Swinton Industry and Business

Coal Mining

There had been coal mining activity in the village of Swinton certainly back to medieval times.  Many of these early workings were from scratchings.  This is where the seam of coal reaches the surface at an escarpment.  Evidence of this can be seen at the top of Creighton Wood near the Woodman roundabout, on the right as you enter.  Further scrapings can be found in the Wath wood north end.


More concerted efforts to mine coal took place from two collieries.



Warren VI


The colliery can be seen to the left hand side. This shot was taken just before the first world war. The colliery was closed in 1897.

This was situated at the far end of the town off Warren Vale Road on what is today the ‘Dump it’ site.

The sinking of the colliery (accessed via a small shaft and a Drift) started in the 1840’s, on land owned by Earl Fitzwilliam.  This was not a deep mine with seams being worked less than a 150 metres underground.  Although some coal was extracted en route of establishing the mine serious production did not start until some 10 years later.  J. & J. Charlesworth & Company took the licence from the Estate to mine the coal.  The coal was of good quality being mined from two seams.  The 5 ft. seam was worked at a depth of 90 yards and a 9 ft. seam was worked at 127 yards.

Mined coal was transported down the collier’s Brook valley to Kilnhurst, via a tramway, where it was then taken away by rail and canal.  One problem with the mine was that there was the prescence of Methane gas which if not managed was lethal.

The colliery had  been operating for less than a year when disaster struck.  On the 20th December 1851 an explosion took place.  The appointed steward of the mine carried out his inspection of the workings just prior to the start of the 6am day shift.  Hearing nothing adverse the miners started to enter the mine.  About one hour later a huge underground explosion took place.  Not only those near the colliery but the whole neighbourhood, were shaken by the severity of the explosion.  Smoke and flames burst from the shaft top in an appalling volume.  It was so severe that two tubs of coal, one filled with 16 cwts. (approx. 1650 kg) of coal and one empty were propelled skyward out of the shaft becoming entangled in the headgear.


The miners safety check. This was fetched in later for safety purposes. A miner would have two checks. One he put in a box at the shaft side as he proceeded underground and the other he kept on his person. On leaving the mine he would then deposit this check into the box. The timekeeper would then marry the checks up. This way they knew who was in the mine at any one time. The check kept by the miner whilst underground served to later identify him should the need ever arise.

The report of the explosion was heard three miles away.  The surrounding villages became filled with apprehension, and crowds of persons hastened to the mine to see what could be done.  Clearly things were very serious.

A team of miners were quickly assembled as rescuers.  They needed to get to the men asap.  One of the first tasks was to effect sufficient repairs to the headgear to enable access underground.  The rescuers found and aided 14 injured men and boys and safely brought them to the surface.  By mid-afternoon a further 24 were brought out alive.  Then started the task of removing the dead.  Some of the injured men were returned to their own homes.  Most of the dead bodies were taken to the neighbouring public-houses, including the Star Inn at Rawmarsh.

Eli Barber, along with some 16, other miners was working in the southern portion of the mine when the explosion took place.  They were actually travelling back to the pit shaft.  The secondary explosion arising knocked them off their feet and some were unconscious.  James Froggatt and some other rescuers descended and managed to fortunatly rescue them.

One of the men, Joseph Cooper, had actually reached the pit shaft, and had climbed by the conductors a considerable distance up the shaft.  Of the party rescued, William Barraclough and Timothy Tinsley, later died from their injuries.

It appears that the cause of the explosion which took place in the 9 ft. seam, was brought about following a roof fall.  With the free passage of air being restricted there was a build up of foul air and the deadly methane gas.  The miners were then using candlelight for illumination and igniting of the gas became only a matter of time.

The total death tally was some 51 persons, of these 24 were boys less than 16 years old.  In some instances both father and son were victims.  At the coroner’s hearing there was recorded a verdict of accidental death.  Criticism was laid to the appaling safety record of parts of the coalfield and there was a call for there to be more appointed mines inspectors.  At the time there was only 4 in the whole country.  The rescue work had took 3 days before all the injured and dead were removed.


London Illustrated News regarding the Warren Vale Explosion.

