Rotherham is a large town in South Yorkshire, England, which together with its conurbation and outlying settlements to the north, south and and south-east forms the Metropolitan Borough of Rotherham, with a recorded population of 257,280 in the 2011 census. Historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire, its central area is on the banks of the River Don below its confluence with the Rother on the traditional road between Sheffield and Doncaster. Rotherham is today the largest town in a contiguous area with Sheffield, informally known as the Sheffield Urban Area and is as such an economic centre for many of Sheffield's suburbs — Sheffield City Centre is from Rotherham town centre.
Note: Rotherham is 6 miles (10 km) from Sheffield City Centre.
Iron Age and Roman settlements dot the area covered by the district, including a small Roman fort to the south-west in the upper flood meadow of the Don. Rotherham was founded in the very early Middle Ages. Its name is from Old English hām 'homestead, estate', meaning 'homestead on the Rother'. The river name was carried into Old English from Brittonic branch of Celtic words: ro- 'over, chief' and duβr 'water', thus 'main river'; a similar size namesake is in East Sussex, see Rother. It established itself as a Saxon market town, on a Roman road near a forded part of the River Don.
By the late Saxon period, Rotherham was at the centre of a large parish on the Don's banks.
Following the Norman Conquest an absentee lord held the most inhabited manor, Nigel Fossard (however today's city proper takes in eight outyling Domesday estates). The Domesday 'Book' or Survey records this lord of the manor with a Norman name took the place of the Saxon lord Hakon holding 20 years before in 1066 and was tenant of an overlord of hundreds of such manors, Robert de Mortain, the Conqueror's half-brother. The central assets at the time were medium in rank among manors: eight adult male householders were counted as villagers, three were smallholders and one the priest, three ploughlands were tilled by one lord's plough team and two and a half men's plough teams were active. The manor's other resources were a church, four loosely called 'acres' of meadow, and seven of woodland. Rotherham had a mill valued at an ordinary half of one pound sterling.
His successors, the De Vesci family, rarely visited the town and did not build a castle but maintained a Friday market and a fair. In the mid 13th century, John de Vesci and Ralph de Tili gave all their possessions in Rotherham to Rufford Abbey, a period of growing wealth in the church. The monks collected tithes from the town and gained rights to an extra market day on Monday and to extend the annual fair from two to three days.
The townsmen of Rotherham formed the "Greaves of Our Lady's Light", an organisation which worked with the town's three guilds. It was suppressed in 1547 but revived in 1584 as the feoffees of the common lands of Rotherham, and remains in existence.
In the 1480s the Rotherham-born Archbishop of York, Thomas Rotherham, instigated the building of a College of Jesus or Jesus College, Rotherham to rival the colleges of Cambridge and Oxford. It was the first brick building in what is now South Yorkshire and taught theology, religious chant and hymns, grammar and writing.
The College and new parish church of All Saints made Rotherham an enviable and modern town at the turn of the 16th century. The college was dissolved in 1547 in the reign of Edward VI, its assets stripped for the crown to grant to its supporters. Very little remains of the original building in College Street. Walls of part of the College of Jesus are encased within number 23 and Nos 2, 2A, 4 (later for a time Old College Inn, a beerhouse), 6 and 8 Effingham Street. Its fragments of walls are the earliest surviving brick structure in South Yorkshire and are remains of the key institution to Rotherham's growth into a town of regional significance. Sixty years after the College's dissolution Rotherham was described by a wealthy visitor as falling from a fashionable college town to having admitted gambling and vice. The history of Thomas Rotherham and education in the town are remembered in the name of Thomas Rotherham College.
The region had been exploited for iron since Roman times, but it was coal that first brought the Industrial Revolution to Rotherham. Exploitation of the coal seams was the driving force behind the improvements to navigation on the River Don, which eventually formed the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation system of navigable inland waterways.
In the early Industrial Revolution major uses of iron demanded good local ore and established processing skills for iron strength, qualities found in Rotherham's smelting plants and foundries. Iron, and later steel, became the principal industry in Rotherham, surviving into the 20th century. The Walker family built an iron and steel empire in the 18th century, their foundries producing high quality cannon, including some for the ship of the line HMS Victory, and cast iron bridges, one of which was commissioned by Thomas Paine.
