The Blue Plaque
Heritage Trail in Rotherham
Rotherham District Civic Society is proud to have an impressive Blue Plaque scheme that is recognised and celebrated as a symbol of Rotherham's heritage and a living footprint of the Towns history. The increasing number of Blue Plaques unveiled serves as a permanent reminder to the important contributions of the history of Rotherham, the country and the World.
The Rotherham District Civic Society commemorates the contributions, lives and notable influences it has excerted together with succesful people from all walks of life.
Supported by Donations
The long term future of the Blue Plaque scheme relies upon the generosity of those who value its historic significance. As a Registered Charity we seek everyone support to continue the recognition and placement of these important markers.
The approximate manufacturing cost of a Blue Plaque is £500. If you value the work of the Rotherham District Civic Society please consider making a donation no matter how small.
You can make a donation:-
You can now listen to the narrative of each unvielled Blue Place to accompany the "Discovering Rotherham Blue Plaque Booklet". If you have enjoyed listening, please consider making a small donation.
There is also a link to Google Maps locating the many sites which forms Rotherham's Heritage Trail . The purpose of this trail is to help both residents and visitors to discover the many different aspects of Rotherham’s heritage, and the Civic Society’s role in helping to preserve it.
We would love to hear your thoughts about the trail and how long it takes. How did you visit the many places of interest, on Foot, Bike, Car or Bus?
The map will continue to become populated so please keep visiting the site.
Have we missed a place, event or a person of importance out? Why not get in touch!
Blue Plaque Scheme.
Hewett Cottrell Watson (1804 - 1881)
The first blue plaque unveiled on 15th September 2012 was to commemorate the life of Hewett Cottrell Watson who was born in Firbeck.
Hewett Cottrell Watson was a prominent English botanist and phytogeographer known for his significant contributions to the field of plant taxonomy. Watson was a pioneer in the study of British plants and their distribution, laying the foundation for modern plant geography.
He realised the importance of scientific enquiry and statistical methodology and developed a systematic approach to classifying and identifying plants, publishing works like "Compendium of British Plants" and "Cybele Britannica." Watson's focus on plant distribution and variation helped advance the understanding of plant ecology and evolution.
Charles Darwin drew heavily on Watsons understanding of the distribution of British Plant Species and invited Watson to discuss Darwin’s theory of evolution which acknowledges his vital source of scientific information; Watson declined the invitation as he did not like to travel!
His work greatly influenced subsequent generations of botanists and played a crucial role in shaping the field of plant science. Watson's dedication to botany and his meticulous documentation of plant species have left a lasting legacy in the scientific community.
Ian Bonner, President of the Botanical Society of the British Isles, unveiled the blue plaque.
Major General Anthony St Leger (1731-1786
Major General Anthony St Leger was a professional soldier and prominent military figure, Member of Parliament and racing man who founded the oldest classic horse race in the World.
In 1761 St Leger married Margaret Wombwell from Firbeck.
The St Leger Stakes was founded in 1776 is one of the oldest and most prestigious classic horse race held annually at Doncaster Race Course.
He established a two mile race for three year old horses on the Cantley Common in Doncaster which became the St Leger Stakes. He settled and established a stud farm in Firbeck.
The blue plaque was unveiled by Frankie Dettori, the famous jockey on 15th September 2012.
Ebenezer Elliot (1781-1849)
Ebenezer Elliott was an English poet and foundry owner, born in Masborough and rose to national prominence following the publication of his “Corn Law Rhymes” in 1831. He is associated with one of the greatest and important political changes of modern times.
The Corn Laws were imposed tariffs and trade restrictions on imported food and corn between 1815–1846. He led the fight to repeal the Corn Laws which caused hardship and starvation amongst the poor. He formed and established the Sheffield Anti-Corn Law Society and single handily setup the Sheffield Mechanics’ Institute. His significance was that he dared to challenge the government and fight injustice!
YE coop us up, and tax our bread,
And wonder why we pine;
But ye are fat, and round, and red,
And fill’d with tax-bought wine.
Thus, twelve rat’s starve while three
When fifteen rats are caged alive,
With food for ni ne and three.
