At the last meeting in February I was able to tell you that our society had been able at long last to buy a filing cabinet in which to store its archive material, which has until now been in cardboard boxes behind my settee. It has cost more than I had expected but it is flame resistant, will take all types of files and the bottom drawers are suitable for the storage of old documents or maps. Also unlike most secondhand filing cabinets it will lock. In short it is exactly what we needed to store our increasing archive material in safety. This we desperately needed. After my request for a volunteer to pain it at our last meeting Mr. James came to the rescue and has made an excellent job of painting it. It looks brand new. Well done and thanks Mr. James from all of us.
A few months ago someone donated to the Society (I believe it was Barrie Chambers) TWO MEXBOROUGH DIRECTORIES (these are a list of professional and business people in Mexborough in a certain year). One is of 1877, the other, I believe, to be 1906 or thereabouts, perhaps someone could put me wise on this and on looking through the directories I find one or two interesting things which I have listed below:-
The River Dun Company and South Yorkshire Railway Company own a Canal and Railway in this town. There is also a station. It is called Mexborough Junction. Mexborough Church, St. John The Baptist's was built in 1080 and its register goes back to 1560. The vicar is the Reverend Henry Ellershaw M.A. There is also a Mission Chapel at Denaby Colliery. The National School (now known as St. John's) was built by public subscription in 1865 with a Sunday School attached. There are six Alms Houses built in 1669 by Messrs. Home and Calverly. The common has been enclosed. There are extensive ironworks for the manufacture of railway wheels and axles. There is also the manufacture of earthenware and The Don Glassworks. There are several stone quarries which supply Sheffield with grinding stones. There is a brewery, boatyard and also fine beds of coal. There is an establishment for post, Money Orders, Telegraph, Savings Bank, Government Annuity Insurance Office and Stamp Office. The town also has a sub-postmaster (there was only a sub-postmaster in those days) whose name is Walter Ainley and letters arrive from London and other areas through Rotherham. There is a School Board, Insurance Agent, Local Board and Police Station with George Addy as sergeant. There is also a Register Office, Collector of Poor Rates, and Medical Officer. There are also two schools, one a Board School and the other is The National School.
Many of the occupations of the people were as you would expect for the times, with 13 keel owners, 5 farmers, and 75 shopkeepers of different sorts. There were one or two from this list who are worthy of mention: James Walter Ainley our first sub-postmaster, Bolsover & Sons Brewers of Mexborough .Brewer Co-operative, High Street and Swinton Road, Joseph Dickenson, Dining Rooms, High Street Thomas Halladay, Bottle Mould Maker, Market Street, Thomas Lewis, Bellman (Town Crier) Market Street, George Makin, Clogger, High Street, John Pitt Makin. Auctioneer, Appraiser, Estate Agent, Farmer and Proprietor of The Clayfield and Olive Branch
By the beginning of the twentieth century Mexborough had acquired the main station en route between Sheffield and Doncaster. Mexborough Urban District Council had been formed. There was a new Market Hall built in 1880. St. John the Baptist Church had been refurnished and extended in 1891. A new cemetery had been opened. There was a Cottage Hospital on Bank Street. There were now five schools. The last to be built was on Wath Road in 1890, and the National School now had a house for its schoolmaster. The Vicarage, which was built in 1834 was enlarged in 1877. In 1895 Andrew Montagu, who was then the Lord of the Manor died and his son took over the title, and we now had a new library on Bank Street.
There were now only 2 keel owners, but 7 farmers, 171 shopkeepers and 4 surgeons or doctors. The last three occupations revealing the vast increase in population in the years between the two directories being completed.
