Recollections of Rotherham, South Yorkshire

Francis Pinder (2)

Francis Pinder

Francis Pinder is my second great grandfather. He was born in 1846 to parents, Thomas Pinder and Mary Shackleton. In 1867, he married Hannah Berry, daughter of Luke Berry.

Francis and Hannah issued eight children who were called, Amelia (1868 to 1924), Matthew Henry (1869 to 1922), Edith (1872 to 1958), Beatrice (1875 to 1958), Francis Clement W. (1879 to 1881), Winifred (1882 to 1956), Francis Thomas (1884 to 1951) and Margaret (1886 to 1974).

For around thirty years, Francis and his family resided at 45 Carlisle Street, Rotherham. Francis was known as ‘Granda’ by his grandchildren and he would teach them music in 45 Carlisle Street. Hannah had a lovely soprano voice.

Hannah died in 1924:-



45 Carlisle Street

PINDER. – On Feb. 28, Hannah, the beloved wife of Francis Pinder, aged 78. Interment at Rotherham Cemetery today (Saturday). Service in Talbot Lane Chapel at 2.15 p.m.

In his later years, Francis’s recollections of Rotherham during his long lifetime featured as newspaper articles when interviewed by the Sheffield Independent (1920) and the Express (1929). These articles were based on Francis’s own memoirs. Below is a fascinating transcription of Francis’s recollections of Rotherham which featured in the Express along with his obituary.


Bethel  Road, Rotherham (no. 84) - 24.06.07 (1)

84 Bethel Road

On calling at 84 Bethel Road, Rotherham, on Tuesday afternoon, to congratulate Mr. Francis Pinder on his eighty-third anniversary of his birth, a representative of this newspaper had a hearty reception and heard some interesting reminiscences. Mr. Pinder is hale and hearty. His birthday, by the way, is also the anniversary of the disastrous Sheffield flood. He remembers viewing from Chantry Bridge all kinds of wreckage floating down the river, even dead bodies.

Mr. Pinder is a native of Rotherham, and was born at the top of Westgate, in Needham’s Yard. This site is now occupied by the chemist shop of the Rotherham Co-operative Society.

He recollects being sent to Mrs. Dransfields’ school in Westgate, just beyond Water Lane. The school was combined with a living room, and a sweet shop. One of the things that impressed him was a boy standing on a form with a long conical shaped dunce cap on his head.

Rotherham Cooperative Society - 03.06.07 (1)

Cooperative Society

The recreation ground was round the old Butter Markets and in the open Church Yard, which was without rails at that time.

When about six years old, Mr. Pinder was taken by his father to the Old British School, in Rawmarsh Road. The entrance to this school for boys was in Rawmarsh Road whilst that for girls was in Greasbrough Road.

There are very few persons living to-day who received their education at the Old British School, but Mr. Pinder retains a wonderful recollection of events at that time.

On entering the school he was presented to the late Mr. G. Hardy, whose first question to the new scholar was, “Can you spell ‘gnat’”? The master was agreeably surprised when he began the word with ‘g’. A little further along the road stood the house where the Corn Law Rhymer, Ebenezer Elliott, lived. The old school buildings are now in the hands of Messrs. Mappins Brewery.


Francis’s Reminiscences


Of the scholars who attended that famous school rose to important positions in after life. For instance, there was the Moss Brothers; George, the eldest, became a draughtsman at Messrs. Yates and Haywood’s Effingham Works; John was appointed clerk to the Sheffield School Board; Benjamin succeeded to the nail manufacturing business conducted by Mr. Favell, of Westgate; and Charles Herbert became a partner in the firm of Hart Moss and Co., chartered accountants. Others were Joshua Ward, who at one time was principal of the Academy in College Road; James Webb, who was the lead master of a school at Carbrook; William Badger, who had an engineering business at Masboro; John Earnshaw, afterwards Canon Earnshaw, of Bradford; Charles Whitely, who afterwards became a member of the Sheffield City Council; and Samuel Liversidge, who became a partner in the firm of Messrs. J. and R. Corker, stove grate manufacturers. Mr. Pinder does not know how many of these old school ‘chums’ are still living.