He worshipped at the Downs Row Chapel where Jacob Brettell acted as his mentor. Elliott married in 1806 and had 13 children. There is a statue of him in Weston Park Sheffield.
This blue plaque was unveiled on the 21st March 2013 by Sarah Champion MP for Rotherham.
William Mason MA (1725-1797)
William Mason was a man of considerable abilities, a poet, Divine, amateur draughtsman, author, painter, musician, editor and garden designer.
His garden designs include one for Viscount Harcourt
His artwork was considered worthy of showing at the Royal Academy 1782-1786 which included scenes at York racecourse.
He entered the Church in 1754 and in 1762 became the Precentor and Canon of York Minster
William became Rector of All Saints Church Aston-Cum-Aughton between 1754 and 1797.
In 1757 William was appointed one of twelve Chaplains to King George II (1757-1772).
Mason was William Pitt the Younger’s choice to succeed William Whitehead as Poet Laureate but refused the honour. A marble memorial plaque is in Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey.
William gave support to his friend William Wilberforce in his campaign against slavery, and on 27th January 1788 during his sermon in York Minster where he preached for the abolition of slavery, he baptised Benjamin Moor, an American freed slave.
This blue plaque unveiling was arranged in association with Aston cum Aughton History Group and took place on the 30th March 2014.
This blue plaque unveiling was arranged in association with Aston cum Aughton History Group and took place on the 30th March 2014
Rose Heseltine (1822-1917)
Rose Heseltine was born in Rotherham on 13th December 1822.
Her father became Manager of the Sheffield and Rotherham Bank (more recently RBS on the High Street).
She married the famous novelist Anthony Trollope in Rotherham Minster (then Rotherham Parish Church) in June 1844.
Anthony worked in the Post Office as an Inspector and was promoted to Surveyor. He was from minor Aristocracy; his father’s first cousin was Sir John Trollope the Baronet of Casewick.
Rose was a strong supporter of Anthony’s writing, he was in his forties before he wrote “The Barchester Chronicles”.
Anthony continued to work for the Post Office until he retired in October 1867.
He wrote 47 novels, 42 short stories and 5 travel books including non-fiction books.
Anthony first introduced freestanding post boxes or pillar boxes to the UK after seeing them in France.
The blue plaque was unveiled on the 1st July 2014 by Cllr Maggi Clark, Deputy Mayor of Rotherham.
Joseph Stanley Crowther (1925-2013)
Stan Crowther was born on 25th May 1925 in William Street Wellgate. He worked as a journalist for the Rotherham Advertiser and The Yorkshire Evening Post.
He was Mayor of Rotherham twice and became a Labour Member of Parliament for Rotherham in 1976 until he retired in 1992.
Stan wrote songs about miners and steelworkers which were used in history classes in local schools. He played in many local clubs (known as the singing MP).
He was involved for 15 years at Rotherham Hospice.
Stan was a Founder member of Rotherham Civic Society and became Chairman in 1992 until 2010 when he stepped down from the role to become Honorary President.
Stan was awarded the Freedom of the Borough of Rotherham in 2009.
The blue plaque was unveiled on the 7th October 2015 by Cllr Maggi Clark, Mayor of Rotherham
Sire Donald Coleman Bailey OBE (1901-1985)
Donald Bailey was born in Rotherham on 15th September 1901, 24 Albany Street and educated at Rotherham Grammar School. Bailey was a Civil engineer.
Inventor of the Bailey Bridge which was so vital to the success of the Allied Forces in World War II. Field Marshall Montgomery declared that without the Bailey Bridge “we would not have won the war.” Bailey was Knighted in 1946 for his bridge design.
Over 6 thousand bridges were erected during the Second World War. The bridge is a portable pre-fabricated truss bridge.
The advantage is that it requires no special tools or heavy equipment to be assembled. The components of wood and steel were small and light enough to be transported and assembled by hand.
The bridge was strong enough to take the weight of trucks and tanks.
Ann Hinchliffe (1805-1873)
Ann published The Rotherham and Masborough Advertiser from a printing works and stationers in Rotherham High Street.
Her husband Joseph Hinchcliffe was a bookseller and after he prematurely died in 1843 she moved to a shop at 33 High Street and developed a successful business selling books and stationary.
