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For other uses, see Rotherham (disambiguation).
Rotherham montage.jpg
From top to bottom: Rotherham town centre, Rotherham Minster, Beeversleigh flats in Clifton, All Saints Square.
Rotherham is located in South Yorkshire
 Rotherham shown within South Yorkshire
Population 248,176 (2001 Census)
OS grid reference SK4392
Metropolitan borough Rotherham
Metropolitan county South Yorkshire
Region Yorkshire and the Humber
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district S60–S63, S65–S66
Dialling code 01709
Police South Yorkshire
Fire South Yorkshire
Ambulance Yorkshire
EU Parliament Yorkshire and the Humber
List of places

Coordinates: 53°25′48″N 1°21′26″W / 53.4301°N 1.3572°W / 53.4301; -1.3572

Rotherham Listeni/ˈrɒð(ə)rəm/[1] is a large town in South Yorkshire, England, which together with its surrounding settlements form the Metropolitan Borough of Rotherham, with an estimated population of 257,800 in 2011. Historically within the West Riding of Yorkshire, it lies on the River Don, at its confluence with the River Rother, between Sheffield and Doncaster. Rotherham is 6 miles (10 km) from Sheffield City Centre and forms part of the Sheffield urban area.


Early history[edit]

Rotherham in the late Medieval period

Although there were Iron Age and Roman settlements in the area covered by the town, Rotherham was not founded until the early Middle Ages. Its name is from Old English hām 'homestead, estate', meaning 'homestead on the river Rother'. (The river-name itself was borrowed into Old English from Brittonic: probably *ro- 'over, chief' and *duβr 'water', thus 'main river'.)[2] It established itself as a key Saxon market town, lying on a Roman road near a forded part of the River Don.[3]

By the late Saxon period, Rotherham was at the centre of a large parish on both sides of the River Don. Following the Norman Conquest, an absentee lord, Nigel Fossard, was put in place. His successors the De Vescis rarely visited the town and did not build a castle or contribute to the town's civic life, but maintained a Friday market and a fair. In the mid 13th century, John de Vesci and Ralph de Tili gave all their possessions in Rotherham to Rufford Abbey. The monks collected tithes from the town and gained rights to an additional market day on Monday and to extend the annual fair from two to three days.[4]

The townsmen of Rotherham formed the "Greaves of Our Lady's Light", an organisation which worked with the town's three guilds. It was suppressed in 1547 but revived in 1584 as the Feoffees of the Common Lands of Rotherham, and remains in existence.[4]

In the 1480s the Rotherham-born Archbishop of York, Thomas Rotherham, instigated the building of The College of Jesus to rival the colleges of Cambridge and Oxford. It was the first brick building in what is now South Yorkshire and taught theology, singing, grammar and writing.[4]

The College and new parish church of All Saints made Rotherham an enviable and modern town at the turn of the 16th century. The college was dissolved in 1547 in the reign of Edward VI, its assets stripped for the crown. Very little remains of the original building, although the street is still known as College Street. Walls of part of the College of Jesus are encased within No 23 College Street and Nos 2,2A, 4, 6 and 8 Effingham Street (formerly listed as Effingham Street, No 4 (The Old College Inn) and No 6). Although a fragmentary survival, the walls of the College of Jesus are the earliest surviving brick structure in South Yorkshire and formed part of a fundamental element in the development of Rotherham. By the end of the 16th century, Rotherham had fallen from a fashionable college town to a notorious haven of gambling and vice. The history of Thomas Rotherham and education in the town are remembered in the name of Thomas Rotherham College.[5]

Memorial brass of the Swift family, All Saints Church, Rotherham, later owners of Broom Hall

Industrial Revolution[edit]

The region had been exploited for iron since Roman times, but it was coal that first brought the Industrial Revolution to Rotherham. Exploitation of the coal seams was the driving force behind the improvements to navigation on the River Don, which eventually formed the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation system of navigable inland waterways.

Rotherham iron was very highly regarded for its strength. Iron, and later steel, became the principal industry in Rotherham, surviving into the 20th century. The Walker family built an iron and steel empire in the 18th century, their foundries producing high quality cannon, including some for the ship of the line HMS Victory, and cast iron bridges, one of which was commissioned by Thomas Paine.[6]

Rotherham's cast iron industry expanded rapidly in the early 19th century, the Effingham Ironworks, later Yates, Haywood & Co, opened in 1820. Other major iron founders included William Corbitt and Co; George Wright and Co of Burton Weir; Owen and Co of Wheathill Foundry; Morgan Macauley and Waide of the Baths Foundry; the Masbro’ Stove Grate Co belonging to Messrs. Perrot, W. H. Micklethwait and John and Richard Corker of the Ferham Works.

