeing that the subscribers to the new service would not be those owning or likely to own sets, the effect on the local wireless trade would be negligible.

The details of the scheme have been given before.  Briefly, a powerful receiving set will be installed centrally, and from this will radiate main lines similar to those employed in the telephone service.  Service wires are carried from house to house and mainly beneath the eaves; and connections are made to those.  A socket (into which the loud-speaker cord is plugged) and a volume control is mounted on a small wooden block in a convenient place and-that’s all.

The relaying begins at 10 a.m. and continues till midnight; listeners plug in at will and regulate the volume to their liking.  Cost of the service is 1s. 6d. a week, plus the hire-purchase of the loud-speaker of which there are two models available; one, a low priced instrument and the other a superior and more expensive type.  An extra sixpence a week for the former type buys the speaker, and there is no binding contract or deposit but listeners must obtain the ordinary licence.  If the approval of the Council is given, the service will start immediately.



Swinton Grange – The Town’s Medical Services in the 20th Century

Swinton Grange

The property was built in 1865 as a gentleman’s residence with outbuildings for stabling horses, housing carriages and other general storage.  It was originally named Hollybank.

The house was just one of several substantial properties that had been built in this period as the old village of Swinton was transforming into a growing town of industrial prominence.

Close by Swinton House was lived in by John Stainforth Beckett and Swinton Hall was lived in by Miss Beckett.  Earl Fitzwilliam’s agent and other notables such as David Cowan, Gent, Francis Sorby, Gent and John Scaife, Gent, all had large houses in the vicinity.  The population in 1801 was 653, but this had risen to 12,217 in 1901.

The property remained as a single dwelling house until 1901 when it was acquired by Dr Sidney O Hatherley.  This commenced its association with medicine and health.  Previously the sick of the town had been cared for by Dr Clement Blythman who lived on Milton Street and then by Dr M M Jones.

The rising population required extra medical facilities which Dr Hatherley created, making maximum use of the available space at his new home.

Following the death of Dr Hatherley his colleague Dr Campbell continued in residence.  Following his death the property was extended and converted into a care home for the elderly.  Substantial repairs, improvements and enhancements were made to the property by the current owners over the last few years who continue the tradition of caring for local people to a high standard.


Dr S O Hatherley

Sydney Oldhall Hatherley was born at Ripon in 1871.  He was the son of primitive methodist preacher Henry Hatherley and his wife Elisabeth.  He was the youngest of four sons.  He travelled around in his childhood as his father took up various ministries before finally settling in Mexborough.

He studied medicine at the University College of Sheffield whilst working part time as a chemist’s assistant.  In 1896 he qualified as a member of the Royal College of Surgeons and also as a Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians of London.  He started general practice in Mexborough in 1896 residing at Sharrow Lea on Main Street.


Doctor Hatherley

In 1901 following the death of the owner of Hollybank he moved to Swinton taking up residence and renaming the property Cliff Field House. This was taken from the old field name where the house was built.  The premises were large enough to not only serve as his home but also as his consulting surgery and a dispensary.  He lived at the property attended by 2 servants. From there he provided much needed extra medical facilities for the town of Swinton.

He established himself as a leading medical practitioner in South Yorkshire. Whilst at Swinton he acted as –

  • Medical Officer of Health for Swinton (1910 -1947).
  • Police Surgeon.
  • Factory Surgeon.
  • Child Welfare Medical Officer.
  • President of the Sheffield Medico-Chirurgical Society.
  • Honorary Surgeon to Mexborough Montagu Hospital for 40 years.

At the age of 28 in 1899 he married the matron Miss Annie Elizabeth Moore of Mexborough; they had 4 daughters and one son.  Three of the daughters followed in their father’s footsteps and qualified as doctors.

The eldest daughter Mona, qualified first having attended Sheffield University where she obtained a degree in medicine.  Following her marriage she entered medical practice in Consett in County Durham.

Second daughter Edith also attended Sheffield University obtaining an M.B and B.CH as also did the third daughter, Bessie. Edith went onto become a specialist Ophthalmic Surgeon in Sheffield and in Barnsley as well as maintaining a general practice from her residence at Rockingham Lodge, Wath on Dearne.