THE FATAILITY LIST OF THOSE KILLED (courtesy of Rotherham.co.uk)

Timothy Tinsley, Rawmarsh, William Bownes, Rawmarsh, J. Purselove, 41 Rawmarsh; J. Purselove, 14 and H. Purselove, 12 (sons); J. Hartley, 31, Rawmarsh, J. Walton junior, 14, Rawmarsh, W. Froggatt, 12 Rawmarsh, W. Garnett, alias Whyke, 41, Rawmarsh; J. Siddons, 21, Lee Brook, Wentworth; J. Johnson, 15, Lane Head; W. Schofield, 26, Lane Head; T. Sylvester junior, 19, Thorpe; G. Sellers, 11, Pinch Row, Swinton (his father injured); G. Hague, 32, Rawmarsh; J. Shepherd, 21, Rawmarsh; Thos Taylor, 27, Upper Haugh; G. Robinson, 23, Rawmarsh; B. Walker, 55, Rawmarsh; S. Siddons, 29, Rawmarsh; W. Cooper. 31, Rawmarsh; H. Goddard, 30, Thorpe; J. Thompson, 31, Rawmarsh; James Roberts, 16, Joseph Roberts junior, 14 (son of Joseph Roberts) labourer; A. Cooper, 41, Kilnhurst; J. Cooper, 16 (son), T. Burgin, Rawmarsh; J. Bugg, 40, Lane Head; B. Lane, Rawmarsh; H. James, 36, Mount Pleasant, Wath; C. Cousins, 35, Pinch Row, Swinton; G. Cousins, 11 (son); T. Johnson, 31, Rawmarsh; H. Thompson, 37, Thorpe; W. Ashton, 13, Rawmarsh; H. Ward, 26, Rawmarsh; T. Farmery, 26, Upper Haugh; H. Lee, 27, Upper Haugh; T. Knapton, 37, Rawmarsh; J. Knapton, 16, (son) J. Westerman, 16, Rawmarsh; W. Hobson, 20, Thorpe; T. Whithead, Rawmarsh; R. Robinson, 18, Rawmarsh; and T. Sylvester, Rawmarsh, (the fire trier)

These above bodies were taken to The Star Inn at Rawmarsh.

George Knapton, George Hague and John Garnick were later found dead.

The following 6 were taken to their family home:

A. Thompson, 27, Upper Haugh; J. Frith, junior, 11, Rose Hill; G. Knapton, 51, Rawmarsh; E. Bugg, 27, Rawmarsh; W. Barraclough, 19, Hooton Roberts (son of C. Barraclough the banksman); and W. Bownes, 18 Rawmarsh (an orphan).


John Purseglove (Purslove) and two of his sons were killed.  John married Dinah Bugg at 1836 in South Normanton, Derbyshire.  Son James was c.1837 in South Normanton.  Son Henry was aged 11 at the time.  They were buried 24th December.

Joseph Frith Jr c.1839 Rawmarsh, son Joseph and Silense, Buried 24th December.

William Barraclough bp 1838 Rawmarsh, son Charles who married Elizabeth Schedley in 1837 in Hooton Roberts.

Richard Robinson c.1834 Rawmarsh, son Richard and daughter Sarah, buried 23rd December

John Walton c.1838 Rawmarsh, son John and Ann Thickett, buried 23 December

James Johnson c.1837 Rawmarsh, son John and Sarah, buried 23 December

James Roberts c.1835 Rawmarsh, son Joshua & Sarah Cousins, buried 24 December

Samuel Siddons aged 29 was buried 23 12 1851 at Greasbrough.

The other boys were:

  • G. Cousins aged 11
  • George Sellers aged 11 (father injured) from Swinton, buried 23 December
  • William Froggatt aged 12 of Warren Vale buried 23 December
  • W. Ashton aged 13
  • Joseph Roberts aged 14 (son of Joseph Roberts)
  • John Walton Jr. aged 14 buried 23 December
  • John Cooper aged 16 buried 23 December
  • John Knapton aged 16 buried 23 December
  • James Westerman aged 16 buried 23 December
  • W. Bownes aged 18 (orphan)
  • Richard Robinson aged 18 buried 23 December
  • Thomas Sylvester Jr. aged 19 buried 23 December
  • S. W. Hobson aged 20

On the Saturday afternoon, a list was provided of those who had survived with comparatively little injury:

  • William Barraclough – he later died
  • Charles Burgin
  • Joseph Cooper
  • William Dodson
  • Thomas Hague
  • Mark Hague
  • William Harrison
  • Joseph Hobson
  • John James
  • Charles King
  • Samuel Peace
  • John Shaw
  • Thomas Shaw
  • Richard Walker


  • Joseph Bownes, Rawmarsh
  • Jonathan Sellars, Rawmarsh
  • Abraham Auty, Rawmarsh
  • James Oates, Rose Hill
  • Eli Barker, Upper Haugh
  • George Linley, Rawmarsh
  • John Harrison, Rawmarsh.

