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

Gate Inn, Swinton

Gate Inn, Swinton - 27.05.13 (3)

Gate Inn, Swinton

This 19th century public house probably got its name from the nearby Toll Bar.

Landlords have included:-

George & Mary Jowett
Ray & Margaret Newey
Pete & Levain Mullet
Tony & Helen Scanlon – ? to Early 1998
Alan & Gill Wilson – 1990s/00s
Dave & Mary Richardson – Circa 2000
Gill & Allan Wilson
John & Margaret Ball

Butchers Arms, Swinton

Butchers Arms, Swinton

Butchers Arms, Swinton

This public house was erected in the early 1970s when Swinton Precinct was created. It replaced a much smaller, 19th century public house, of the same name, that had stood close to the road.

Landlords have included:-

Jonah Jones – Circa 1900 to 1910s (perhaps longer)
Steve Wildman – 1970s/80s
John & Ann Preddy – 1980s/90s
Duncan Marklew – 2014 to

Patio Estate, Swinton

Calladine Way, Swinton - 03.08.13

Calladine Way, Patio Estate, Swinton

The Patio Estate, renamed to ‘Fitzwilliam Estate’ by Rotherham Council in the late 1990s, was built in the late 60s/early 70s. The roads on the estate were named after Swinton Councillors and the properties consisted of apartments built in blocks of two and three levels.

It was initially quite a prestigious place to live. People who moved here weren’t allowed to have rent arrears and were often professional people, like Teachers etc.

It is heated by a central boiler house which has been known to often break down over the years and perhaps one of the reasons why the estate became not quite as desirable as other places to live.

Antisocial behaviour became quite rife as time progressed, including the odd murder, to the point where Rotherham Council decided something had to be done about it. In the late 1990s, along with the name change, the third levels on the blocks were demolished, presumably to help with noise nuisance problems. A road was also put through the entire estate and a number of properties actually demolished.

I once visited an almost identical estate in Rotherham, in 1991, called, ‘The Lanes’. In contrast to the patio estate, the Lanes was very peaceful and well maintained by its residents. I asked why there was such a difference between the two estates and was told that the Lanes was inhabited almost exclusively by elderly people.

Brooks & Brooks Limited, Rotherham

Truncated Brooks Family Tree

Truncated Brooks Family Tree

Imperial Buildings, Rotherham

Imperial Buildings, Rotherham

Brooks and Brooks Limited was a very well known Tobacconist, located at 2 Imperial Buildings in Rotherham. I believe it had occupied this unit since the time that Imperial Buildings had opened in 1912.

Thomas Brooks, born circa 1849 in Lincoln, married Rose Alice Lilly in 1872 in Lincoln. Together, they issued at least seven children, two of them being, called, Charles James Brooks and Thomas Herbert Brooks.


Fitzwilliam Road, Rotherham

At some point between 1898 and 1901, Charles Brooks came to Rotherham with his wife, Esther Rebecca Drury, who he had married in 1898 in Lincoln. Charles and Esther issued two children, called, Violet Brooks (1899 to 1985) and Mary Theresa Brooks (1904 to 1988). In 1901, Charles and his family were living at 105 Fitzwilliam Road, Eastwood, Rotherham where Charles was also trading as a Hairdresser. By 1911, Charles and his family were living at 97 Fitzwilliam Road, Eastwood, Rotherham where he was still trading as a Hairdresser.

Thomas Brooks came to Rotherham sometime between 1901 and 1911. He came with his wife, Janet Geddes, who he had married in 1901 in Lincoln. Thomas and Janet issued two children, called, Doris Gwendoline Brooks (1903 to 1962) and Vera Irene Brooks (1906 to 1963). In 1911, Thomas and his family were living in his brother, Charles’s old home at 105 Fitzwilliam Road, Eastwood, Rotherham where Thomas was trading as a Tobacconist and Hairdresser.

Brooks & Brooks, 2 Imperial Buildings, Rotherham (1)

Brooks & Brooks

97 and 105 Fitzwilliam Street, Rotherham, have both been demolished; probably in the 1970s when a new road was planned for the area.

The above Charles Brooks and Thomas Brooks formed the business, ‘Brooks & Brooks Limited’.