Their son Sydney died aged 30 in 1934 after falling ill in France.  He was the first person to have his cremation arranged by long established funeral directors C T Butterfield of Swinton.

Dr Hatherley was instrumental in developing Mexborough Montagu from a cottage hospital, situated on Bank Street, to a purpose built hospital complete with an operating theatre and multiple wards.  He approached Andrew Montagu of High Melton Hall to try and secure a suitable site that was available on the corner of Adwick Road and Cemetery Road.  The sale was conducted much less than market price.

After securing the site he chaired the committee that approached various local bodies for financial support to build the new ‘state of the art’ premises.  This project was readily supported as a new hospital would particularly benefit the increasing local industrial workers and the rising population.

Support was received from the miners, various colliery companies, the Great Central Railway Company, London Midland Scottish Railway, the Coop movement as well as many individuals.  Building commenced in 1904 and the new hospital opened in 1907.

Dr Hatherley took a great interest in Freemasonry and over the years rose up the ranks.  He was involved in the Masons acquiring  the premises on Station Street, Swinton which they still occupy today.

In his later years he also attended surgery at Rockingham Lodge, Wath on Dearne along with his daughter Edith.

He died on the 14th May 1958 aged 87.  His will declared an estate of £19,869.

Mrs A E Hatherley (nee Moore)

Annie Elizabeth Moore was born in Mexborough in 1866.  Answering the desperate call for more competent nurses she commenced medical studies and trained to be a nurse.  She started work at the newly opened Montagu Cottage Hospital in 1889 and excelled in her duties.  She was renowned for her love of children and the sympathetic nursing techniques she used to comfort anxious youngsters awaiting operations and undergoing treatment.  On her own she looked after more than a dozen patients and oversaw all the administration.

Mrs AE Hathersley (nee Moore)

In 1890 more staff were recruited and the new elevated position of Matron was created to which she was appointed.  She remained in post until 1899 when her marriage and raising a family intervened.

Mrs Hatherley maintained her interest in the hospital and in 1910 took over as President of the Montagu Hospital Ladies Committee.  They constantly acted as fund raisers and helpers.  The need to acquire the latest medical equipment was ongoing so the committee had much to do.


Children’s Ward- Montagu Hospital.


Dr Ian Campbell

Ian Campbell was born in Scotland in 1905.  After training to be a doctor and surgeon he came newly qualified to join Dr Hatherley’s medical practice in 1928.  As a qualified surgeon he along with Dr Hatherley assisted with operations at the Montagu Hospital.  Over the years he proved to be a great friend to the local industries as he was always willing to attend on-site to treat any injured workers.

At Manvers Colliery he attended to an injured miner who had been involved in changing the rope on one of the colliery winders.  He had to amputate the man’s leg in order to free him.  He received an award for this but maintained that it was all in the call of duty.  Over the years he went underground several times to treat the injured.

On Tuesday 18th May 1948, he was again in action treating the injured at the Manver’s Rail Disaster.  The train left St Pancras station at 11.45am heading for Bradford.  As it reached Manvers it was derailed as the lines had buckled with the heat.  The accident happened at the top of a 30 foot embankment.  Train driver Bert Wilshire was killed and there were a further 7 fatalities with 32 others severely injured requiring hospital treatment.  He scrambled around the wreckage on the embankment treating as many as he could.


Doctor Ian Campbell

Following the death of Dr Hatherley in 1958 he took over the general practice with others. He took up residence in the house along with his wife Laura.  He was a great chess lover and also a keen sportsman.  He loved playing cricket and tennis; he took up squash when in his 60’s.

He was also a staunch Rotarian being a member of the Mexborough branch for many years.

He remained active as a physician until his death in June 1982.  His secretary for many years was Mrs Jean Hirst of Kilnhurst.


dr ram bill - Copy

A medical services bill from Dr Ram who was also a surgeon. Although a Mexborough Health practice Swinton Residents used to utilise the neighbouring town’s Doctors. This bill was to Mr White of Bridge Street.


letter re health costs

As there was no Health service charitable medicine was sought. This Bridge Street resident was catered for by this method.

Untitled-7 copy

lodge rules

Savings clubs flourished pre National Health Service. This one operated in the town.