Ann and Henry Epworth started running a printing and book binding business at the back of the shop before they began their joint venture publishing the newspaper.
The first copies were produced on 2nd January 1858.
The newspaper cost a penny and comprised four pages. Reported news included the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale and the Miners strike.
Early copies were printed behind the shop on High Street then moved to Caxton Works in All Saints Churchyard.
The business was sold after 8 years selling it in 1866 to J. F. Moss. However, the High Street business was continued by Ann’s youngest son George after her death in 1873.
This blue plaque was unveiled on the 1st November 2016 by Andrew Mosley, Editor of the Rotherham Advertiser.
Frederick Sewards Trueman OBE (1931-2006)
A Yorkshire and England cricketer and who later became a BBC Commentator and author. “Fiery Fred” was acknowledged as being one of the greatest fast bowlers in cricket’s history.
Born in Maltby and attended the local secondary school between 1942 and 1945.
The first bowler to take 300 Test wickets on 15th August 1964.
He appeared in 603 first class matches including 67 Test matches.
The Second blue plaque for Fred Trueman was unveiled at the Queens Hotel by his sister Flo Halifax recognising where he waited for the bus to take him to his first Yorkshire Federation cricket match.
Derek Dalton (1947-1993)
Derek Dalton was a notable figure associated with Rotherham United Football Club.
He was a dedicated supporter and major fundraiser who played a crucial role in the club's fan base. Dalton's passion for the team and his unwavering support made him a beloved figure among Rotherham United supporters
He dedicated his life to the Millers despite being disabled by polio at the age of 2.
He was known nationally by football fans and supporters and always ended every conversation with “Up the Millers”.
The Westfield Health disabled enclosure is dedicated to Derek.
Presented the Queen with a Rotherham United Pennant on her visit to Rotherham and even sent one to Neil Armstrong to take to the Moon such was his devotion to his beloved Rotherham United.
Peter Bartle (1932-2006)
Peter attended Doncaster Road Primary and Spurley Hey Central Schools where his early artistic talent was recognised.
Peter was a railway signalman who became a self taught artist.
As an untutored artist, he painted over 100 scenes including those of Rotherham and the railways from memory.
A book of his paintings was published by the Civic Society depicting bygone days and life on the railway.
Peter had the unique approach of painting using the bottom of drawers and wardrobes discarded in skips as his canvases.
His work was recreated from memory.
His work is being featured in a new project about life and culture on British railways by researchers at the University of Sheffield and the National Railway Museum.
One of his pieces of artwork of the Mallard steam train has been displayed in the Mayor of Scarborough’s parlour for many years.
Charles Sergent Jagger MC ARA (1885-1934)
The Society is delighted to have unveiled its latest Blue Plaque dedicated to the World renown Sculptor who was born and educated in Kilhurst. He won a scholarship to London's Royal College of Arts wherre he studies Sculpture.
Jagger was awarded a commission in 1915 and served in the 4th battalion of the Worcestershire REgiment and was sent to Gallipoli. He was awarded the Military Cross. After being gassed and wounded he was commisioned by the British War Memorials Committee to produce a large relief. Over the next several years he completed many war memorials
The Blue Plaque was unveiled by local historian Nora Platt.
William Green (1717-1777)
William played a major role in the rise of Methodism in the Rotherham area during the mid 18th Century.
He was one of the Protestant Dissenters who suffered from physical violence and fierce hostility from local mobs.
William acted as a book agent for John Wesley selling books to members of the Rotherham society who were so poor they often paid by instalments even though some of the books only sold for one penny.
He set up his own school for local children.
Founder of the Methodist Society in Rotherham and of the Octagonal Chapel built in 1761 which cost £235.16s 3p. He paid the workmen’s wages and other expenses out of his own pocket.
Fifteen Methodist Octagons are known to have been built, the first Octagon was built in Rotherham which John Wesley commented as a model design.
The Culters Arms
The Cutlers Arms has been a public house in Westgate Rotherham since 1825.
It was rebuilt in 1907 by Stones Brewery to accommodate road widening in Westgate for trams.
It was used as a Coroner’s Court and an Enlistment Office in WWI.
In 2004 the exterior and interior of the building was statutorily listed Grade II.
