Firstly, I must apologise to those of you who were unable to obtain a newsletter last month, unfortunately the photocopier broke and we were only able to put out a few - the rest to follow this month! Basically the contents were a recap on the newsletters of the past year.
Last year we had donated to the Society a small but important little document which told us that in 1843 Church Street was called Town Street. On Friday 29th January 1993 I went to the Local History Department of Doncaster Central Library
and there obtained another piece of information as to the history of Church Street. As I was putting together the front page of the first edition of the Mexborough and Swinton Times which I had just copied, Mr James, who was at our last meeting, came over to me to show me something which he had found on the 1861 census which was that on Church Street, between the George and Dragon and the Ferryboat Inn there was an Ale House (possibly the Ship Inn) there was also a smallholding called South Farm in the occupation of the Ward family. The main thing was that Church Street went under the name of Low Street. So ... we can now piece together the different names which refer to Church Street in the last century. Firstly, in 1843 it was called Town Street, then in 1861 it was called Low Street, then in 1872 it was officially given the name of Church Street by the Mexborough Local Board. Even then the very end of Church Street, from the last house to Doncaster Road, was called Cobble Stick Street for years afterwards.
Also this month, we have had donated two very interesting little books about the history of Montagu Hospital. One is entitled 'A Short History of the Montagu Hospital Mexborough 1889-1925' and the other is 'The Montagu Hospital Mexborough Jubilee Handbook 1890-1940'. They tell of how Mr C Ward of Mexborough was badly hurt down Denaby Pit, and how it took from 2 pm to 10 pm to get him to Doncaster where the nearest hospital at that time was, and on arrival how his leg had to be amputated. After he recovered he took a prominent part in agitating for a hospital in Mexborough, and how in 1890 a cottage hospital was opened on Bank Street, with its first matron Miss Moore. The population of our town and the surroundings began to grow and by 1901 it was found that the little cottage hospital was not big enough, so Dr Hathersley wrote to the trustees of Andrew Montagu in London suggesting that another site would be more suitable, and the one on Adwick Road was at last agreed upon. In April 1904 there came the laying of the foundation stone and the hospital was officially opened the following year, 1905. Inside these little books are to be seen photographs of people familiar to our older members like Doctors Ram, Huey and Lee. There are also photographs of wards and staff members.
With the opening of our new library I thought it would be a good idea to see what I could discover about the opening of our old library on Bank Street, and was lucky enough to acquire the complete write-up on the subject, which appeared in the Mexborough and Swinton Times at the time, and it seems to have been a huge celebration, not just for the dignitaries, but for the whole community. There was roughly 2,000 people crowded into the immediate area of the library. The schools had been closed for the day so the children could attend. There was a procession through the streets of dignitaries, bands and police, and the whole area was festooned in buntings and flags. It really must have been a colourful and joyful sight.
The Carnegie Free Library to give it its correct name was opened towards the end of May 1906 by Mr Kelley CC of Wath using a gold inscribed key. It was built using a gift of £2,000 from Mr Carnegie, the land having been donated by Mr Montagu. The Architects were a firm by the name of Deacon and Horsburgh of Liverpool, and it was built by George Saul of Rotherham. The Public Hall was not at first planed, but there was a sudden land movement when the library was being built, and they were compelled to elevate the library and it was decided to utilise the lower part.
Mr Turner who was chairman of the Library Committee states in his speech that Mexborough has electric light, excellent schools, one of which being among the best Secondary Schools in Yorkshire, there were plans for a Petty Sessional Court, trains and Public Baths.
After the opening of the main library, a reference library was planned and a plea for books was put out, the first to be donated was Milner's 'History of Doncaster' donated by the Rev W H F Bateman.
Prior to the opening of this library and public hall, it appears that there had been a library known as the Mexborough Plant Library and a public hall on Garden Street, but this was being used in 1906 as a joiner's shop.