Young Willis the son of Willis Humphries commercial photographer followed like his father in the photographic trade having one of the two little shops underneath the railway bridge next to the Canal Tavern.  Many times I have called in around 1948 – 51 and watched him hand paint some of his wedding photo’s, sadly as I have noted from “Ancestry” he died very young.  His father is pictured on the front elevated part of the Swinton library with other photographers on the 1953 Coronation Day film showing the York Herald and Councillor Shaw.  I have doctored the photo which shows Willis Humphries (senior) fishing on the canal more or less near the Canal Tavern yard and where his son lived.  Among the photo collection it shows the terraced houses in the yard and also shots of inside, most likely Willis (Junior’s) house.





Opening of Swinton Nurses Home -1935


How Swinton Celebrated the Coronation Day of Queen Elizabeth II 

Queen Elizabeth II Coronation

The Coronation day of 2nd June 1953 was a day that Swinton was determined to celebrate in style.  As early as October 1952 a local entertainment’s committee, under the chairmanship of Mr Townsend, had been planning a spectacle which the people of Swinton would remember for many years to come.

On coronation day evening, a pageant procession assembled at the old market place off Rowms Lane.  The procession comprised of tableaux depicting the Queens who have ruled England through the ages – Boadicea, Elizabeth 1, Anne and Victoria.  It journeyed through the decorated streets of Swinton to the Miner’s Welfare Ground on Park Road.  Participants in the pageant included Mexborough Theatre Guild, St. Michael’s, St. John’s Methodist, & the Congregational Church;  Youth Clubs, Scouts, Brownies, Guides, the Army Cadet Force, pupils of Miss G. Lines and the Swinton Bridge Methodist Church.  Music was provided by the British Ropes Band and members of the British Legion marched as pike men.  Youth was however the keystone of the day’s events.  At that time youth organisation was very much affiliated to the town’s various church denominations.  All came together to play their part.

Once the parade reached the Welfare Ground at around 6.50 p.m. the evening’s programme of events commenced.  Infants from Queen Street and Swinton Bridge schools performed Maypole Dancing.  Country dancing by children from Swinton Fitzwilliam Primary followed next.  Technology played its part when a recording of the Queens 21st birthday speech from South Africa was played via loud speakers.  Just before 9.00 p.m. the National Anthem was sung and prayers were led by Rev. Hugh Quarrell.  From 9.00 p.m. onwards an orchestral & choral concert was laid on to entertain the crowds.  The orchestra was that of Mr Kennedy of Mexborough with the whole of the musical programme being under the direction of Wilfred Waddington.

To finish off the evenings celebrations the Chairman of Swinton Urban District Council, Councillor Ernest Shaw, ignited a massive bonfire this was followed by a grand fireworks display.


The memorable evening was not however, the sum total of Swinton’s Coronation celebrations.  The town’s school children had special celebratory teas and were presented with souvenirs by the West Riding Education Authority.  Pre-school children received a coronation mug distributed through the public library and clinics.  The older folk were not forgotten.  On Saturday 6th June the Old Peoples Treat Fund Committee prepared a tea, a musical concert and gave a gift to all pensioners who were over 65 on that day.  The ladies of the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service held a special treat for the Derby & Joan Club.  A further project during the year was a local publication “A History of Swinton” written by the popular vicar of St Margaret’s Rev. H. W. Quarrell.  On Sunday 7th June a United Coronation Service was held at 3pm in St. Johns Methodist Church.  Longer lasting was the purchase by the Council of the Rockingham Pottery site for playing field purposes.  This project brought the historic Waterloo Kiln into public ownership for the first time.  Further land was obtained at the junction of Broomville Street opposite the Canal Tavern to create more public open space in the form of a garden.

The British people had become the new Elizabethans.  They were determined to celebrate in style and no doubt most other communities had similar festivals and Coronation Year public projects.

The ceremony in London was covered by a huge outside broadcast television operation for the first time.  Many people went out and bought a telly for the first time.  They watched the event with their neighbours who didn’t have a set.

Post war Britain in the early 1950s was booming.  There were lots of jobs around; much building of desperately needed new homes was underway.  The still new National Health Service was making an outstanding contribution to the improving health of the nation.  More generous old age pensions and help for families were measures which were starting to eradicate the worst of the dire poverty which had been around for so long.