When the building’s future as a Public House came under serious threat in 2013 the Society successfully applied for the building to be registered as an Asset of Community Value under the new Localism Act. The enhanced legal status contribution to the decision by its owner to agree to lease the building to the Chantry Brewery.
In 2014 the Chantry Brewery were presented with the Stan Crowther Environmental Award in recognition of the careful renovation work it had carried out on the Cutlers’ Arms and the nearby New York Tavern.
Ivy Cottage - Parish Workhouse
The land was purchased by the Feoffees in 1659 to house their job creation scheme employing paupers to weave cloth. At its peak 44 families worked here.
The scheme was financed from a legacy of £100 left to the poor by the Earl of Shrewsbury in 1617.
In 1757 profits from loans to local business people were used to install new glazing and purchasing further manufacturing materials.
Over the following years the income swung from making a loss to returning back to profit where the initiative finally ceased in 1839.
The Poor Relief Act introduced in 1834 included the introduction of formal workhouses and saw the responsibility taken out of the hands of the Feoffees under the jurisdiction of a “Board of Guardians” chaired by The Earl Fitzwilliam.
Built by the Feoffees of the Common Lands of Rotherham in 1634 to house the Workhouse Master.
Became a private dwelling when the Union Workhouse opened in Alma Road in 1839 and a dental practice from 1901.
The blue plaque was unveiled by Mr Giles Bloomer, Greave of the Feoffees of the Common Lands of Rotherham, on the 28th September 2019.
Fred Kitchen (1890-1969)
Fred was a farm labourer with little formal education who became a writer, radio broadcaster, journalist and Lay Preacher who as a young boy worshipped at Wesleyan Methodist Chapel.
Fred borrowed extensively from the public library and became inspired by the works of Dickens, George Elliot and other writers.
He studied in 1933 with the local branch of Workers Education Association (WEA) where he was encouraged to write.
He recorded a personal diary for over 50 years.
He wrote over 16 books which were well received about farming experience; best known work includes “Brother to the Ox” an autobiographical account of a countryman’s life during the first half of the 20th Century in Northern England.
His book was adapted for BBC radio and by ITV in 1981, which is an account of a countryman’s life which uncharacteristically portrayed the way of life that as unromantic. Fred was unconcerned with presenting the country living as idyllic which was the fashion of the time
Dorothy Greene (1899-1998)
Dorothy was a Local Historian and Archaeologist. She researched the History of the College of Jesus; founded by Archbishop of York, Thomas Rotherham who instigated the buildings in College Street to rival the colleges of Cambridge and Oxford in1483 (A 17th Century doorway from the college was re-erected in Boston Park).
In 1941, Dorothy became honorary keeper of Roman Antiquities for Clifton Museum. She worked on the Roman excavation of the Roman Fort at Templeborough in 1917.
Dorothy became an unofficial advisor for archaeology and historic discoveries within Rotherham.
She wrote many articles, journals and books on Roman Antiquities which are held in Rotherham Museum.
Dorothy was awarded an Honorary Degree by Sheffield University in 1960 for her research work.
Dorothy was given the Freedom of Rotherham Borough in 1971 for her work in promoting and identifying the importance of Rotherham Heritage.
Tommy James (1898-1971)
Tommy was born in Alma Road Workhouse in Rotherham. He was a universal advocate of the poor and oppressed.
He went to fight in the Spanish Civil War for democracy as a member of the International Brigade and returned a war hero.
Member of the Communist Party (1922) was against Fascism for peace and freedom.
Tommy greeted Pablo Picasso on his visit to Sheffield for the 1950 World Peace Council.
Tommy wrote about his experiences of fighting in Spain entitled “Pounded Earth” in 1939 where he described the wider perspective on the 1936-1939 Spanish War’s military campaign. His 50 year fight in support of the poor and unemployed in Rotherham underpinned his political outlook.
There is a Memorial seat and stone obelisk on Doncaster road near Clifton Park. Inscription:
“Fighter for Peace and Freedom”.
Tommy became President of Rotherham Trades Council and was posthumously made a Freeman of the Borough of Rotherham in 1971 in the year of his death.
He was described as “A lion of a man”.
John Mason (1831-1914)
John Mason was a Jeweller and clock maker. His high street shop was described as one of the best of its kind in the North of England.