The colliery continued working until 1897.

Swinton Common Colliery

This little known colliery stood on ground flanking Creighton Wood at the side of the Woodman roundabout.  The colliery operated two shafts to shallow seams and was operating in the 1870’s.  The colliery closed finally in 1936.  It was demolished shortly afterwards.


The Swinton Common Colliery can be seen at the bottom of the road on this shot taken from the road aside the Woodman Inn



The headgear of Swinton Common Colliery

The scars left by Swinton Common Colliery’s mining activities can be seen around its original site.  They extend into the adjacent woodland area where mounds and scrapings abound and they are easily identified.

The location of the original pit shaft is easy to find.  It is situated on the open grassland off Woodland Crescent situated between the road and the woodland.  A concrete marker marks the spot.  The surrounding land is periodically inspected even today to ensure no subsidence from the filled in shaft has occurred.


Presss Releases re Coal Mining in Swinton’s Vicinity  – 2nd January 1931

Yorkshire Amalgamated Collieries (Denaby, Cadeby, Maltby, Rossington, Dinnington)  “The outlook for the New Year is uncertain and cannot be said to be promising.  There are possibilities of improvement but hey depend upon an improvement in conditions generally.  The Yorkshire Amalgamated Group last year worked 220 days or an average of a little more than four days a week and probably did better than some of their neighbours.  At any rate, we might have done worse but we certainly look for a time when they will do a good deal better.  Short time is a great factor in increasing overhead costs and that applies particularly to our collieries.  A revival of the export trade by the re-adoption of an export subsidy or by any other means would be a great advantage to us and indeed, to all the collieries in the area, for those not directly benefited by increased export sales would benefit from the relief of the greatly congest inland market.”


Manvers Colliery  “It is quite impossible to predict the course of the coal trade in the coming year.  So much depends on factors which are either unknown or beyond our control.  If the voluntary export subsidy is restored it will probably mean an extra five million tons from the area of the Central Collieries Association and we shall share in the benefit of that directly or indirectly.  Considering the depressed state of trade generally, the year just closed did not work out so badly.  The pits have worked four days a week throughout the year.  We temporarily closed the “Bright” seam on account of the reduced quota.  We are awaiting a general revival of the heavy industries.  If and when that comes, we shall go full steam ahead.”


Glass Manufacturing

The Swinton Glass Works were built for Messrs Rylands, Tillotson and Wilkinson circa 1852 following a dispute with the owners of the Barron glassworks at Mexborough. Tillotson and Wilkinson resided in the Swinton Bridge area, Rylands was from Barnsley.  Their new works was erected on waste land aside the Dearne and Dove canal which offered onsite transport.  Glassmaking was carried out in the traditional method of mouth blowing bottles.  They made bottles for holding mineral water, beer, wines and spirits.  It became known as the South Yorkshire Glass Company.  In 1867 Ben Ryland left and created his own works at Stairfoot Barnsley called the Hope Glass Works.  (This name may have been selected to goad the Barrons as their glassworks at Mexborough was situate on Hope Street).

The business initially ran successfully but then ran into financial difficulties.  This may have been because of slow automation.  The works was then taken over by J and W Wilkinson.  Further problems materialised and the works closed in 1910.  In 1913 Dale Brown and Co ltd purchased the site and took the works over, giving some stability to the works.  Modernisation and automation took place with the new manufacturing taking place from the 1st January 1914.  In 1918 a second furnace was built.  The shift arrangement was for men to work on 2 11 hour shifts, 5 days a week.


