Swinton Voices Book

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Robert Craig

Swinton’s streets have been walked by an incalculable number of people, most of whom are no longer living but each with many and often whole lifetimes of experiences of Swinton. The aim of this book is to record the memories of Swinton in yesteryear by people still alive today, for the benefit of current and future generations of Swintonians.

I established the ‘Swinton Record’ project in 2008. The goal was to record all names on headstones standing in Saint Margaret’s Churchyard. Within a year, I was looking into the lives behind the names. Before long, I realised that I was researching all of Swinton’s past population. Each person in the Churchyard had a personal story to tell but often lost forever when they died.

The inspiration behind this book was, ‘Memories – Recollections of Rawmarsh people’ that was produced by the Rawmarsh Manor Farm History Group, in 2004, which I read in 2008. I announced the ‘Swinton Voices’ project in January of this year. Rather than publishing a hard copy of ‘Swinton Voices’ and incurring printing costs etc. which might not be recouped, I decided to produce a publication that would be easily accessible to people, regardless of location, free of charge.

I wholeheartedly thank each and every author for submitting an account for the inclusion of this edition; without them, it simply wouldn’t have been possible. I hope that their stories are well read, around the globe, for years to come.

It is desired that this first edition will prove to be an inspiration and catalyst for additional submissions. Accounts of memories as recent as last year would be welcome; what might be deemed as being contemporary now will be considered as being old in years to come. So if you’ve enjoyed reading this book, please submit your own account for inclusion in future editions.

The book is currently only available in PDF format. EPUB and Kindle versions may be available in the future when I have mastered how to render the book correctly in each format.

Download the ‘Swinton Voices’ 2017 edition by clicking here.

Robert Craig, Swinton, Tuesday 12th December 2017

Swinton Chemical Works Explosion

Former Croda, Kilnhurst

Former Croda Site




Early on Saturday morning the unusual sound of the fire bell was heard at Mexbro’. It transpired that an explosion had occurred at the chemical works at Swinton, and that a great destruction of property had been the result. This was the third disaster at the works within a comparatively brief period. About a year ago a workman lost his life by the poisonous fumes emanating from one of the large vats in which he was working, and a mate was only “brought round” with great difficulty. Prior to this a quantity of the inflammable liquid became ignited, and considerable loss was sustained by the owners, Messrs. Ellison and Mitchell, who also carry on similar works at Cleckheaton. It appears that about ten minutes to eight on Saturday morning an employee named James Lawrence, of Doncaster, was on duty at the works. He had been firing up a still which was preparing about 3000 gallons of benzoline. One of the proprietors would have been engaged near the same spot in all probability had he not met with a slight accident to one of his feet the previous day. He had interrogated Lawrence just before the accident as to whether all was right, and received a reply in the affirmative. Suddenly, however, there was a terrific report with a simultaneous flash of fire, which appeared to envelope the whole premises. Before it was known what had happened, residents at Swinton and Kilnhurst had feared an explosion had occurred at the Thrybergh Hall Colliery, and the wildest rumours were afloat. The workman, Lawrence, considers himself fortunate that he was not killed on the spot. When the explosion occurred he was far from the still, and the concussion “carried” him several yards away. The flames caught him, and the partial disfigurement of his face is proof of the great danger he was in. It is remarkable that he was not more seriously injured. He was promptly removed to the hospital at Mexbro’, after previous treatment by Dr. M’Call, of Kilnhurst, and it is hoped he may soon recover the burns appearing to be only facial and superficial. He has sustained no internal injury, beyond the shock to the nervous system. Another workman named Joseph Lee was on the ground, but he escaped unscathed. As an illustration of the force of the explosion, the top of the still, constructed of half-inch boiler plates and said to weight seven or eight tons, was carried through the air some 50 or 60 yards, finally alighting in a large tank of water. In its flight it just missed a tall chimney, which thus escaped demolition. The masonry of the benzoline shed – containing ten large boilers, capable of containing 3000 of liquid each – collapsed with a great crash, while the flames were darting heavenwards. The mechanism which ensured the security of the boilers also gave way, and the flames then devoured the benzoline inside. The boilers were fortunately by no means full, but there was ample liquid to cause a startling conflagration, which lasted a long time, until the benzoline had all been devoured. There was no wind at the time, otherwise the consequences would have been much more disastrous. The width of the building was about 11 yards, and the length about 40 yards. When the members of the fire brigade arrived from Mexbro’, their endeavour was to save that portion of the works which had thus far escaped. Between 30 and 40 benzoline barrels were on the ground, and these were removed to a safe distance from the fire. Water was poured upon the contiguous property in as large volumes as possible, though at the first the jet appeared much inadequate for the purpose. The labours of the brigade were not only arduous, but dangerous, while they stood in the vicinity of the blazing building, which every now and again gave ominous cracks, as though the whole would collapse. But no one was hurt. Captain Humphries (who is surveyor to the Mexbro’ Local Board) had charge of the brigade. Amongst others who zealously assisted were Mr. H. A. Fenner, the company’s analyst, Mr. W. H. Mitchell, and Mr. J. C. Haller, surveyor to the Swinton Local Board. Large crowds assembled from Mexbro’, Swinton and Kilnhurst, having been attracted by the fire bell and the flames. The extent of the damage is at present a matter of speculation, though it is calculated to amount to £2000 or £3000. The loss will be only very partially met by insurance. The cause of the explosion is not definitely known, but it is surmised that the “worm” at the top of the still had become clogged, thus preventing the escape of steam from the benzoline, under which was the furnace.

Talbot Road Footbridge, Swinton

Talbot Road, Swinton - 29.07.08 (2)

Talbot Road Bridge, Swinton


A £40,000 railway footbridge, that cuts out a one and a half mile detour for workers on the Morphy Richards industrial estate at Swinton, was opened.

The bridge, which spans the main Doncaster to Sheffield line, will make life easier for workers living on the Swinton side.

Swinton Billiard Licence

Station Street, Swinton - 12.10.14 (3)

Station Street, Swinton



Mr. W. J. Bradford applied on behalf of Mr. Edwin Morgan for a billiard license for premises to be erected in Station street, Swinton.

Mr. Bradford said that the applicant had bought the land, and proposed to erect a thoroughly up-to-date billiard hall. There was provision in the plans for 16 tables, but at first it was proposed to have only 12.

The application was granted subject to the plans being passed by the Urban Council.

The hall would be allowed to be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and no one under 18 years of age admitted.