The first mention of ‘Brooks & Brooks’ in a trade directory was in the 1902 edition of White’s Directory:-

Brooks Charles, hairdresser & tobacconist, 27 High street; h. 105 Fitzwilliam Road.

High Street, Rotherham (no. 25) - 27.07.15 (4)

27 High Street, Rotherham

The above 27 High Street forms part of the Three Cranes public house.

Other mentions of the business in the trade directories include:-

1912 White’s Directory

Brooks & Brooks, hair dressers, 2 Imperial buildings.

Brooks Charles, hair dresser & c. (B. & B.), 97 Fitzwilliam road.

Ghost Sign, Brooks & Brooks, 2 Imperial Buildings, Rotherham (2)

Brooks & Brooks Ghost Sign

1905 White’s Directory

Brooks Charles, hairdresser & tobacconist, 27 High street; h. 105 Fitzwilliam road.

1925 Kelly’s Directory

Brooks and Brooks Limited, wholesale & retail tobacconists, 2 Imperial buildings.

Brooks Charles, governing director Brooks & Brooks Ltd., h. 29 Broomfield grove.

Ghost Sign, Brooks & Brooks, 2 Imperial Buildings, Rotherham (1)

Brooks & Brooks Ghost Sign

1935 Kelly’s Directory

Brooks Chas. 29 Broomfield grove.

Thomas Brooks left Rotherham, although I don’t know when. The business seemed to be operated solely by Charles, but whether Thomas still had any kind of interest in it, I do not know. Thomas died in the Lincoln district in 1936.

My first experience of this shop was in 1991 when I purchased a cigarette case. Over the subsequent ten years, I would occasionally go in and purchase tobacco. I found it to be a wonderful place with the gorgeous aroma of tobacco filling the shop and fitted with vintage wooden decor which had probably barely changed since the shop’s opening. They had every variety and flavour of tobacco imaginable. When I frequented the shop, I was usually served with impeccable old-fashioned service by an elderly gentleman and a younger man, who I presumed were father and son and descendants of the above Charles Brooks or Thomas Brooks. When my parents used to purchase tobacco from here in the 1950s, they said that they too used to be served by an elderly gentleman and a younger man (I presumed the younger chap was the older one when I used to call in).

Brooks & Brooks, 2 Imperial Buildings, Rotherham (2)

Brooks & Brooks

When Charles died in 1941, one of the attendees at his funeral was ‘Mr. Swift (representing Messrs. Tylers, of Sheffield’. I discovered that Frederick Gordon Tyler (1885 to 1966) was a Tobacconist in Sheffield and in 1911 was residing at 12 Nether Edge Road, Sheffield and trading as a Tobacconist. His father, Thomas Tyler, was also a Tobacconist, so perhaps Frederick inherited the business. After Charles Brooks died, I believe that Frederick Tyler took over the business.

The above Frederick Tyler and his wife, Minnie Toft, issued just one child, a daughter, called, Joyce Fanny Tyler in 1926. I believe Joyce probably inherited the Brooks and Brooks business upon her father’s death. Joyce married Cecil Markham in 1940 in Southport, Lancashire. They issued two children, one of which was called, Sandra. Sandra married Keith Wortley.

Ghost Sign, Brooks & Brooks, 2 Imperial Buildings, Rotherham (3)

Brooks & Brooks Ghost Sign

I’m not sure of exactly who owned what etc., but certainly, in the latter years of the business, the business appeared to be operated by Cecil Markham and his son in law, Keith Wortley.

Cecil Markham passed away in 2002 aged 85, presumably working in the shop up to or almost to the end of his life. The shop was then sold and purchased by somebody, whose name I do not know. The new owner traded here until it was decided that the Imperial Buildings needed restoring and that the businesses occupying it would need to be moved out whilst the renovations took place, circa 2006/07. Rotherham had then lost its last Tobacconist, which had traded from the same shop for almost one hundred years.

2269 - Moorgate Cemetery, Rotherham (Hirst, Milnes, Sides) - 11.12.12 (2)

Doris & Dennis Milnes’s Grave in Moorgate Cemetery, Rotherham

Incidental, but Charles & Thomas Brooks had a sister, called, Eliza Mary Hannah Brooks. Eliza married Willie Milnes in 1898 in Rotherham. Eliza and Willie issued one son, called, Dennis Hirst Milnes in 1899. Dennis married Doris Ivy Sides in 1928 in Rotherham. Doris is a descendant of the Sharpley family of Swinton who were well-known farmers and business owners there. Dennis and Doris’s son, David Milnes, married my fourth cousin, Maureen Barron, in 1966. Between 1993 and 2009, David was a Director of The Rotherham Hospice. So whilst I am not related to the Brooks family, I do share a relationship with a few of their descendants.