Dale Brown Glassworks

Fully automated glass making machines were installed in 1929.  Gas as a fuel was piped in from the manvers colliery works in 1934 giving greater furnace management.  After the second world war large machines were installed that gave capacity of over a million bottles a week.  The company remained in operation on the site until 1962 when the company was absorbed by the Canning Town Glass company.  It then later became part of the United Glass Company.  The works were finally closed in 1988.  The closure was unexpected and suprised many at the time.  The factory appeared to have a full order book.  A few months before closure I (Giles Brearley) went round the factory on an evening tour carried out by the factory manager.  This was for the Mexborough Round Table.  I engaged in conversations regarding future trading and his optimism gave no hints as to what would shortly happen.  I guess that he did not know.  Many of the employees were quite bitter about the fast closure.


There are many stories from former workers as to how jugs of beer were purchased from the Red House public house at the side of the works for the furnace men.

It was only a few years ago that the well know landmark from the factory known as “No 6 shop chimney” was demolished.


From the South Yorkshire Times-October 1920.

Glassworks Fatality – Swinton Man’s Death


An inquest was held on Friday into the circumstances attending the death of George Thomas White (46) of Charles Street, Swinton, a night manager employed at Messrs T Barron’s Glassworks, Mexborough, whose death was recorded in the “Times” last week. Evidence of identification was given by Walter White, 1 Raikes Street, Mexborough, brother of deceased who, he said, had worked in the glass trade all his life. William Smith, 61, Schofield Street, Mexborough, clay mixer, employed by Messrs Barron, said that although he was on the day shift and not due to start work at six o’clock, he usually got there about five thirty. On this morning, when he got there, deceased told him to go over to his place and he (White) would put the dynamo belt on in order to light the work. He went through to the motor and witness did not see him again.By the juror: The light never came on?

Harold Shepherd, 12 Simpsons Place, Mexborough, founder, said that about 5.30 on Thursday morning, he was in No. 4 shop and heard a scream and ran in the direction of No. 2 shop.  Then he heard another moan and looking round, saw deceased hung in the shafting of the room in which the air compressor was.  He was clear of the ground.  His clothes were fast in a cog wheel and his arms were twisted round the shaft.

By the Coroner: There would be room for the body to be drawn round and round and that appeared to witness to have happened.  The cog wheel was superfluous.  In his opinion, the speed of the shaft was twenty revolutions a minute.  He could form no reason as to why or how White got in there.  There was a permanent iron ladder by the shaft.  The motor was still running and had torn all deceased’s clothing away.

The Coroner: It he had come to stop the motor, he must have changed his mind and done something else first? – Yes.In answer to the Inspector of Factories (Mr C C Plumb), witness said there was a good light burning in his part of the works.  The top rail of the three guarding the machinery was broken.Mr Plumb, in answer to the Coroner, expressed himself satisfied with the manner in which the machinery at the work as protected. Summing up, the Coroner stated that while deceased was on his way to the motor room, he noticed a defect in the shaft and climbed the ladder to remedy it.  His coat appeared to have been caught in the wheel and he was thus dragged over and over.

The jury returned a verdict of “accidental death” stating that the blame was attachable to no-one.


 The funeral took place at Swinton Church on Monday, the Rev C W Williams officiating.  Large numbers of workers from Messrs. Barron’s and Waddington’s Glassworks headed the cortege.  Messrs. Thomas, Edward and Joseph Barron represented the firm, Mr J Ford, Messrs Waddington’s Ltd and Mr E Taylor, the Glass Workers.  The mourners were Mrs M White (widow), Mr and Mrs G Lidster (daughter and son-in-law), Misses Amy and Edith White (daughters), Mr and Mrs T Parkes (daughter and son-in-law), Masters George and William Lidster (grandchildren), Mrs S White (mother), Mrs F Sutton (mother-in-law), Mrs S White, Mr and Mrs W White (brother), Mr A White (brother), Mr and Mrs W Sutton, Mr and Mrs S Wood (sister), Misses Phyllis and Lily Wood, Mr and Mrs F Wood, Mr and Mrs W Pearce (sister, Mr and Mrs A White (brother), Mr and Mrs D White (brother), Mrs O Weaver (sister), Mrs W Bailey (sister), Mrs E Oxley, Mrs M Haigh, Mrs A Dannett, Mrs E Jackson, Mrs E Tilly, Mrs M Beardshaw, Mr and Mrs T Meats, Mr and Mrs W Nixon, Mrs E Curtiss, Mrs A Howitt, Mr and Mrs C Taylor, Mr and Mrs J Lockwood, Mr and Mrs L Annables, Mr and Mrs J Hutchinson, Mr J W White, Mr and Mrs T Parkes, Mrs H Sutton, Mr and Mrs W Sutton, Miss G Pearce, Mrs J Hague, Mrs J Rix, Mrs E Pallard, Mr J Carbutt, Mrs B Sutton and Mrs S Sutton. In addition the family wreaths, there were tributes from Mr Thomas Edward Barron, Mr Joseph Barron, Fellow Workers, Messrs Burrows (Glass Technology, Sheffield University), Dr Turner (Sheffield), Mr R Hemmingway, also many others.