John became a Councillor in the 1880’s and served as Mayor of Rotherham between 1888-89.
As a watchmaker and jeweller he commissioned the Feoffees mace and other regalia including the Mayor’s chain and mace. John built the mechanism for the Hastings clock which was placed in Effingham Square in 1912 to celebrate the coronation of King George V.
In his obituary it was noted that he was one of the oldest inhabitants and best known public workers in Rotherham.
Thomas Badger (1793-1862)
Thomas was a Solicitor articled in 1810 to Joseph Wheatley the leading solicitor in the town and became a partner five years later. In 1819 he set up practice on his own account and two years later went to reside and practice at 29 High Street.
In 1829 he was elected Coroner and presided over many inquests including those held following several major disasters. Huskar Moorend Pit Coal Mine Disaster 4th July 1838 when 26 children were drowned at the coal mine. Masborough Boat Disaster when 50 children and adults died during the launch of the boat.
He had an interest in the railways and took a leading role in the formation of the Rotherham Gaslight and Coke Company.
In 1839 he was elected President of the Yorkshire Law Society.
In 1853 he and members of his family purchased the Eastwood Estate which together with the Earl of Effingham’s land would, over subsequent decades, be transformed into a major new residential area.
The Charity School - The Bluecoats School
Feoffees School was built by the Feoffees of the Common Lands of Rotherham on Land given to them by Thomas Howard 3rd Earl of Effingham on the Crofts.
The School which was founded in 1708 with the intention of teaching and clothing poor children and for instruction in the knowledge and duties of the Christian Religion.
The school was built by the Feoffees on the Common Lands of Rotherham in 1776 to house the Charity School.
The Hon Thomas Wentworth gave £136 and Rev Henry Robinson of St Johns Church gave £100 along with further donations to buy the land in Ecclesfield. The land purchased in Ecclesfield was to provide an annual income for the school. Further donations were received by local gentleman amounting to £281 (8s 9d).
The school was known at the Bluecoat school because in 1776 blue jackets and breeches with blue caps were worn. Girls wore blue serge dresses with narrow red cuffs, linen caps and tippets.
Once children could read they would then progress to writing and arithmetic so that they could be better qualified for service and apprenticeships.
The building had various uses until it was sensitively restored as a public house in 1981 and further extended in 2000 by J. D. Wetherspoon PLC.
The blue plaque was unveiled by Tony Grice, the Greave of Feoffees, on 19th August 2021.
James Edward Kinght (1867-1930)
The Society is delighted to have unveiled its latest Blue Plaque dedicated to Rotherham Architect, James Edward Knight (1867-1930).
It will be very difficult to avoid his designs as you walk through the Town Centre and beyond.
Lieutenant Colonel James Edward Knight's architecture includes:
White Hart Hotel
New Chancel Screen and Choir Stall - Rotherham Minster
Rotherham War Memorial
Unionist Club - Doncaster Gate
St Peter's Church - Whinney Hill
Thurcroft Colliery Housing
East Dene Primary School
The Bridge Inn
The Stag Inn
The Cross Keys and many more.
The Blue Plaque was unveiled by Rotherham Advertiser Editor, Andrew Mosley.
Charles Sydney Gibbes (1867-1930)
The Societies 23rd Blue Plaque commemorates Charles Sydney Gibbes (1867-1930) The Blue Plaque was unveiled on 15 th September 2022 by Tim Mumford President of Rotherham GrammarnSchool Old Boys Association.
Tutor to the children of Emperor Nicholas II the last Tsar of Russia. He identified the remains of the Tsar’s family following their murder in Ekaterinburg in 1918. Later became known as Father Nicholas the first English Abbott in the Russian Orthodox Church,.
4 Station Road Masbrough
Many WWII Ex-Servicemen who did not wish to return to Poland under Communist control made 4 Station Road Masbrough their home between 1948-1991.
The property was visited on 5th May 1962 by General T. Bor-Komorowski, the leader of the Warsaw Uprising (1944).
The uprising was against occupying Nazi Germany - a major WWII event. The people of Rotherham sponsored a Spitfire to fight the Nazis, which was flown by a Polish pilot.