Westgate, Rotherham - 30.01.05 (2)


Among the patrons of the school was a Mr. Taylor, who looked in occasionally and addressed the scholars. He resided in a house opposite the school, the side of the present Thatched House. This residence had pleasant gardens which overlooked the silvery Don – a different river from what it is today. Another gentleman, who sometimes paid a visit, was a Mr. Habershon, a member of the family who at that period lived at ‘Northfield House’ in Greasbrough Road. The Moss family and Pinders were neighbours. A little further beyond at Car House, lived another supporter of the school – Mr. James Yates.

Music was a special feature of the school course in the ‘fifties’, and Mr. Pinder recalls a fine paraphrase of the 23rd Psalm by Dr. Watts, which was sung to double chant. Mr. Pinder also recalls the war breaking out between England, Turkey and Russia, known as the Crimean War, which lasted from 1854 to 1856.


Rawmarsh Road

As a boy he went to work for Messrs. Yates, Haywood and Co., stove grate manufacturers. He was employed by the firm for a very large number of years.

He has recollections of Rotherham when it was very different from today. Spaces now occupied by works and houses were then part of a country district with hedgerows dividing green fields. There were the old houses in Pigeon Lane, and the windmill and Moorhouse’s farm. The post office was halfway up High Street, on the left hand side approached by steps. There was a Corn Exchange and a butter marker on the site of the works of Messrs. Guest and Chrimes.

Mr. and Mrs. Pinder were married at Talbot Lane Wesleyan Chapel in June, 1867, by the Rev. Benjamin Smith. The late Mrs. Pinder, it is interesting to note, was the daughter of the late Mr. Luke Berry, who supervised the erection of the engines, still running, at the Frederick Street Pumping Station. Mr. Berry was then appointed waterworks engineer of Rotherham, a position he occupied for many years.


Francis & Hannah


Mr. Pinder has had an interesting musical career. At the age of sixteen he was organist at the Wesleyan Chapel, Whiston. Between the ages of 18 and 20 he was organist at Rawmarsh Congregational Church. A galaxy of youthful talent could be found in a juvenile choir at Rawmarsh, among the members belong Mr. Thomas Brameld, then a boy; Mr. G. Harrison, and Mr. William Walker, Mr. Edwin Ball and his two sisters.

After his marriage, Mr. Pinder went to Doncaster Road Congregational Church, where his father was one of the deacons. He was thirty years in the choir of Doncaster Road Congs. (1867 to 1897) and for twenty of those years was choirmaster and organist.

Doncaster Road Congregational Church, Rotherham - 19.08.07 (1)

Doncaster Road Congregational Church

For four years he was choirmaster at Talbot Lane Wesleyan Church, and then an infirmity compelled him to retire. It was during this period that the old Talbot Lane Wesleyan Church was destroyed by fire, which originated in the organ loft while the instrument was undergoing repairs. Mr. Pinder, at the time of the outbreak, was conducting a rehearsal, practising the children for the anniversary, and they were actually singing one of Mr. Pinder’s own tunes while the church was on fire over their heads. Mr. Pinder is the author of a large number of tunes, including ‘When Spring unlocks the flowers’, ‘Work for all’, ‘To the paradise of Jesus’ and ‘O’ these flowers’. A good deal of his music was sung in Swinton Church and Kimberworth Road Congregational Church. He took an active part in connection with the choral societies of the past “in the sixties, seventies and eighties’. Mendelssohn’s ‘Hear my Prayer’ was given for the first time in Rotherham during his choir mastership of the Doncaster Road Church, and by the same choir Mozart’s 12th Mass was given in the Mechanic’s Hall.