The bearers were Messrs G Liversidge, G Strafford, W Taylor, J H Denham, T Jackson, T Cooper, H Swaby and J W Cooper.  The funeral arrangements were carried out by Mr J H White, 60 Bank Street, Mexborough.

Press release 2nd January 1931

Dale Brown & Co Ltd, Swinton, Glass Bottle Works  “I cannot say that the prospects in our industry are very bright but we are hoping for the best and preparing, by the installation of more modern machinery, to take advantage of whatever opportunities the New Year may bring us.  On the whole, we cannot complain of the year that has just passed.  Trade was quite good until June and then it fell away under the influence of the general depression.  In any case, ours is, to some extent, a seasonal trade and we must reckon with fluctuations.  Our chief hope is in a general revival of trade through which we are bound to benefit.”


Hattersley Brothers

The brothers moved to Swinton following the great Sheffield flood of 1864 when the fledgeling business was wiped out.  Thomas and Charles Hattersley relocated their iron foundry to farm buildings situated at the end of Queen Street in the middle section of the town in 1864.  The business prospered and constructed new larger premises aside the railway in 1869.  The construction of the factory incorporated a stone frontage and for the rest used hand made bricks the brothers made on the site.  The works provided employment for hundreds producing stoves and grates.  The site was expanded over the years finally occupying some 10 acres.


Their advertising motto was “More Heat from Less Fuel”. They built up a reputation for quality of goods produced like; The Kempton, Halycon, The Forum Back Boiler, The Swinton Sunk Fire, The Vulcan Gas Boiler, The Merton Convector Fire.


Pattern makers busy at Hattersleys


Press Release 2nd January 1931

Hattersley Bros Ltd, Queen’s Foundry, Swinton. “although the general outlook may not be good, we are hoping to do as well in 1931 as we did last year and possibly in some lines, electric cookers and hearth furniture, even better.  Considering how bad trade is generally, we have no reason to complain of what we did last year. We maintained production on the level of previous years and kept steadily going five days a week which is something to be thankful for”.


G.E.C, Morphy Richards


Aerial Shot of G.E.C

Morphy Richards and the former General Electricity Company – Swinton  Works.

Located close to the present day Swinton Meadows Industrial  Estate the above company occupies a very large site. The premises boundaries  include the former Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway/Great  Central/LNER tracks and the River Don. The area is quite low lying and  has been subject to flooding on numerous occasions including major inundation  in June 2007. Before the opening of the Talbot Road Bridge, road access  to the site was somewhat restricted with a narrow bridge crossing the  railway and canal exiting on New Station Road, or via Carlisle Street,  Kilnhurst.

During the war years the site was a large munitions  factory specialising in armour-piercing bombs and aircraft components.  Massive internal metal doors were fitted to isolate various parts of  the factory should it be subject to an air raid or if fire was to break  out. Large numbers of women worked manufacturing the weapons which would  help win the war against the Axis Powers. At the war’s end the factory  fell in to some disrepair but much of the plant remained on site.

The 1945 Labour government was committed to a major  house building programme to replace stock which was damaged or destroyed  by enemy air raids and to maintain the programme of slum clearance.  These new homes would all have electricity and therefore an unprecedented  demand for electric cookers was created; Britain also had a strong position  as an exporter of manufactured goods at that time.

The Birmingham Cooker works of the General Electricity  Company (GEC) found itself faced with a serious shortage of labour in  the Midlands. The company had always been one of the largest electric  cooker manufactures in Great Britain. GEC directors realised that to  meet the demand at home and overseas they would have to acquire additional  factory premises in an area where there was large enough workforce.  After a good deal of searching they settled on Swinton’s former munitions  works.