The Parkgate Ironworks was established in 1823 by Sanderson and Watson, and changed ownership several times. In 1854, Samuel Beal & Co produced wrought iron plates for Isambard Kingdom Brunel's famous steamship the SS Great Eastern.[7] In 1864, the ironworks was taken over by the Parkgate Iron Co. Ltd, becoming the Park Gate Iron and Steel Company in 1888. The company was purchased by Tube Investments Ltd in 1956 and closed in 1974. Steel, Peech and Tozer's massive Templeborough steelworks (now the Magna Science Adventure Centre) was, at its peak, over a mile (1.6 km) long, employing 10,000 workers, and housing six electric arc furnaces producing 1.8 million tonnes of steel a year. The operation closed down in 1993.

Joseph Foljambe established a factory to produce his Rotherham plough, the first commercially successful iron plough.[8]

A glass works was set up in Rotherham in 1751, and became Beatson Clark & Co, one of the town's largest manufacturers, exporting glass medicine bottles worldwide. Beatson Clark & Co was a family business until 1961, when it became a public company. The glass works operated on the same site, although the family connection ceased and the company is owned by Newship Ltd, a holding company linked to the industrialist John Watson Newman. It continues to the manufacture glass containers for the pharmaceutical, food and drinks industries.[9] In the 19th century, other successful industries included pottery, brass making and the manufacture of cast iron fireplaces. Precision manufacturing companies in the town include AESSEAL, Newburgh Engineering, Precision Magnetics, Orkot Composites and Darron Oil Tools SBO. Rotherham is the location of the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP).

Milling grain into flour was a traditional industry in Rotherham, formerly in the Millmoor area, hence Rotherham United F.C.'s nickname "The Millers". Flour milling continued at the Rank Hovis town mill site on Canklow Road[10] until September 2008.[11] The site of the mill is a warehousing and distribution facility for Premier Foods.

Floods of 2007[edit]

Rotherham was affected by the floods in the summer of 2007, which brought disruption to the town, closed roads, schools, the local transport system and damaged personal and commercial property. The Parkgate Shopping centre was flooded, with shops suffering damage and losing stock. Ulley Reservoir caused major concern when its dam showed signs of structural damage, threatening to break and release the water into Canklow, Catcliffe, Treeton, Whiston areas and an electrical sub-station serving Sheffield.[12] Rother FM evacuated its studios in the danger area, causing its sister station, Trax FM, to broadcast on the Rother FM frequency. Fire service and police officers used thirteen high-powered pumps to lower the water level in the reservoir and reduce pressure on the dam wall, which was damaged but held. By summer 2008, the reservoir and surrounding country park reopened.

A new wetland and flood storage area, Centenary Washlands, has since been built by Rotherham Council and the Environment Agency to prevent flooding in the future. Sheffield Wildlife Trust manages the site as a local nature reserve.

Child sexual exploitation[edit]

In August 2014, Rotherham was the centre of a major ongoing scandal concerning mass child sexual abuse of, at a "conservative estimate", 1,400 children.[13][14] The associated inquiry stated that the known perpetrators are predominantly of Pakistani heritage.[15]

Rotherham College of Arts and technology

Further education[edit]

Rotherham has three further education institutions and colleges. These are Thomas Rotherham College, Dearne Valley College and the Rotherham College of Arts and Technology. The Rotherham College of Arts and Technology has a campus in the Rotherham town centre and a second site in Dinnington.


Rotherham Town Hall (originally the West Riding Courthouse; in civic use since 1985).

Like most of South Yorkshire, Rotherham is a Labour Party stronghold. Its seat in the House of Commons has been held by Labour MPs continuously since a by-election in 1933. After the resignation of Denis MacShane in November 2012 due to expenses, who was the Member of Parliament for Rotherham since a by-election in 1994, the seat was left open for a by-election to take place on 29 November 2012. Sarah Champion for Labour became the MP at that by-election.[16] Rotherham have now 10 UKIP Councillors gaining 9 seats in the election of 2014 & one in a previous by-election.


Rotherham is connected to the rest of the country by the M1 and the M18 motorways.


The town is situated partly on the downward slopes of two hills and partly in a valley, on the navigable part of the River Don where it meets the River Rother.

Beyond the town centre and away from the Don Valley, the Rotherham district is largely rural, containing a mixture of farming and mining communities as well as the large Wentworth Woodhouse estate, where the last surviving kiln of the Rockingham Pottery can be seen.


