for more details. Looking then up-stream from alongside the Rotherham Central side of the canal the re-development works is clear to see, with on-going flood defence reinforcement in evidence. The first two of the three shots show the scene on February 17th and the last one, in full sun and looking north, on the 2nd March showing an old section along the wall having been replaced. The last in this sequence of shots shows the down-stream end of the Rotherham Lock with the court house on the right and one of the new-build, 2008, blocks of flats right on the River bank, on the left; the extent of the Forge Island re-development is clear from all these shots and is a major town-centre undertaking.
14-20. The view now looks across Rotherham Lock, with much of the old stone infra-structure at the canal-side now demolished during the re-development process and some of this material has, accidentally maybe, been thrown over onto the space which forms the subject of the matter for this section. I am assuming that once the development is complete, the old stone-work will be restored over the lock chamber as it did all look very good.. The extent of the steel reinforcing structure being pile-driven into the canal side is obvious and it will presumably guarantee protection for the new-build development of shops, housing and a cinema being readied for the Forge Island site; see next section of the video for the advertising hoardings showing what is being planned. The spire of all Saints Church in the Rotherham Town centre stands prominent in the background. The Swing Bridge base is off to the left in the first shot and the subsequent 4 show the state of this on 17th February, then 3 shots from the 2nd March, last week. As will be seen, the area of the base has had red-bricks scattered all over it and there’s other detritus about which has been cast into the Swing Bridge ‘pit’, the semi-circular nature of the space is evident in these shots. The 3 shots from last week, when on a second visit to inspect the scene again for this video, shows more detail, in the first of the three, the support brackets for the end of the bridge can be seen embedded in the wall at right, with a circular shaped recess to take the end of the bridge carrying the single line. Rotherham Central Station can be seen in the background and the extent of the Swing Bridge base and the mess placed there is clear to see. The second of the 3 shows the view over the Lock chamber and a close-up of the well made, of course, its the GCR!, bridge base and its matching support on the other side. The set of flat stones carrying the single line are still in place but there is no sign of the rails, I could see, all this having been taken up in the early 1970s when the whole site underwent the 1st of its re-0development phases and eventually a Tescos Supermarket ended up here, though this too has now completely gone to make way for this latest re-development phase. The last of the MArch 2nd shots shows the view up-stream along the Lock chamber, with the curved metal brackets which supported the bridge and the curved recess taking what must have been the curved end of the matching Swing Bridge; I’m not sure for what purpose the 4 rectangular apertures would have been… The next in this sequence shows a 1900s map, overlaid on a Google Earth view and shows how the area looked in the early 1900s with the Swing Bridge structure clearly shown. It carried the GCR’s Good’s Line over from the GCR’s main line from a junction just south of the station footbridge, the line passing over the canal and onto Forge Island and into what used to be the large, ‘Rotherham Forge & Rolling Mill’ site. As will be noticed, the Station site used to be about 200m to the south of where it is now, but was moved to its present location in 1987 and make it a far more ‘Central’ Station; the old station closed in 1966. The last shot after the map (there’s a little longer to view the map in the video than that for the other shots) shows the view directly towards the end of the Rotherham Lock and on the right, what may surprise some, the old exit of the bed of the canal which came from Ickles Lock further south and passed along what is now the Railway trackbed from there and through their station site. In other words, Rotherham Central Station trackbed is built on the old formation of the canal. The Canal course was changed by the GCR to allow it to build its Rotherham Central Station and the line, the latter then being able to pass under the North Midland line at Ickles, something it was impossible to get around due to the similar height of the two lines in that area. A large piece of work was posted on Flickr in 2016, and explains all this in much more detail, see-
This aspect of a historical railway artifact appeared, to me at least, to be not being given the appropriate care and attention and was something I thought ought to be brought to the attention of the local authority. I therefore put together an email describing the facts given here with a shot of the are and the map and sent it off to the representative responsible for the development of the site. Fortunately this was met with some interest and enthusiasm and I am hoping that what was said is upheld and the GCR’s old Swing Bridge base can form part of the historical content and context of the new site…
21-31. The next sequence of 11 shots, ‘mauve-boarded’ are the Advertising Hoardings along the canal side showing what the plans are for the extensive piece of ground which has now emerged from the removal of Tescos, to another site on the north side of the town, a reduction in the large car-parking area and other clearances which has plainly left a large plot which to make the best of and, I hope they do. More information about all this can be found here-
and this is indeed where I obtained the email contact address, though the ‘.’ is missing between the two parts of his name in the mailto: link, to send my email to, mentioned above… The Hoardings carry all the information one needs to know in a very agreeable way..