Polish ex-servicemen used the house as a place to find their feet before moving on and settling down with families.
After 1955, when Antoni Jalowiczor who was a Rotherham Polish community pioneer bought the house it became the thriving thub of the Polish community.
The number making Rotherham their home rose to around 300-500 working in the Steel and mining industry.
Thomas Rotherham (1423-1500)
Thomas was a Rotherham cleric and statesman and rose to the position of Lord Chancellor of England and Archbishop of York.
Thomas was educated at King’s College Cambridge, graduating as a Bachelor of Divinity and became a Fellow of the College where he lectured on Grammar, Theology and Philosophy.
He was appointed Bishop of several dioceses starting at Salisbury in 1465 where he moved onto powerful positions in the Church, being appointed as Bishop of Rochester in 1468, Bishop of Lincoln in 1472 and then Archbishop of York in1840 a position he held until his death in 1500
In 1467, King Edward IV appointed Thomas as Keeper of the Privy Seal. He was sent as ambassador to France in 1468 and joint ambassador to Burgundy in 1471 and in 1475.
Thomas who became Lord Chancellor in 1477 until his death is buried in York Minster in a marble tomb in 1506.
The Rotherham Grammar School looked upon Thomas Rotherham as its founder in 1483 and adopted its badge the armorial bearings of Thomas Rotherham and is still remembered in the name Thomas Rotherham College as the descendant of the Rotherham Grammar School for Boys.
The chapel of Jesus is in Rotherham Minster whilst the Grade II listed remains of the College of Jesus are in Effingham Street behind the Pawnbrokers shop.
The Blue Plaque was unveiled on Tuesday 1st August 2023 by Sarah Champion MP.
Arthur Wharton (1865-1930)
Born in Ghana, Arthur became the World’s first black professional footballer when signed for Rotherham Town FC in 1889. He was a goal keeper for the club at the Clifton Lane Sports Ground between 1889-1894 and also 1895- 1896 season. He went on to play for Stockport County before retiring in 1903. He was described as “magnificent, invincible and superb”.
As well as playing for Rotherham he became licensee of the Albert Tavern in Rotherham and later ran the Plough Inn public house in town.
After moving to Darlington in 1882 he trained as a Methodist Missionary but opted instead to become a full time athlete. He excelled in cricket, boxing, cycling and Rugby League & Union.
Arthur was an all round sportsman and in 1886 set a new World Record of 10 seconds for the 100 yard sprint in the AAA Championships where he received the Prince Hassan Cup. He was the first black athlete to win an AAA Championship. His speed was unquestionable and even up to his fifties eyewitness reported that “he could catch pigeons”.
He returned to Yorkshire in 1903 and is buried at Edlington Cemetery near Doncaster.
There is a 16 foot statue of Arthur at St George’s Park (England Football HQ).
The blue plaque was unveiled on Thursday 7th September 2023 by Shaun Campbell, founder of the Arthur Wharton Foundation.
Sir Charles John Stoddard (1839 - 1913)
Charles Stoddart, a 19th century industrialist was born in London. He started his career at the age of 15 as an office boy working in Westminster for the Park Gate Ironworks in their London Office. In 1864 he became assistant secretary in Parkgate. He progressed in becoming Works Manager, Managing Director and Chairman of the company.
The Ironworks has a prestigious pedigree of producing quality Iron & Steel. In 1854 Samuel Beal and Company produced cast iron armour plating for Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s ocean liner the SS Great Eastern.
In 1913 having been mayor of Rotherham four times, he approached the Feoffees with a plan to restore the Chapel on the Bridge from a dwelling to ecclesiastical once again. Charles Stoddart bought the business from the tobacconist and immedietly closed the shop with work commencing to turn the building back into a place of worship. Unfortunatly Stoddart passed away a few month before work was completed. The onset of the first World War stalled development plans, but having left £500 in his will to complete the restoration, the Feoffees agreed to grant Stoddart’s wishes, and handed the rights of the building over to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in December 1916.
Charles became Rotherham’s first Knight in 1911 and became the first person to be granted the Freedom of Rotherham Borough in 1907. He was also the first president of the original Rotherham Town football club.
This blue plaque was unveiled on Friday 8th September 2023 by John Healey MP.