Although I’m not sorry that tobacco smoking is a now dying habit, I’m disappointed that the business didn’t survive long enough to take advantage of the current electronic cigarette craze.

Charles Brooks

Charles Brooks

Below is a newspaper article pertaining to the death of Charles Brooks.




The death occurred in the Clifton Lane Nursing Home, Rotherham, on Saturday morning of Mr. Charles Brooks, founder of the firm of Brooks and Brooks, tobacconists, of High Street, Rotherham.

4460 - Saint Alban's Church, Wickersley (Brooks) - 07.09.17 (5)

Esther & Charles Brooks’s Grave

Mr. Brooks, who resided at “The Bungalow,” 2, Herringthorpe Avenue, Rotherham, was 65 years of age. Born in Rotherham, he commenced business as a tobacconist and hairdresser on his own account when he was 20 years of age. He retired from business last May.

Mr. Brooks leaves a widow and two daughters, Mrs. A. B. Woodcock, of Peterbro’, and Mrs. G. B. Gould of Rotherham.

Prior to interment in the Wickersley Churchyard on Wednesday, a service was held at, “The Bungalow.” The Rev. A. J. Yorke (Minister of the Talbot Lane Methodist Church) and the Rev. H. J. Spalding (priest-in-charge of St. Cuthbert’s Church, Herringthorpe) jointly officiated.


Saint Alban’s Church

The mourners included Mrs. Brooks (widow), Mr. and Mrs. Woodcock, of Peterbro,’ and Mr. and Mrs. Gould (sons-in-law and daughters), Mr. and Mrs. W. Milnes and Mr. and Mrs. McDermott (brothers-in-law and sisters), Mrs. Towras (sister), Mr. and Mrs. J. Brooks, Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Brooks and Mr. and Mrs. George Brooks (brothers and sisters-in-law), Miss Jeanne Woodcock (grand-daughter), Mr. and Mrs. D. H. Milnes (nephew and niece) and Mr. and Mrs. Fox (cousins), of Sheffield.

Others present included Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Collier, Mr. Puddephat, of Bournemouth, Mrs. Gracie, Mr. Sides, Mrs. Horne (manageress for Messrs. Brooks and Brooks), Mr. and Mrs. Pashley, of Leeds, Mr. and Mrs. T. Hewitt, of Lincoln, Mr. Jennison, Mr. Thacker, Mr. Walls, Mr. F. C. Ellis, Mr. H. E. Houghton, Mr. Ball, Mr. B. H. Taft (representing Messrs. Gallagher, Ltd.), Mr. Swift (representing Messrs. Tylers, of Sheffield), Mr. Arthur Pickles, Mr. Arthur, Mr. and Mrs. G. Emmerson, Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Parkin, Mr. F. Tarbit and Mr. A. R. W. Clarkson.

The funeral arrangements were carried out by Messrs. Moorhouse and Co. (Rotherham) Ltd., of Wellgate.

Station Street Chip Shop, Swinton

Station Street, Swinton - 23.05.16

Chip Shop, Station Street, Swinton

This building on the corner, to the older generation, is best known as ‘Elbeck’s chip shop’.

When the Elbeck family left, it was sold to Charlie and Georgina Cross. Charlie and Georgina left to run a chip shop in Cleethorpes.

I remember in 1992, it was renamed to ‘Land and Sea’.

In 1995, George Kalegerou took over the shop and was a very friendly owner. He renamed it to, ‘Athenia’ (after his daughter). People who can recall George will be familiar with his saying, as you walked through the door, of, ‘five minutes for cheeps’! Another familiar saying was ‘do want beets with the cheeps’?!

George left in 2010 and it was renamed again to ‘Station’. It seemed to exchange hands numerous times in the subsequent years before closing in 2016. It is, as of November 2017, empty and unused, with its final name change being, simply, ‘Fish & Chips’.

Perhaps in the 1980s, it had the nickname of, ‘Greasy Nicks’.