It seems that a great time was had by all that day, and after the opening a tea for 300 was put on in the new public hall, with orchestra and male voice choir.
No procession or flags heralded the opening of our new library, which was opened at 2.30 pm on 18th January 1993 by Martin Redmond MP and we were represented by Mr Norman Watson, our Honorary President. We were also asked to put on an exhibition which we did, showing photographs of old Mexborough, and a display on Robert Glassby the Mexborough man who became Sculptor to Queen Victoria. Here I saw a list of his works and where they can be seen, and was surprised to find that some are quite close, such as Rotherham and Sheffield. One painting in particular I would like to see is a street in Mexborough in the middle of the last century. It will be interesting to see what life was like here before industrialisation, and when our town was still rural and agricultural. This exhibition is to be moved to Conisbrough Castle Visitors' Centre on 12th February.
Your archivist, Julia Ashby.
MEXBOROUGH AND DISTRICT HERITAGE SOCIETY Minutes of the meeting on Tuesday 26th January 1993
1 Joyce Thompson, Vice Chair, opened the meeting. (a) She informed members that there had been a change of dates for the summer visits, the Brodsworth Hall visit now being July and Conisbrough Castle and Church in May. (b) She told members about the exhibition the Society had mounted for the opening of the new Library which was still in place, and that we were mounting another similar exhibition at the Visitors' Centre, Conisbrough Castle on the weekend of the 13th-14th February.
2 Joyce introduced Mr Mike Taylor who spoke on the South Yorkshire Navigation. He showed 120 slides, accompanied by a very relaxed and informative description of each, showing his considerable involvement and interest in the waterway networks. The following shows the history of the development of the canal:
SUMMARY OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF NAVIGATION IN THE DON VALLEY River Don navigable to Doncaster from earliest records 14-15th C Stone for York Minster carried by water from Doncaster
by 1650 Vermuyden had drained Thorne Moors and built Dutch River
by 1740 Locks and canals constructed giving access to Rotherham
1780 Greasborough Canal opened (most of it disused by 1840)
by 1751 Craft could reach Tinsley (goods then roaded to Sheffield)
1802 Stainforth and Keadby Canal opened (access to River Trent)
1804 Dearne and Dove Canal opened (Swinton to Barnsley)
1819 Sheffield Canal opened (Tinsley to city basin)
1895 Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation Company formed
to run the 43 mile stretch of waterway from Sheffield to Keadby
1905 New Junction Canal opened to link S & SYN with Aire and
Calder Navigation (Goole to Leeds and Wakefield) Financed jointly by these two companies
1930s Improvements to navigation made at Sprotbrough,
Doncaster and Bramwith
1983 Improved S & SYN opened from Goole to Rotherham for 700
tonne capacity craft
The Early History of the Don Navigation by T S Willan (Manchester University Press 1965)
Canals of Yorkshire and North East England by Charles Hadfield (David and Charles 1973)
The Complete Book of Canal and River Navigations by Edward W Paget-Tomlinson (Waine Research Publications 1978 - new edition published by a Sheffield Company due to appear in 1993)
Humber Keels and Keelmen by Fred Schofield (Terence Dalton 1988)
Features on aspects of the S & SYN also appear in the monthly magazine `Waterways World' available from larger newsagents
The Secretary, Marion Broadhurst thanked Mike for a most enjoyable
and successful evening, it being the largest audience we have ever attracted. There were many visitors, and new members who joined.
30th March: The Railways of South Yorkshire - Philip Taylor of the South Yorkshire Railway Preservation Society (please note change of speaker)
27th April: AGM and members open evening. Please bring along any items of local interest such as photographs, books, posters and curios.
This will be an opportunity to discuss knowledge and local history findings.
25th May: Visit to Conisbrough Castle and St Peter's Church led by Mr Martin Jones
29th June: Tour of St John's Church and Churchyard, Mexborough led by Mr Norman Watson
27th July: Visit to Brodsworth Hall led by Mr Peter Gordon-Smith