Rotherham's cast iron industry expanded rapidly in the early 19th century, the Effingham Ironworks, later Yates, Haywood & Co, opened in 1820. Other major iron founders included William Corbitt and Co; George Wright and Co of Burton Weir; Owen and Co of Wheathill Foundry; Morgan Macauley and Waide of the Baths Foundry; the Masbro’ Stove Grate Co belonging to Messrs. Perrot, W. H. Micklethwait and John and Richard Corker of the Ferham Works.
The Parkgate Ironworks was established in 1823 by Sanderson and Watson, and changed ownership several times. In 1854, Samuel Beal & Co produced wrought iron plates for Isambard Kingdom Brunel's famous steamship the SS Great Eastern. In 1864, the ironworks was taken over by the Parkgate Iron Co. Ltd, becoming the Park Gate Iron and Steel Company in 1888. The company was purchased by Tube Investments Ltd in 1956 and closed in 1974. Steel, Peech and Tozer's massive Templeborough steelworks (now the Magna Science Adventure Centre) was, at its peak, over a mile (1.6 km) long, employing 10,000 workers, and housing six electric arc furnaces producing 1.8 million tonnes of steel a year. The operation closed down in 1993.
Joseph Foljambe established a factory to produce his Rotherham plough, the first commercially successful iron plough.
A glass works was set up in Rotherham in 1751, and became Beatson Clark & Co, one of the town's largest manufacturers, exporting glass medicine bottles worldwide. Beatson Clark & Co was a family business until 1961, when it became a public company. The glass works operated on the same site, although the family connection ceased and the company is owned by Newship Ltd, a holding company linked to the industrialist John Watson Newman. It continues to the manufacture glass containers for the pharmaceutical, food and drinks industries. In the 19th century, other successful industries included pottery, brass making and the manufacture of cast iron fireplaces. Precision manufacturing companies in the town include AESSEAL, Newburgh Engineering, Precision Magnetics, Orkot Composites and Darron Oil Tools SBO. Rotherham is the location of the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP).
Milling grain into flour was a traditional industry in Rotherham, formerly in the Millmoor area, hence Rotherham United F.C.'s nickname "The Millers". Flour milling continued at the Rank Hovis town mill site on Canklow Road until September 2008. The site of the mill is a warehousing and distribution facility for Premier Foods.
Floods of 2007
Rotherham was affected by the floods in the summer of 2007, which closed some particularly central roads, schools, transport services and damaged residential and commercial property. The Parkgate Shopping centre was flooded. Ulley Reservoir caused major concern when its dam showed signs of structural damage, threatening to break and release the water into Treeton, then lower Brinsworth and Canklow by the Rother and the Junction 33 electrical sub-station. Rother FM evacuated its studios passing its frequency temporarily to Trax FM. A stretch of the M1 motorway was closed for three days owing to the flood risk in the event of a breach of the reservoir. Fire service and police officers used thirteen high-powered pumps to lower the water level in the reservoir and reduce pressure on the dam wall, which was damaged but held. By summer 2008, the reservoir and surrounding country park reopened.
A new wetland and flood storage area, Centenary Washlands, has since been built by Rotherham Council and the Environment Agency to prevent flooding in the future. Sheffield Wildlife Trust manages the site as a local nature reserve.
Child Abuse Scandal
Following the discovery of organised, large-scale sexual abuse of young children in Rotherham Rotherham Council commissioned Professor Alexis Jay, a former chief social work adviser to the Scottish government, to lead an independent inquiry about the handling of the cases and a suspected child exploitation network. She issued an exploitation Report stretching beyond police-level investigated cases. Her report of August 2014 revealed an unprecedented scale of reported child sexual abuse within an urban area of this size over a 16-year period.
Her report, and a subsequent Best Value/Fit for Purpose report by Louise Casey, stated that a majority of the known perpetrators were of Pakistani heritage, and reported a denial of severity which was to an extent the responsibility of councillors. The report concluded that at the time of her inspection the Council were not fit for purpose and identified some necessary measures for preventing further repetition. On 4 February 2015, after receiving Casey's report, Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said that commissioners would be appointed to the run the council pending new elections, and the council leader and cabinet resigned en masse to allow for a 'fresh start'. The National Crime Agency was called in to investigate whether Rotherham councillors were complicit in hiding the depth and scale of the child abuse (the figure of 1,400 children is now said to be conservative) due to a 'fear of losing their jobs and pensions' following a concern that they might be considered 'racist' if they spoke out. Also, according to the new report the councillors were driven by "misplaced political correctness".