It was not a simple task to get production up and running. Much of the plant was unsuitable for conversion to cooker production  and while there was a pool of people in the area very keen to obtain  employment with GEC very few had skills in electrical work. There had to be foundations laid to erect furnaces and other heavy equipment.  A new building was erected to house the pickling, plating, polishing and shot-blast processes and a rail connection and loading docks had to be created at the end of the main building. Government aid through the Ministry of Supply helped to purchase new plant. Incredibly the  first cooker was assembled and dispatched on 27th June 1946-just three months after the acquisition of the factory. This was a fantastic testament to the skill, ingenuity and determination of all involved.

The works soon became the largest cooker factory in the British Empire, occupying 24 acres, with 400,000 square feet of  factory space and employing around 1,200 people. Most of the workforce came from the local area and these were trained by a few instructors from the Birmingham Works.

Over the years the factory diversified to produce other household electrical goods; the last products made in Swinton were toasters.

Today the works are used for warehousing, repackaging and distribution by the Morphy Richards Company. Several hundred people are employed at the Swinton site and other premises at Manvers. Manufacturing is done elsewhere in the world.

Roberts Radio

Roberts Radio’s were made in Hong Kong with the Swinton firm being the main distributors of the radio. Most rooms in Buckingham Palace had a Roberts Radio.


Roberts Radio



Food Manufacture


Swinton is the home of the largest bagel factory in Europe.  Its owner is one of the largest manufacturers in the world, the New York Bakery Co (A Canadian Company).  The Maple Leaf Bakery on the Swinton Meadows Industrial Estate is a modern state of the art bakery.  The factory produces 6-7 million bagels per week.  It opened in the 1990’s and helped provide much needed employment.  The factory has a capacity of some 70,000 bagels every hour.  The company has expanded its Swinton Meadows site four times, the latest investment was in 2011 when some £14m was invested.

A £11.5m infrastructural investment and £3m communications spend from owners, Maple Leaf Bakery UK Ltd was announced in 2011.



The Crown Public House – Licence Problems


The property on the corner used to be the Crown Inn.The original entrance can be seen betwixt the windows.

On Compensation List & Provisional Renewal

Extract from Mexborough & Swinton Times 1921

At the adjourned annual licensing sessions at Rotherham West Riding Police Court, on Monday, an objection was raised to the renewal of the beer house – keeper’s licence of William Rollins, licensee of the Crown Inn, Swinton. Mr. A. S. Furniss appeared for Whitworth, Son, and Nephew, the owners of the house.

Sergeant Hayes, in giving evidence as to the unsuitability of the Crown Inn, said the house was badly situated. It was at the cross roads where White Lee road began, one of the busiest parts of the township. When beer carts were unloading at the house there was always the danger of a serious accident taking place with other traffic taking the corner of White Lee road and colliding.

The house was badly adapted for police observation. There were three doors to the house, and anyone standing at the front door could not see persons leaving by the other doors. There was no frontage to the house for vehicles, and there was no private yard at the rear. The urinal in connection with the house was very close to neighbouring cottages, and in summer time he had noticed a very bad smell from it.

The rooms of the house were, smoke room, tap room, serving bar, and the bagatelle room. The private rooms of the tenant were scullery, living, kitchen, and three bedrooms. On the opposite side of the road there was the Ship Inn, fifty yards away, the Canal Tavern, Don Hotel and Station Hotel were in close proximity to the Crown.

The estimated population of Swinton was 15,000, and the number of licensed worked out at one to every 313 persons. The house was the worst constructed of any in the neighbourhood, and it was less adapted for the sale of liquor.  He had visited the house, and on one occasion found only five persons in the room at 6.45 p.m. On other occasions he had seen from 19 to 23 persons leave the house at closing time. In his opinion there was no necessity for the licence of the Crown Inn.

Mr. Furniss, outlining the case for the owners, said that the house was constructed in 1850, and was one of the oldest in the district. If the owners could satisfy the Bench, they were willing to make structural alterations. Alterations were to have been made to the house in 1913, but the war put a stop to the proposals, and since then they had been unable to do anything owing to shortage of labour.