Coronation Day Parade

In the wider world at this time things were not so certain.  The violent and bloody Korean War had just ended in a rather temporary looking treaty.  Britain’s armed forces had plenty to occupy them in various far flung locations of the old empire as “anti-colonial” conflicts began to flare up.  France was getting into worsening difficulties in Vietnam.  The Soviet Union’s grip was ever tightening in Eastern Europe and the Cold War looked as if it could become hot at any time.  An atomic war looked a real probability.

How good it must have seemed in June 1953 to put aside the cares of an ever complicated world and celebrate wholeheartedly the coronation of Britain’s new young Queen.


 1897 Celebrations


The Queens Jubilee celebration committee

Death of Councillor John Bingham- formerly Landlord of the Canal Tavern




Swintons Civic Sunday

Extract from the Mexborough & Swinton Times issue 15/5/1936

Civic Sunday, celebrated at Swinton Parish Church on Sunday brought a ready response from local organisations.  The procession, with the uniforms of the Swinton Town Band and the Girl Guides and Boy Scouts making a splash of colour in the brilliance of a May morning, assembled at the Market Place, and marched via Bridge Street, Station Street, and Church Street.

In the procession were Police Sergeant Smith and constables, the Swinton Town Band, Mr. J. H. Wilkinson (chairman) and other members of the Council, with officials, detachments of the Men’s and Woman’s divisions of the St. John Ambulance Brigade, representatives of the British Legion, the old men’s retreat, and the Swinton troop of Girl Guides, Boy Scouts, Wolf Cubs and Brownies.


The Processional march through the town.

The Story of the Swinton Badge

Swinton acquired its own town badge as a consequence of the extensive celebrations held around the accession of Queen Elizabeth II.  Swinton Urban District Council (which included Kilnhurst) was established in 1894 however the town had no civic regalia.

In 1953 Mr Turner presented a new chain of office toCouncillor Ernest Edgar Shaw, Chairman of Swinton Urban District Council, to celebrate the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and to mark the completion of Mr Turner’s fifty years of residence in Swinton.  Miss E K L Harrop provided the smaller chain for use by the Chairman’s Consort.  Mr Turner was the proprietor of the South Yorkshire Times newspaper and resided at The Beeches a large three story property off Fitzwilliam Street.  Miss Edith Harrop and other of her family had been great benefactors to the Swinton district over many years; at the time of the presentation she lived in London.


The Misses Harrop sit from row centre.

The design of the badge was well planned to represent pictorially some of the town’s history and importance.  The badge is divided into quarters.

In the first quarter the picture shows a dragon vase – one of the word-famed products of the Rockingham Pottery Works.

The second quarter pictures a pair of railway wheels, to perpetuate the part played by the railways which traverse the district.  The first railway passing through Swinton opened on June 30th 1840.  Further links were added with the opening of the Great Central Railway in 1871.  The wheels also symbolise the part played by the iron and steel industries in the economic life of the people and the industrial progress of the district.  Railway wheels were manufactured at Whitelea Road, Swinton and large numbers of people were employed in other metal related manufacturing industries.

The colliery pithead shaft in the third quarter reflects the importance of the mining industry to the Swinton area.  For some three hundred years coal has been extracted commercially from land within the township of Swinton.  Coal was originally obtained from outcrops, shallow pits, opencasts and the drift method, switching in the 1860’s to coal production from large-scale deep mines.  Coal mining began to decline as a major source of local employment during the 1980’s and the closure of most of the area’s collieries has had major economic, social and environmental consequences for the region.

Finally, the fourth quarter shows the entrance to Creighton Woods, the Lych Gate at Warren Vale Road.  The Lych Gate is built in oak timbers and rustic brick and designed by Mr Harold Goodwin, Engineer and Surveyor to Swinton Urban District Council.  Miss E L K Harrop would have been especially pleased that her gift to the town was included in the crest.  It is known as the ‘sister’s gate’ because Miss Harrop wished it to be regarded as a joint gift from herself and her late sister Miss Beatrice M R Harrop.  The gate stands as a memorial to those who served in two World Wars and forms a notable entrance to Creighton Woods, public woodlands purchased by the Council in 1948 from Earl Fitzwilliam for a nominal price.