A fire engine once embedded itself in the chip shop whilst attending a 999 call out.

23 Piccadilly Road, Swinton

Former shop(s), Piccadilly Road, Swinton - 07.05.11 (3)

23 Piccadilly Road, Swinton

This shop, at 23 Piccadilly Road, was for many years owned by Alec Burden who was also a Milkman for the Piccadilly area.

According to Malcolm G. Plant’s book, ‘Piccadilly the Hamlet’, the shop was initially opened by Charles Green in 1926.

Alec sold the shop to the Bennett family.

I remember first going to the shop in 1991 and it was a small, typical, corner shop. I’m not sure exactly when it ceased trading, but I think probably in the mid to late 1990s. It is now a private dwelling.

The shop is also rumoured to be haunted!

Yorkshire Tar Distillers Limited

Former Croda, Kilnhurst

Former Croda Site

In 1886, Henry Ellison of Cleckheaton purchased four acres of land. This firm became known as Ellison & Mitchell Limited and distilled tar. In 1927, the important tar distillers amalgamated to form the Yorkshire Tar Distillers Limited. The Kilnhurst works expanded from four acres to thirty acres and a quantity of tar being distilled increased by five times. In later years the company was acquired by Croda and operated until circa 2000.

Carlisle Park, Swinton - 22.06.17 (5)

Carlisle Park, Swinton

Mr. George William Mitchell (69) of Amphion House, Avenue Road, Doncaster, died on Monday 5th July 1943. He had been a director of Yorkshire Tar Distillers since it’s formation in 1927.

After much controversy, ‘Gleeson Homes’ began building houses on the land here in 2013, after taking away contaminated soil and capping the earth a few feet down. As of November 2017, houses are still being built. This new housing estate is called, ‘Carlisle Park’.

John Baker & Bessemer Limited, Kilnhurst

Wharf Road, Canal & Railway, Kilnhurst - 22.06.17

New Wharf Road Estate in the distance

John Baker & Bessemer Limited, Kilnhurst

John Baker & Bessemer Limited, Kilnhurst

These steel works can be traced back to 1828. In 1863, the works were purchased by John Brown & Company of Sheffield at which time the works were known as Swinton Iron Works. John Baker purchased the works in 1903 and were renamed Kilnhurst Steel Works and began manufacturing component parts involving a Siemens Steel Melting Furnace. During the First World War, the company concentrated on shell forgings. In 1929, the company purchased 90% of the shares of Henry Bessemer & Company Limited, resulting in the changing of the works name again.

Gas was directly supplied to the steel works via a pipe that ran from Manver’s Main coking plant in Wath.

It was announced in October 1963 that Baker and Bessemer in Kilnhurst would be closed by owners, the United Steel Companies and the English Steel Corporation.

Circa 2009, a new housing estate was built on the site of these steel works on Wharf Road.

Glassworks, Swinton

White Lee Road, Swinton - 29.06.09 (35)

Avago Karting (site of the glassworks)

Circa 1850, James Tillotson came to Swinton, from the Leeds area and established a glassworks on White Lee Road. These glassworks would exchange hands in subsequent decades, notable owners being William Wilkinson and Dale, Brown & Company. The business was sold to United Glass in the early 1970s and finally to Canning Town Glass. The business was closed in 1988 with the loss of over 400 jobs.

(C) 93 (Tillotson) - 12.06.09 (2)

Tillotson family in grave in Saint Margaret’s Churchyard, Swinton

William Rupert Brown died in February 1929 at his home at 9, Priory Road, Sheffield. He was a member of Dale, Brown & Co. which they acquired in 1913 from the South Yorkshire Glass Bottle Company after they had been derelict and disused for two or three years. William was born in Stroud Green, North London and educated in London. As a youth, he was a traveller for a London glass bottle producer. At 19, he joined the staff of Alfred Alexandra & Company Limited and eventually became London manager of the firm. Mr. Brown, his future partner was at the time the works manager for the same firm in Hunslet. When they purchased the glassworks, William moved to Sheffield and Mr. Brown settled in Wath but later moved to Wetherby.

Gas was directly supplied to the glassworks via a pipe that ran from Manver’s Main coking plant in Wath.

The iconic chimney that belonged to the glassworks was finally demolished in 1996 and an indoor go-carting centre now occupies the land where the glassworks once stood.