Whiston Sign Whiston Heritage Society
Rotherham, South Yorkshire

Recent Activities and Events

First Meeting of 2019 (Tuesday 8th January 2019)
Mr. Tompkin spoke to members about the Chesterfield Canal - he started with explaining why the building of canals in C.18 was so important for the success of the Industrial Revolution and then went on the explain about the building of the canal and the raising of the money to do this. Much of his information came from a book giving the minutes of the Company 1771-1780. The figure of £100,000 was raised and a further similar sum was also needed to build the canal. Mr.Brindley had anticipated the whole job would be done in two years - but due to the complexities of the Norwood Tunnel it took about four years.

The canal has some really rare features - the tunnel (one of the longest in the country), the lock flights to and from the tunnel - rare examples of staircase locks (part of the 65 locks in all on the canal) and the boats - cuckoo boats which were always horse pulled and never lived in by the people who used them - a rarity. The names of all the people who sold goods to the canal during the building are all known - included Walker Brothers of Rotherham (ironwork). Millions of bricks were made on site to complete the work. Most of the shares were held by a large variety of people - only the Dukes of Newcastle and Devonshire had large holdings (and that only c.30 shares each). Little is known of the names of the workers - save for two who died working on the tunnel.

The work itself was mainly by pick, shovel and wheelbarrow. Mr. Tompkin showed members various documents - including the Act of Parliament granting permission, a map showing the route, and two lists showing what was carried on the canal - mostly coal and grain and the accounts of the Company. He also showed copies of items from the Derby Mercury showing an account of the opening of the canal and some early adverts. His talk concluded with a series of pictures he himself took of a walk down the canal from Kiveton to Shireoaks - which revealed the lovely nature of the area through which the canal passes. after refreshments

Mr. Rivington held a short business meeting where he urged anyone interested to join the committee and also to come up with ideas for talks and events. Two good suggestions were made - one a walk down the canal as done by Mr.Tompkin and a visit to Wentworth Woodhouse. We also welcomed a further new member Mr. Bill Reeve.

2018 saw some major changes in the Heritage Society – aimed at making it more visitor friendly and widening our appeal. This has been done through the committee which now meets regularly to plan the meetings and activities.

During the year we purchased a new plaque which can now be seen installed at the Waterloo Well. We also held two excursions – one to the remains of Sheffield Manor House the other to Hardwick Hall. Some members have also visited other societies to find out what they do – included in this was a visit to Worksop to hear a most interesting talk on work taking place to restore Chesterfield Canal. We also successfully negotiated for a one day opening of the Manorial Barn in support of the Heritage Open Days scheme. New publications were a 2019 Calendar for Whiston and Memories of Whiston by Harry Armitage - the well-known Whiston character. Both these items together with other publications are on sale at £3.00 each – contact tompbox1@aol.com to arrange a suitable time to view and collect. We also moved our meeting place back to the Village Hall on Tuesday evenings.

The format of our meetings has now been changed and it is usual for us to start with a talk (often by a visiting speaker), followed by refreshments and then a short business meeting to keep members up to date with recent developments and plans.

The July 2018 meeting was the first where we invited a guest speaker – Mr Pat McLoughlin. His topic was “The Castles of South Yorkshire” – which covered not only TIckhill (home once of the de Busli’s) and Conisbrough (of the de Warenne’s) but also showed views of the remains of a number of motte and bailey castles which once stood in the area. These included castles at Kimberworth and Laughton-en-le-Morthen among others – photographs revealed that there is still evidence of them on and in the ground. Then in September 2018 we welcomed Mr Alex Sotheran who spoke about his work on “Battlefield Archaeology” – concentrating largely on digs on the Western Front near Thiepval where many items dating from WW1 were discovered – including the remains of a tank and various skeletons. Two of the skeletons were German soldiers and it proved possible to find out who they were and to show photographs of them before they were killed. Perhaps the most amazing discovery was a WW1 greatcoat in remarkable condition. This was followed in October by Mr David Templeman, who gave a talk on “The Great Sheffield Deerpark” (in which was situated the Sheffield Manor which we had visited earlier in the year). This was one of the largest Parks in the country – stretching from the site of Sheffield Castle to cover a large area of Sheffield now largely built on – the walls round it were eight miles long and the deer were not kept for hunting but for eating! The Park flourished up to the time that the Howards took control of the area – after that much was sold or let and houses, coal mines and iron works appeared; and the woodlands were cut down. However, to this day, some small areas remain untouched and can be visited. Finally in November we had the pleasure of listening to our own Chairman, Mr Rivington, speaking about his research into Roman roads in the Whiston area. Much currently remains as speculation as little has been found, but it is clear that, with Templeborough fort nearby, Roman roads must have been in the area. Work is currently being undertaken by Sheffield University on this topic and we were able to look again at some slides of a dig conducted in the 1950s by Mrs Dorothy Green, near to the Spa Farm at Guilthwaite, that indeed discovered a section of Roman road. Interestingly some of our members, then attending South Grove School, were able to visit the dig to see what had been discovered.

Our programme for the early part of 2019 is now available and will found in upcoming events. An important change is that meetings are now held monthly.