The Chairman of the Council would wear the chain of office when presiding at council meetings, attending official engagements and representing the town elsewhere.  The Consort would wear their chain at social events or when accompanying the Chairman.

When Swinton Urban District Council was abolished by legislation in 1974 the Chairman’s and Consorts chain fell out of use.  The chains can however still be viewed at Rotherham Town Hall along with other civic regalia from councils which were also absorbed when Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council was created.

A number of Swinton councillors have become Mayors of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council; Roland Benton in 1977, Douglas Thompson in 1982, Michael Eagleton in 1988 and Oscar Hartley in 1991.  These have all been required to wear the very fine chain of office of the old County Borough of Rotherham.

The Old Toll House Demolition




The Deaf Mute Achiever – Son of Athlete Alfred Liversidge


An “Eloquent” Old Swinton Gardener

Extract from Mexborough & Swinton Times 2/8/1935

There is in Swinton a deaf and dumb gardener who will “talk” to you about anything from Alstroemeria Umbellatus rock plants to gorgonzola cheese with great fluency.  He has just retired from the service of the Swinton Urban District Council at the age of 66.  He has never learned the deaf and dumb alphabet, but is able to communicate by simple signs.  Get him to talk about the test team, and you’ll be surprised.

Mr. Alfred Liversidge, of Middleton Villas, Fitzwilliam Street, Swinton, was 66 on July 21st.  Sixty-four years ago, an attack of typhoid fever left him without speech or hearing, but by the time he was ready to work, with his father at the Don Pottery, he was able to make himself understood and to understand.  To-day, if you try “chatting” with him, you will discover how agile his brain must be.  You will be fascinated beyond belief by the manner in which his friends “translate” his rapid, and seemingly meaningless movements.  They will watch him nonchalantly and speak for him.

Very simply, this week, he “told” me (through an interpreter), the story of his life, from childhood to the time when he became a coachman, employed by Mr. David Ward, of Swinton House, and later by Mr. E.D.F. Fossett.  For many years he was a gardener to the late Mr. F.L. Harrop, and when the Council took over Highfields he continued his employment as a gardener and he has held that position for some 36 years.

In the bright sitting room of his home, which he has made with his brother, Mr. Ernest Liversidge, you will find many pictures of gardens in summer glory.  This old gardener is passionately fond of flowers.  He told me how he enjoyed judging at shows and how even experts sought his advice.

See how simple he makes things when you are “initiated”.  To indicate the passing of a day he will tilt his head in imaginary sleep.  The passing of a week is represented by a hearty rub of clenched fists-meaning wash-day.  To indicate a year he will point to different levels on his chest, meaning that he grows a little each year.  Pork is indicated by a murderous sign of throat-cutting; mutton, an imitation of the long nose of the sheep.  When he talks of beef he milks an imaginary cow.  As I left, I thought up a good one for him.

“Tell me”, I asked his brother, “how he would tell you he was going to London by rail”? He had it in a jiffy.  Finger “picture” of a railway ticket, imitation of an engine, and a circle round his head (for the King’s crown ), and there we had it as plain as the proverbial pikestaff.  At home he is just “Alf”.  They talk to him about anything.  Sometimes he joins them in an outing to the pictures (a flicker of his eyes and imaginary applause).  He likes “wild West yarns.” But his greatest enjoyment is in a garden.  He has a number of very amusing gestures to describe well-known figures in Swinton, and his images are so distinct that if you know Swinton, you have no doubt who it is.

On my desk blooms a fragrant pink cluster of “wax” flowers.  They were cut from a plant which is the only one of its kind in the district. Mr. Liversidge assured me of this with many grave nods and important gestures.  A pretty souvenir of a man whose heart has lived in a garden for so many years.



Newspaper Articles 28th August 1807



Clifton House School






Charles William Fretwell

(Headmaster, Swinton Bridge Boy’s School)

    Charles William Fretwell was born in 1854 at Hull in East Yorkshire, the son of John Naylor Fretwell and Hannah Judith nee Wilson, his father a customs officer, having been born in Reedness, near Goole, Yorkshire. By the time of the 1871 census, it showed that the children of John and Hannah were making good, for their elder son Robert age 19 was an assistant teacher, Charles William age 16 was a pupil teacher, with Alfred age 13 an oil merchant’s clerk.