He contended that there were not too many licenses in Swinton for the 15,000 population. In Swinton there was one house to 313 persons, and in the whole of the West Riding the average was 475 per house. During the past year the house had done a trade of 422 barrels and 466 dozen bottles of beer. In the period since Christmas the trade of the house had greatly increased, especially with regard to bottled beer.

If this house was closed it would mean that there would be like 700 persons who would have to go to the other houses in the district for their beer. Most of those persons would go to the three houses in the immediate vicinity, and that would mean that two hundred persons would seek accommodation at the other houses. The result would be that the accommodation at the neighbouring houses would be severely taxed.

After a long retirement, the Chairman said the Bench had unanimously decided to refer the consideration of the renewal of the licence to the Compensation Authorities on the grounds stated in the notice of objection, and they provisionally renewed the licence.



Swinton Cooperative Society


The Coop occupies the same site as the coop today. The gable end of the Masonic hall can be seen on the left

Swinton was some years behind Kilnhurst in establishing a Co-operative Society and even then, failed to make a success of it.  On the 10th of December 1864, Mr. Henry Pitman of Manchester, a name well-known in other than co-operative circles, addressed a meeting in the National Schoolroom on the advantages of co-operation.  In consequence, Mr. Wilkinson proposed and Mr. Burton seconded a resolution to form a society and 41 members were enrolled.  Among the earliest members were Mr. Larenby, Mr. John Freeman, Mr. James George and Mr. Walter Turner but the venture was a failure.  Many years later, the Barnsley British Co-operative Society opened out in Swinton.


Ward & Sons

The Mineral Water and Bottling Industry Ward & Sons (Swinton) Ltd was situated on Market Street, Swinton on the site of the Builders Merchants today.  This origins spring from efforts circa 1870 by local residents Charles Jackson of Bridge Street and by A & C Derwent of Crossland Street.  As they enjoyed moderate expansion the company was renamed the ‘Bala Water Co’.


In 1874, William Ward, founder of Ward & Sons, established Mineral Water Works also on Market Street.  The Bala Water company was absorbed circa 1900.  Ward & Sons expanded to provide services to the brewing Industry.  The company started bottling ale from the renowned Bass and Worthington Companies.


In 1935, the firm had the honour of being one the first bottlers of the Bass and Worthington – Bright Beers.  In addition to bottling Wards also wholesaled a wide range of all types of beer and Lagers.  The firm possessed modern up-to-date machinery for bottling, conditioning and filtering,  filling and labelling.  The plant could handle 7,200 bottles per hour.

The area of the works was approximately was some two acres and employed 120 persons.

They operated a large fleet of lorries who covered most areas of Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire.


C.T. Butterfield Ltd


C T Butterfield

Swinton is the home to one of northern England’s oldest family funeral directors.  Still firmly in the hands of the fifth generation of the family the company was founded in 1874 when John Butterfield first came to Swinton to seek his living as a wheelwright.

It is important to note that the undertaking trade was, at this time – outside of the cities – a ‘side-line’ to other trades.  Even in the metropolis of London a survey in 1843 identified 1025 individuals describing themselves as undertakers yet only 275 stated that this was their main or sole business.  The whole affair was totally ad-hoc unlike France for example, which had had regulation of undertaker’s tariffs since 1811 introduced during the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte.

John Butterfield’s business, in the main, was a wheel and wagon works.  This included the manufacture of showmen’s vans and gypsy caravans.  These were beautifully executed with rich carvings and ornamentation.  Before the beginning of World War 1, many trades played a regular, but still casual, role in providing the requirements of funerals.  Joiners and cabinet makers were asked if they could make-up a coffin as a one off job; a local upholsterer would provide the padding.  Those who ran transport and cab businesses would be called on for the odd funeral.  Reputations, however, were steadily built up and those who provided the best services, the finest coffins and the most grandly turned out carriages would find business coming their way on a regular basis.  Being Yorkshire folk, price would also play a part – people wanted a dignified, grand send off, but also at a fair price

John’s first premises were on Charles Street, Swinton and, interestingly, during that period he was called upon to carry out joinery work on some newly built properties on nearby Wood Street, Swinton.  A builder called Wilkinson was constructing these terraced houses.  Little would it be realised that, in future, these properties would become the future base of a much enlarged business to be owned by John Butterfield and five generations of his family.