Yates and Haywood, Rotherham - 28.05.09 (8)

Effingham Works

Mr Pinder was a member of the old Rotherham drum, flute and fife band. The practices of this band were held in the ante-room adjoining the large hall of the old Mechanic’s Institute. Mr. Pinder was about the youngest member, and is now the only remaining flautist of this once well-known musical organisation. He joined when ten or twelve years old, and when Mr. Bakewell was bandmaster. After a while Mr. Bakewell relinquished the position, which later on was taken up by Mr. John Jessop, who was a fine musician and flautist. He was a member of a family of musicians. His father had a painting business near to the old ‘Angel Inn’ and his sons assisted him. Other members of the band, in addition to John Jessop and his two brothers, were Mr. William and Mr. Samuel Haywood, who were employed at the Effingham Works; Mr. Alfred Holdsworth and his elder brother William (Alfred had a music shop in Wellgate) and two Jarvises – the late Mr. H. Jarvis and his late brother John, who met with a fatal accident in his early manhood.


Talbot Lane Church

It was Mr. Pinder’s privilege in the practices to play along with Mr. J. Jarvis, and they each played the B flute. There were also men bearing the names of Burns, Grafton and Graham in the band. Mr. J. Jessop and Mr. W. Haywood often entertained the audiences at the popular ‘Penny Readings’ which were held on Saturday evenings at that period.

The old band gave great pleasure to the townspeople when they paraded the street in uniform, which consisted of light trousers with a yellow broad braid at the side and with a special cap. It is Mr. Pinder’s belief that there has not been a band to equal it since those days. They gave the melody and the parts also, for the band consisted of piccolos, B flutes, F flutes, and C flutes, together with side and large drums.


Chapel of our Lady on the Bridge, Rotherham - 28.05.09 (2)

Chapel on the bridge

In view of the working on the Chantry Bridge at present, it would perhaps be appropriate to give a few particulars of Mr. Pinder’s remembrance of the old shrine and the bridge some 70 years ago.

He remembers well the iron railings that stood on the bridge, near to the late buildings of Mr. Thompson, the clothier, which were replaced afterwards by a stone wall. As a youngster he frequently got over the railings and dropped on to the embankment of the river below, making his way through an entrance into a subterranean passage, which led out on the other side of the bridge near the old ‘Bridge Inn’ premises, looking on to the river. This subway, Mr. Pinder believes, was useful in relieving the pressure of water against the bridge when the river was in flood.

100104 - Moorgate Road (Wyvenhoe), Rotherham (3)


He recollects the custom that was in vogue then of exacting a toll once a year from all vehicles that passed over the bridge – a toll which went into the coffers of the Howards of Effingham, who were lords of the manor of Rotherham. At that period the old chantry was used as a jail, and Mr. Pinder has seen prisoners gazing through small barred windows of the cell, looking for some commiseration from the passer-by.

It was a common occurrence to see the devotees of Izaak Walton standing on the bridge with rod and line fishing into the waters of “the silvery Don” below. The waters at that time were so clear that one could see the fish as one looked over the bridge wall. On the right-hand side of the chapel there was a notice board, announcing that any person found fishing in the waters without permission would be prosecuted to the “utmost rigour of the law,” as the legal phrasing had it. A further sacrilege was perpetrated when the jail was converted into a tobacconist’s shop.

Moorgate Cemetery, Rotherham - 13.07.09 (4)

Moorgate Cemetery

It is now a gratification to know that the misuses of the old chapel have some to an end, and that it has at last been restored to its former grandeur. It is no doubt a fine asset to the town, because of its unique character.



The death occurred on Tuesday morning, at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Charles of Mr. Francis Pinder.

Mr. Pinder, who was for 66 years a respected employee of Messrs Yates, Haywood and Co., retiring about 13 years ago, was 89 years of age. Until a few years ago he was well known in local musical circles, having been choirmaster at Rotherham Congregational and Talbot Lane Methodist Churches. He was also a reputed organist and music master.

(Grave No. 71) Moorgate Cemetery, Rotherham - 24.06.09 (8)

Francis’s headstone

Mr. Pinder had been an invalid for about six years,

The interment took place in Moorgate Cemetery on Thursday morning, the Rev. Victor Watson conducting the service.

This post was originally published on Mollekin Portalite on 04/05/2011 and revised on Week 42.