Moving on to 1881 and now age 26, we find that after all the teacher training that Charles has done, he has become a certificated elementary school teacher and headmaster of the Swinton Bridge Boy’s School, living in Swinton, near Rotherham. Still single, he has found lodgings with a Thomas Currier and his wife Mary at 62, Fitzwilliam Street.

As to when Charles came to Swinton is not known, but probably as a young teacher to take over the headship of the boy’s department of the newly erected school on September 2nd  1878. While living as a lodger with the Currier family, Charles struck up a relationship with a teacher living in Kilnhurst by the name of Katherine Nicholson. Having been born in Harewood near Leeds, to parent’s John and Mary Ann Nicholson, she like Charles had gone into teacher training.

Katherine’s father John, was a master blacksmith and farrier, and her elder brother Matthew had also completed a teacher training course, but her other two brothers John and Samuel had taken up their family business and become blacksmiths. On completion of the teacher training course, and being fully qualified, she left home and made her way to become a teacher at the village of Marr near to the Great North Road, now the A1.

At that time 1871, Marr had a population of 210, and of those, 50 were children attending the only school in the village, supported by the owner of Brodsworth Hall, Charles Sabine Augustus Thellusson.  Meanwhile, Katherine had found lodgings with the family of Edward and Martha Athron, Edward being a carpenter by trade. A few years later we find that Katherine had moved again, still as a teacher, but living now in the industrial town of Kilnhurst. She had found lodgings with a newly married couple, they being George and Mary Ridgeway, and their two year old son William, father George was a coalminer. The address was 3, Hooton Road, with the Ship Inn Public House at number 1.

It would be the big influx in population due to the flourishing local industry, that we find many families from far and wide coming to find work, and also wanting education for the children. The first school built was the National School, erected in 1872, with a further Board School under the Swinton Board School being erected in 1879. As can be imagined, they needed teachers, hence the arrival of Katherine Nicholson.

As mentioned earlier, Katherine had formed a relationship with Charles William Fretwell, headmaster of Swinton Bridge Boys School, and on Thursday 14th of April 1881 they were married at St. Thomas Church, Kilnhurst, officiated by the Rev. Henry T. Cordeaux, Vicar of Kilnhurst. Where they set up the matrimonial home is not clear, but on the 1891 census they are living in the Villas behind the Sportsman Inn on Fitzwilliam Street, Swinton.

    By some strange coincidence, they were living at number 54, and next door at 53, was Mr. Joseph Aquila Bower and his family, now what is strange in that you might ask. Well it so happens that the man who built Swinton Bridge Board School in 1878 was Mr. Joseph Aquila Bower, for as well as being a building contractor, he was also a farmer. Could it have been, that Joseph in building the Swinton Bridge School, and “The Villas”, arranged for headmaster Mr. Fretwell and family to come and live next door to him?

    Over the coming years, four children were born to the Fretwell household, two boys and two girls, their first child was Enid, born 1882, Charles Nicholson, 1884, William Alfred, 1886, and Jessie, 1887. All four would follow like their parents in the teaching profession, making a unique academic family, and it seems that the running of the home, and bringing up of the four children, did not allow Katherine to continue as a teacher.

The family still resided at 54, The Villas, up to the 1911 census, but their next door neighbour Joseph Aquila Bower had left a number of years ago. Due to his successful business, he moved to “Thornleigh” on Station Street in Swinton, but as his business got even better, he moved back to Fitzwilliam Street, this time to live in the grandeur of “Swinton Hall”.

After the Great War of 1914/18, and serving as the headmaster of Swinton Bridge Boys School for close on forty years, the time came for Charles William Fretwell to retire at the age of 65. At some stage in time, he and wife Katherine decided to leave Swinton and spend their retirement years away from the smoke laden air, to the refreshing air of Birstwith near Harrogate. What a change it must have been, but probably brought memories back to Katherine where only about a dozen miles away further south is Harewood where she was born and grew up.