32-45. From there, it was a walk around to see what’s happening at the north side of the MAin Street River bridge where the large Don Street business premises of ‘Guest & Chrimes’, stood, but not for much longer. The 14 shots in this section look first along the main road into the town at Main Street’s junction with Westgate. Just over the bridge, on the right, where the Postal Sorting office now stands, stood, the ‘Rabbit Hutch’ as the locals affectionately? called Rotherham’s most central station at the time, this was Rotherham Westgate Station and occupied the whole of the right-hand side, beyond the river bridge. The Sheffield & Rotherham Railway ran trains along their branch line from the Midland’s Wicker Station to here for 114 years and must have been a very convenient means for working folk to travel between there and Sheffield. My mother used the line regularly in the mid-1940s and paid sixpence, 2.5p, for the single journey into Sheffield where she worked at Firth-Vickers, as a Comptometer Operator, see-
Some information about this important station development in the 1830s-
‘…From Wicker Station in Sheffield the line proceeded to the first stopping place at Grimesthorpe Bridge. It then followed the River Don to the next stop at Holmes then a short lived station called Blackburn Forge (closed 1839), then passing close to Masbrough where the North Midland Railway would later cross it. The line then crossed the River Don arriving at Westgate Station in Rotherham. The whole line was just over 5 miles more or less straight, with gentle gradients apart from a one in 68 section just before Rotherham. There were 13 bridges, six level crossings and five footpath crossings…’
The bridge over the river, carrying the Westgate Branch, was just over to the right along Don Street and the parlous nature of the wooden structure, was the reason given for closing the line and the whole lot finally closed on 4th October, 1952. The next shot shows the view along the side of the old Rotherham Central site with the old station site at upper left where the lines of cars are parked, including 2 police vehicles; the new station site is out of the short at the right. The large red-brick building poking into the picture at the right is the South Yorkshire Police Headquarters and some in there may well have had a rough shift recently, judging by the burnt out police car at lower centre! Next up, the GCR’s line past the R.U.F.C. at their ‘New York Stadium’ site and a bit too prominent for my liking. The scene shows the place where the Westgate Branch line used to cross the area from left to right and the bridge abutment, still extant but hardly visible, can be seen in the following shot, as indicated. Its course, miraculously is still visible as the path of its formation has not been built on, it runs right alongside the new Council offices and comes out close to what is still recognisable as the ‘Holmes Tail Goit’, the flow back into the river of water taken up-stream, by the Mills which once existed here. The scene in this area of the GCR’s rail formation is now cluttered with the infra-structure of the Sheffield Tram/Train system, the very substantial uprights and OHL equipment now dominating the scene from Tinsley Meadowhall, through here and on to Parkgate Retail. A real surprise was to find, at long last I guess, that the impressive, though contaminated with asbestos, ‘Guest & Chrimes’ building is now being demolished and the next view shows the still extant ‘Guest & Chrimes’ tower at the end of their building near the R.U.F.C. ground with the Rotherham Council offices on the far left. There then follows 7 shots taken on 17th February along Don Street showing the progress with the demolition. These shots are followed by 2 from 12 years ago, taken on 7th September, 2008 when the Grade II listed building was being offered Fore Sale by ‘G.V.A. Grimley’ and I bet that was a hard thing to sale in the year of the great financial down-turn; it never did sell. The second of the shots shows the distinctive front with white stone features which in around 1959/1960, I could see from my grandparent’s house which was situated on an elevated position on Moorgate over-looking the Rother Valley, in Rotherham. At night, when visiting them, I used to watch steam hauled passenger services slowly making their way up from Tinsley & Templeborough to vanish behind this lit building, on the still extant line of course, and on into the old Rotherham Central Station; the white stonework making the building easy to pick out in the dark…
46-52. On the way back now and something attracted me to this 1st of the last 7 shots of this video. The River flooding along Don St. has brought much material up from the River but what struck me was that vegetation growth, unchecked for a number of years has now covered half the left-hand bench in this shot. The proximity of the River Don, now with flood waters from both its course and the River Rother, the confluence being a few hundred metres away off to the right at Bow Bridge, behind the camera, makes it clear why it floods so easily here. The River bank on the other, town side, has already been reinforced with flood defences which extend on this side through the town to the right and all the way back left to Tinsley. The last 6 shots show the scene from the elevated position at the eastern side of Forge Island and overlooking the extensive site. The first is a shot showing the work of female artist, Jo Peel, see-
and she also has other material on view in Sheffield, at the Love Square projects, see-
from there, the views are down-stream past the old Tescos footbridge which, I would assume, may well be replaced for a more up-market version during the sire re-development; it was latterly a very grotty, and I’m being kind, footbridge to walk over! The gushing flowing and brown waters of the River Don cascade over Rotherham Weir with the crane looking to have been used to place steel reinforcing barriers along a short section of the river to prevent erosion of the slipway; there’s an awful lot of water cascading over that weir. These shots were taken atop the old Rotherham Abattoir seen in the earlier pictures from the other side and the last shot, accompanied by ‘Dreamstate Logic – Etheric Echoes (downtempo ambient electronic)’, looks across the road bridge which takes traffic onto Forge Island behind the camera and then left to the town centre ahead or right to Main Street; its all going to look a lot smarter than it did and with the retention of historic artifacts and heritage, this should be a nice place to be, close to the new bus interchange and the Tram/Train system at Rotherham Central Station; ‘bring em back into town from the awful shopping malls’!
NOTE: Whilst writing this, I have just heard back from two of the representatives involved with the Forge Island Re-development and, its good news. The materials washed into the Swing Bridge area by the recent flooding will be cleared out and all this space taken care of with a view to retaining it as part of the heritage and historical features of the location’s industrial past. So, many thanks to them for taking time-out to reply and having such a considered view about the area’s past history…
Tagged: , Rotherham Central , Ickles , Forge Island , M.S.L.R. , Manchester Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway , Holmes Chord , Sheffield P.S.B. , Signal S0746 , Signal S0747 , Signal S0748 , S&S.Y.N. , Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation , River Don , G.C.R. , Great Central Railway , R.U.F.C. , Rotherham United Football Club , New York Stadium , OHL Equipment , C.F. Booth Metal Recyclers Ltd. , Sheffield & Rotherham Railway , Westgate Branch , Rotherham Westgate Station , Holmes Tail Goit , Guest & Chrimes Ltd. , Alma Works , Holmes Rolling Mill , London Works , Brinsworth Iron & Wheel Works , Oxygen Works , Rotherham Bowling Alley , Rotherham Lock , Don Street , Rotherham Abattoir , Club Envy , Tealby’s Takeaway , Just Great Food , Rotherham Forge & Rolling Mill , Firth-Vickers Ltd. , Comptometer Operator , Grimesthorpe Bridge , Holmes Station , Blackburn Forge , Jo Peel Artist