Census population data for the borough of Rotherham 1801–1891
Year 1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891
Source: Vision of Britain – Rotherham District: Total Population.[17]
Census population data for the borough of Rotherham 1901–2001
Year 1901 1911 1921 1931 1941 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001
Source: Vision of Britain – Rotherham District: Total Population.[17]


Rotherham Minster

Rotherham Minster in All Saints Square dates from the 15th century and includes parts from earlier Saxon and Norman structures. It was described by Pevsner as "the best perpendicular church in the country", and by Simon Jenkins as "the best work in the county".

Close to the town centre is the 15th-century Chapel of Our Lady of Rotherham Bridge (or "Chapel on the Bridge"), beside Chantry Bridge (a road bridge opened in the 1930s). It is one of four surviving bridge chapels in the country. The chapel was restored in 1923, having been used as the town jail and a tobacconist's shop.

Boston Castle

Built in the 18th century, Clifton House houses Clifton Park Museum. The remains of the 16th-century College of Jesus are in the town centre. Boston Castle, in the grounds of Boston Park, was built as a hunting lodge by Thomas, 3rd Earl of Effingham between 1773 and 1774 to mark his opposition to British attempts to crush the Americans in their war for independence. It is named after Boston, Massachusetts, the scene of the Boston Tea Party.[18]

On the outskirts of Rotherham, a brick built glass making furnace, the Catcliffe Glass Cone, is the oldest surviving structure of its type in Western Europe and one of four remaining in the United Kingdom – the other surviving cones can be found in Wordsley in the West Midlands, Lemington Glass Works and Alloa in Scotland. Threatened with demolition in the 1960s, it has been preserved as a Scheduled Ancient Monument and stands as a focal point in a sheltered housing complex. At Maltby near Rotherham, the medieval ruins of the Cistercian Roche Abbey are a popular tourist destination.

Culture and attractions[edit]


Furnace at the Magna Centre, Rotherham

The Magna Science Adventure Centre, an interactive science and adventure centre built in a former steel works in Templeborough, has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region.[19]

Clifton Park Museum medium-sized municipal museum situated in Clifton Park. Admission is free.


The Civic Theatre and an Arts Centre is in the town centre.

The Westgate district of the town centre is home to many pubs, bars and clubs and is the focal point of Rotherham's nightlife. .


Rotherham holds several public event through the year:- A fashion show Rotherham Rocks in July, takes place in 'All Saints Square' and Rotherham by the Sea, in August, is held in the same location, where it is transformed into a seaside beach with sand, deckchairs and other traditional seaside attractions. Rotherham Show is an annual event, held in Clifton Park, with stalls from all sectors of the community, shows and live bands.


Clifton Park

Clifton Park, in the town centre, includes sport facilities, an outdoor paddling pool, a small fairground and an adventure park.

Minster Gardens is an urban park in the heart of the town centre, next to Rotherham Minster and All Saints Square. It has an amphitheatre and space for open air events, with stepped seating, lawns, grass terracing and a meadow area.

In popular culture[edit]

Jamie Oliver's television series Jamie's Ministry of Food, broadcast on Channel 4 in 2008 was based in Rotherham. He aimed to make Rotherham "the culinary capital of the United Kingdom" by his 'Pass it on' scheme. He tried to teach people to cook fresh food and establish healthy eating as part of daily life.[20] The town is mentioned in the Arctic Monkeys' song "Fake Tales of San Francisco" in the lyric, "Yeah I'd love to tell you all my problem. You're not from New York City, you're from Rotherham".

Rotherham has produced many classic and progressive rock bands, supported by the Classic Rock Society, such as Deadline, Saxon, Jive Bunny, Bring Me the Horizon, and Disarm.


Rotherham United Football Club plays in The Championship. The team currently plays at the New York Stadium. Historically the town was represented by Rotherham Town, and Rotherham County, who both played in the Football League.

Rotherham Titans rugby union team reached the Guinness Premiership in 1999 and 2003 before being relegated. The club plays at the Clifton Lane Sports Ground. The town is also represented in rugby league by the Rotherham Giants of the Rugby League Conference.

Former Formula One team Virgin Racing were based in Dinnington in the borough. IndyCar and former ChampCar and Formula One driver Justin Wilson is from Woodall, which is in the Metropolitan Borough of Rotherham.[21] Motorcycle speedway racing was staged in the town about 1930.

Hurdler Chris Rawlinson, Olympic gold medallist sailor Paul Goodison, Olympic silver medallist Peter Elliott, former England goalkeeper David Seaman and 2010 World Cup final referee Howard Webb are all from Rotherham.