Many happy times must have been spent at Birstwith, and with Harrogate only 7 miles away, a trip there shopping for food, clothes etc., would have been an event. They had settled in a new row of stone cottages, situated on the Darley Road, and facing open fields and meadows. Sadly, it would be Katherine who would pass away first on Sunday 27th of August 1933 at the age of 80.

Another fifteen years would go by, and at the age of 94, Katherine’s husband Charles passed away. The year was 1948, and it seems strange that in that same year, the man that took over from him in 1918 as headmaster, John Samuel Gough, also died, and just 20 miles away in Halifax.


Bevis Watson Baker

(Teacher, Swinton Bridge Boy’s School)

      Bevis Watson Baker was born in 1887 at Whitley in the West Riding of Yorkshire, to parents Joseph and Miriam nee Watson. His father on the 1891 census, is down as a blacksmith and engine driver born Whitley, with Miriam having been born at Gowdall, both towns six miles apart, and about ten miles East of Pontefract. As can be imagined, Bevis’s middle name was acquired from his mother’s maiden name, and Bevis, from his mother’s eldest brother.

After leaving school, Bevis went on a teacher training course, and it was while he was doing his training that his father Joseph died in 1903 at the young age of 45. Being a blacksmith, Joseph had also bought a thrashing machine, which at harvest time would no doubt have brought in extra money into the Baker household. In all, five children were raised, three boys and two girls, with eldest to youngest being, Joseph W., Harriet A., Bevis W., Samuel and Caroline J.

Both elder son Joseph and Bevis were given Watson as their second Christian name, and for some reason or other, Joseph would leave the family and live with his Grandparents a few miles away at Hensall. They were his mother’s parents Samuel and Harriet Watson, and both were aged 60 years of age at the time of the 1891 census, with Samuel being a farmer. Just three years would go by, and on the 26th of July 1894, Samuel would pass away, leaving just Harriet and Grandson Joseph.

At the time Grandson Joseph would be age 14, and having left school, was managing the farm with help from Harriet. As time went by and come the 1901 census, Harriet is age 70 and down as a farmer, with Joseph now 20 and classed as a farm manager. Only a matter of weeks would go by after the census, and sadly Harriet would pass away on the 6th of June age 71. At some time later, with Joseph on his own, he decides to move from Hensall to the mining town of Conisbrough.

Having learnt the art of farm management, he becomes a farm bailiff and head of Birk Lodge, and probably due to the death of father Joseph, he invites his widowed mother, sister Harriet, and brother Bevis to come and live with him. Birk Lodge is certainly a large building, situated close to Lodge Farm in an area close to the Hill Top Inn,(now Hill Top Hotel)  it has 11 rooms, and living in are two servants, one a 24 year old waggoner, and  a 15 year old boy as a cow boy.

At this particular time in1911, Bevis is aged 23, single, and now an assistant elementary school teacher. Living over in Old Goole is a young lady called Eveline Plowes also aged 23, and like Bevis, a schoolteacher. They both would have probably started on the teacher training course together as she lived in Old Goole, about a dozen miles away from Whitley. At some time or other, a relationship sprang up, and a date when they both married, would be remembered in more ways than one.

It was on the 4th of August 1914 at Goole, that Bevis Watson Baker married Eveline Plowes, the day that Britain declared war on Germany. Eveline had lived at 72, Swinefleet Road, Old Goole, with parents James William and Ellen nee Wood, James being an insurance agent. Bevis and Eveline set up home at 78, Beckett Road, Doncaster, and continued with their teaching careers. The war was raging in France, and many men were signing up to go and fight for their country, and so did Bevis.


    The date was 20th of November 1915 when Bevis signed up as Regimental No. 77710 Gunner Bevis W. Baker of the Royal Garrison Artillery Regiment, and after training, was sent over to France. This would be the time like so many, when wives and parents would have been praying for a safe return of their loved ones. After certain engagements, and in one action on the 21st of July 1917, Bevis was hit by flying shrapnel which tore through his steel helmet and into his scalp. But for the helmet, one can only say that without it, he most likely would have been killed.