James Brown Butler was our first librarian at the Free Library on Bank Street,, Mr. G. H. Chappell was our Town Crier, Miss Berry was Matron of The Montagu Cottage Hospital, Mr. Braiford was a Cigar Manufacturer, Mr. W. Brown was a Coach Builder. Mr. J. Cavil a Quarry Owner. There were two Mineral Water Manufacturers, Mr. W.. Clark and Mr. J. Sopps, Mr. Edwin Cotton & Co. was a Steel Manufacturer, Charles Preston Denison was a Fent Dealer. (Has anyone any idea what this could be?),
Mr. J. Eason, Carriage Builder, Mr. F. Edwards, Mail Cart & Bassinette Dealer, Mr. H. W. Ellard, Professor of Music, Mr. D. Huxley, Glasgow, Artificial Teeth Maker. Ezra Goldsbrough was our Police Sergeant, ML T Mr T Haigh, Waggonette Proprietor, Frank Harrison, cycle manufacturer, Hattersley's Solicitors, Mr. J. Hepworth, Slate Merchant, Mr A Hillerby. Tobacconist, Mr. H. Jenkinson, Mason, Miss Louisa Leach, Girls Day School, Main Street, Mr. J. Mallison, Coal Merchant, Grand Central Railway Goods Yard, Main Street, (I have been told that this yard was nearer to Swinton Road than Main Street and was down near to the railway, close to where MacDonald's now have their garage), Public Telephone Call Office at I Dndsworth Street, Public Benefit Boot Co., Mr. T. Miles was our Station master, Mr. F. Watson was the Police Inspector, Mr. J. Watson was a Brickmaker on Clayfield Road, Mr. J. White had the Don Corn Mill, Mrs. E. E. White was a Bassinette Maker. There were now 3 Cloggers but still two Warfingers (people who ran the sail wharfs) Mr. F. Woffingden and Mr. G. Wright, both living on Church Street, and the town had also acquired 2 photographers.
Of course, because of limited space, I am unable to list everyone who is mentioned in these directories, but don't forget that if you wish to look at them, all you have to do is ask.
The Postal Service
In January one of our members, Mr. J. Raybold, asked me if I could help him date his house on market Street and as he lives next door but one to what I then thought to
be Mexborough's first Post Office, I decided to try and date it through this. It was to this end that I first went to our new library on Hope Street, and then to Doncaster Central Library. Such a thing as our first Post Office must be well documented I thought. How wrong I was! I drew a complete blank at both places. There was absolutely nothing at all on the history of a Postal Service in Mexborough at either of these places. Then it was suggested to me that as Mexborough came under Rotherham for its letters years ago, perhaps Rotherham Central Library could help. At once I struck gold and found everything I needed to know.
I found that up until 60 years ago all mail came to us via Rotherham and the earliest evidence of a Post Office in Rotherham is 1735. But in 1750 there is much documentation of a William Wilson, licensee of the Angel in High Street Rotherham. It was his custom to read the news to his cronies at The Angel each weekend, newspapers at that time being very expensive, being sent by post. It appears that The Angel was a very large establishment where coaches stopped for fresh horses before starting their journey over hilly country.
In 1838 I found that letters were sent to Mexborough by an "Unofficial Post". This being sent to Joseph Nicholson, the innkeeper of The Red Lion, Conisbrough, where they were picked up by Mr Rotherham and delivered to Mexborough. In 1844 letters were sent from Rotherham to Swinton and Rawmarsh, and a messenger delivered them from there. The first postmark with Mexborough on it is dated 1852. Our first Post Office was opened on Hirstgate (could it have been one of the stone built shops at the bottom of Hirstgate?) 29th October 1857 with James Walter Ainley as sub-postmaster. This I guess must have been similar to the village post offices we see today, as from the directory we find that he was also a chemist, drugist and seedman.
In 1878 J. W. Ainley moved his business premises to I Market Street where his daughter helped him.
In 1903 the Post Office moved again. This time to High Street with Mrs. F. I. Holmes as sub-postmistress. (I wonder if this could have been the one I have heard our older members speak of, near to where the Fish Market now stands?).
In 1938 a new Post Office and Telephone Exchange was opened on Main Street and in the same year all mail began to be sent directly to us instead of via Rotherham and our address became officially Mexborough, Yorkshire.
So from all this information, and that I managed to glean from maps, I was able to date Mr. Raybold's house at roughly 1878, and after further researching he was able to date it as 1871 exactly.
If any of you wish to look at notes from a book I found on the History of The Postal Service in The Rotherham Area , you are most welcome.
Well I'd better close now and don't forget if you would like to look at anything I have mentioned in this Newsletter please don't hesitate to ask and if there is anything I can help you with, again don't hesitate to ask.
Your Archivist, Julia Ashby