Freedom of the borough[edit]

On Monday 3 August 2009 Rotherham became the first town to bestow the Freedom of the Borough on the Yorkshire Regiment, giving it the right to march through the town with "flags flying, bands playing and bayonets fixed". At a ceremony outside the Town Hall, the Regiment paraded two Guards of soldiers who had recently returned from Iraq and the Colours of the 3rd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment (Duke of Wellington's), led by the Kings Division Band, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Vallings, the battalion commanding officer. The Mayor of Rotherham, Councillor Shaukat Ali, on behalf of the borough, presented the Freedom Scroll to Colonel Simon Newton, who accepted the honour for the regiment. The regiment is the only military unit to become Honorary Freemen of the Borough.

Notable people[edit]

Rotherham is the home of Paul and Barry Elliott (generally known as the Chuckle Brothers).

Rotherham is the hometown of the Chuckle Brothers, Arsenal and England goalkeeper David Seaman, along with World Cup and English Premier League referee Howard Webb. Actors Liz White, Ryan Sampson and Darrell D'Silva also hail from Rotherham, as does current Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, William Hague and Sir Donald Coleman Bailey. Presenter James May grew up in Rotherham and went to Oakwood comprehensive school. His co-presenter on Top Gear Jeremy Clarkson trained to be a journalist at the Rotherham Advertiser.

Comedian Sandy Powell was born in Rotherham. The town has produced several other entertainers who started on the Working men's club circuit, such as Duggie Brown and Paul Shane who went on to star as Ted Bovis in Hi-de-Hi!. Christopher Wolstenholme of Muse and Dean Andrews, of Life On Mars, and artist Margaret Clarkson were all born in Rotherham.[22] Rob McVeigh, a contestant on Any Dream Will Do hails from Rotherham.

Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers, who had three number one pop hits, were from Rotherham.

Twin towns[edit]

Rotherham's official twin towns are:

Partner towns[edit]

Rotherham has three partner towns:[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wells, John C. (2008), Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.), Longman, p. 697, ISBN 9781405881180 
  2. ^ Watts, Victor (ed.), The Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names Based on the Collections of the English Place-Name Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), s.vv. ROTHERHAM and River ROTHER SYorks.
  3. ^ RotherhamUnOfficial[dead link]
  4. ^ a b c David Hey, Medieval South Yorkshire
  5. ^ "Thomas Rotherham College". Thomas Rotherham College. Retrieved 9 October 2008. 
  6. ^[dead link]
  7. ^ Glover, Bill. "History of the Atlantic Cable & Submarine Telegraphy – Great Eastern". Retrieved 9 October 2008. 
  8. ^ "The Invention of the Rotherham Plough by Stanyforth and Foljambe". Retrieved 9 October 2008. 
  9. ^ "Beatson Clark today". 30 August 2012. 
  10. ^ [1][dead link]
  11. ^ "Rank Hovis consults on mill closure – British Baker". 11 July 2008. 
  12. ^ "Thousands evacuated as dam threatens to burst its banks". This is London. Retrieved 26 June 2007. 
  13. ^ Failures in Rotherham led to sexual abuse of 1,400 children – Guardian
  14. ^ Rotherham child abuse scandal: 1,400 children exploited, report finds – BBC
  15. ^ Para.11.2 of the inquiry report: "In Rotherham, the majority of known perpetrators were of Pakistani heritage including the five men convicted in 2010. The file reading carried out by the Inquiry also confirmed that the ethnic origin of many perpetrators was 'Asian'.
  16. ^ "Labour holds Rotherham seat in by-election". BBC News (BBC). 30 November 2012. Retrieved 30 November 2012. 
  17. ^ a b Rotherham District: Total Population. Vision of Britain. Retrieved on 2 February 2009.
  18. ^ John Goodchild, ‘Matters of Concern: the Life Story of the Third Earl of Effingham’, Aspects of Rotherham: Discovering Local History, ed. Melvyn Jones (Barnsley: Wharncliffe Publishing Limited, 1995).
  19. ^ "BBC – South Yorkshire – Entertainment – Magna Science Adventure Centre". Retrieved 10 October 2008. 
  20. ^ Renton, Alex (1 October 2008). "Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food goes to Rotherham – Life and style". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 10 October 2008. 
  21. ^ "Questions and Answers". Justin Wilson. Retrieved 10 October 2008. 
  22. ^ Information on Margaret Clarkson
  23. ^ "town twinning". 26 March 1990. 
  24. ^ "Rotherhams Partner Towns". Rotherham.Gov.UK. 

External links[edit]