As they say, he lived to fight another day after being treated at a base hospital, but the shrapnel   left its mark, as it left an indentation probably around an inch in diameter near his temple. This entailed having a steel plate put in his fractured skull, and the effects of this would be visible more so in later life when he started to lose his hair. As the war carried on into 1918, and Gunner Bevis still there, he was probably due to the effects of his scalp injury discharged on the 1st of June 1918, having served 2 years and 194 days precisely.

On his return home to 78, Beckett Road, Doncaster, his next duty was to carry on as school teacher at Swinton Bridge Boys School, with a Mr. John Samuel Gough (Headmaster), like Bevis,  returning from having served for King and country. The classrooms of both Bevis Watson Baker and headmaster John Samuel Gough are still visible from Rowms Lane which the school stands alongside. On the extreme right of the building is one of the entrances, marked Boys on the stone surround above the door. Slightly protruding next to the entrance was Mr. Gough’s class, and next to it is a large rectangle class, which was Mr, Baker’s class.

Living in Doncaster and commuting five days a week, would more than likely have been a train journey. 78, Beckett Road where he lived, is around a mile from Doncaster rail station, so a twenty minute walk is all it would take, and when the train arrived at Swinton Central, it left just a five minute walk to the school. Bevis had a good interest in sport, and he would be the one to look after the footballing side of things when he took pupils down to the football field at the side of the Queens Foundry on White Lee Road.

In 1923, Bevis’s wife Eveline heard that her younger brother Herbert had just been married to a girl called Jessie Osborn Smith at Goole, not important now, but later the story unfolds. As to when Bevis retired from teaching, one can only surmise that it was when he reached retirement age around the year of 1952. He and wife Eveline, still living in Doncaster, would I suppose be enjoying retirement, no more commuting to Swinton five days a week for Bevis.

Sad news was to reach Eveline, her younger brother Herbert had died age 62, this was towards the end of 1959 in Goole. Tragedy was not far away again, as only a few months later in early 1960, Eveline passed away age 72, this must have been hard for Bevis, having been married 46 years.          As it happened, Bevis would not be on his own very long, for a relationship with Eveline’s brothers widow Jessie Osborn Plowes, was formed.

One might say that it was not long after his wife had died that he should form this relationship, but with Bevis at the age of 73, time was getting short. And so it was that in the spring of 1961, Bevis and Jessie were married in Goole, Jessie’s home town. Bevis having left Doncaster, set up home at 37, Airmyn  oad, Goole, a far more spacious road than what was at Doncaster. A further four years were to go by, when on the 17th of August 1965, Bevis Watson Baker passed away at the age of 78. Jessie Osborn Baker would live a further nine years before passing away age 76.

Footnote. Swinton Bridge School, opened 1878, and closed 1981.


As we are approaching the centenary of the start of WW1, I  thought I would tell you of a song my Grandmother Lucy James used to sing to me.  As my father was steward, and my mother stewardess of the Victoria Club next to  the library at Swinton, my Grandmother would look after me on a night in the big  kitchen at 52, Crossland Street. She used to sit beside the extra large  Yorkshire range fire in her rocking chair with me sat on her knee, and as we  rocked, she would be singing. One particular song I remember, and I remember it  so well, was a song called “My daddies come home” about a soldier father coming  home on leave in the first World War from France or Belgium. It could be related  to a boy or girl, and these are the words, not a lot, but plenty of meaning, and  it would be repeated, so making it longer.

A number of years ago I recorded on my piano keyboard the music that went  with the words onto a DVD, and took the disc to Ray Hearne on Flintway at  of Swinton. As we sat and listened to the disc on the TV, I  sang those very words to the music. I said at the time, was it a song made  public during the first World War, or a song that my Grandmother had made up of  her own. Ray said that it was the first time he had heard that song, but would  keep the words of the song and see if anything turns up. Some time later, I met  up with him at the Lock Centre at Swinton, and he said that he had not come  across anything to relate the song. Looking at the word of German’s, seems that  it would not be a published song in the sense that it could cause some political  etiquette, not so during the war, but after. More than likely, you can bet with  all the songs that Lucy sang, this was one of her own making. By the way, as we  rocked away, the only light would come from the fire, for who needs the light on  when she is singing me to sleep. I am sending you a photo of Grandmother Lucy  James nee Jagger when a young lady but no date as to when picture taken, but  gives birth and death at the bottom,
lucy james

Lucy James