During these early days, John and Ann had five children and, fortunately, all the children survived.  They were:-

John & Ann Butterfield

George William          Charles Thompson           John          Elijah          Fanny

Each of the sons assisted John in all aspects of the business, building wagons, driving duties, funerals, carting and delivery work.  The 1901 trade index for Swinton notes Butterfield Brothers trading as smiths on Station Street.  George Butterfield is listed as a grocer at 66 Fitzwilliam Street & John Butterfield is described as a wheelwright on Wood Street.  So by this time we have evidence that the business was firmly established on Wood Street site.  It had sufficient space behind the terraced property for the wheel and wagon works and it boasted a blacksmith’s forge and shoeing shed in a converted house.  An adjacent plot of land was rented from the Earl Fitzwilliam’s Estate, which was base in Wentworth some 5 miles away.  This plot was used to graze the company’s horses.

In the years before World Way 1, the business traded as Butterfield Brothers and John took a back seat as he became older.  Each of the sons had become tradesmen in their own right, George was a blacksmith, Charles a joiner and wheelwright, John was also a blacksmith and farrier and Elijah was a painter and sign writer.  Demands of war led to the break-up of the joint enterprise.  George went to work at the Mexborough Locomotive Depot, John to Manvers Main Colliery and Elijah to Denaby Colliery.

Charles Thompson was left to run the business alone, and the business became C. T. Butterfield.  (The First World War was to deprive him of his son Percy.  He was to die of chest wounds on 10th October 1918, while serving in the 7th Battalion of the East Yorkshire Regiment.  He is buried at Rocquigum Road, Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in the Bapaune/Peronne area of northern France, and is commemorated on Swinton’s War Memorial).

Since that time subsequent members of the Butterfield family have continued the name of C. T. Butterfield Ltd and maintained the tradition of excellent service to the local community during sad occasions.  Eventually it evolved that the company specialised in the funeral business due to volume and complexity but offering a wide range of associated services from catering to memorial work.  Recently a beautiful memorial garden was opened to the rear of the Wood Street premises where in times pasted the impressive black company horses would enjoy their grazing after the day’s work was done.

For further information on the history of the company and the changing culture of the northern funeral please see the book ‘A Yorkshire Undertaking’ available from this website.


Town Nursery

This business supplied a lot of the town’s properties.


July 1913

Changing Face of the Woodman

Extract from South Yorkshire Times 25/1/1975


The Woodman Inn

Much chopping and changing has taken place at the “Woodman” public house, Swinton, over the last 70 years or so – and in more ways than one.

Take for example the butcher’s shop that operated from a side door and had a tiny room at the back of the pub for many years after Whitworth’s Brewery built the “Woodmans Inn”, at the turn of the century.  But, when Wath-based Whitworth’s closed down, Barnsley Brewery took the pub over and the butcher’s business faced the axe.

“I’ve been coming here about 25 years, I remember when they changed from Whitworth’s to Barnsley”, said 67  years old Bill Simpson, who worked for 45 years as a collier at Wath.  “We used to call Whitworth’s beer ‘Captain Spedings’.  You couldn’t lick it.  It was a lovely drop of stuff.  I wish it was the same today”, reminisced Bill over a glass of “new-fangled” beer.  When John Smith’s took over from Barnsley the name was changed, dropping the ‘s’ to become “Woodman Inn”, as opposed to “Woodmans”.  The history of the name – like that of the pub – is vague.

Three years ago the pub underwent another major change.  “We changed the name again when the latest decorations were carried out” said manager Gordon Walker.  The ‘Inn’ was missed off and now we are simply called ‘The Woodman’.  I think, legally, you have to be open 24 hours a day for accommodation and refreshment if you are an Inn”.  It is Gordon’s first pub, which he moved from a fish and chip shop at Doncaster, along with his wife Anthea and daughter Nicola aged 6.  The couple now have another daughter, eight-months-old Helen.

“I would like to know more about the history of the pub.  I took over from Bill Weston who kept it for 14 years, before him I think Jack Breedon was tenant, and prior to that a man called Law, I think” added Gordon.  “No one seems to know anything definite, but I would like to hear from anyone who does.  One thing I’m sure of is that I will be stopping here for a long time yet”.  Meanwhile, The Woodman still packs them in.  The inside has been completely restructured, but fixed permanently to the tap room ceiling is an old meat hook, above the fireplace.