Wath upon Dearne

Wath upon Dearne (also known as Wath-on-Dearne or simply Wath /ˈwɒθ/) is a small town on the south side of the Dearne Valley in the historic county of the West Riding of Yorkshire and the Metropolitan Borough of Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England, lying 5 miles (8 km) north of Rotherham, almost midway between Barnsley and Doncaster. It had a population of 11,816 at the 2011 census.[1] It is twinned with Saint-Jean-de-Bournay, in France.[2]

Wath upon Dearne
Wath upon-Dearne Town Centre - geograph.org.uk - 57208

The Market Cross, Montgomery Square, Wath-upon-Dearne
Wath upon Dearne is located in South Yorkshire
Wath upon Dearne
Wath upon Dearne
Location within South Yorkshire
Population11,816 (2011 census)[1]
OS grid referenceSE438008
Metropolitan borough
Metropolitan county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtS63
Dialling code01709
PoliceSouth Yorkshire
FireSouth Yorkshire
EU ParliamentYorkshire and the Humber
UK Parliament


Wath can trace its existence back to Norman times, having an entry in the Domesday Book as Wad. For hundreds of years it remained a quiet rural settlement astride the junction of the old Doncaster–Barnsley and Rotherham–Pontefract roads, the latter a branch of Ryknield Street. North of the town was the ford of the River Dearne by this road that gave the town its name: the origin of its name has been linked to the Latin vadum[3] and the Old Norse vath (ford or wading place).[4] The town received its Royal Charter in 1312–13. entitling it to hold a weekly Tuesday market and an annual two-day fair, but these were soon discontinued. The market was revived in 1814.[5]

Until the mid-19th century the town was home to a racecourse of regional importance, linked to the estate at nearby Wentworth; this later fell into disuse, although traces of the original track can be seen between Wath and Swinton and it is remembered in local street names.[6] There also was a pottery at Newhill, close to deposits of clay, although this was overshadowed by the nearby Rockingham Pottery in Swinton.[3] Around the turn of the 19th century, the poet and newspaper editor James Montgomery, resident in Wath at that time, described it as "the Queen of villages". This rural character was to change rapidly in the 19th and 20th centuries with the development of the deep mining industry.[7]

Coal mining

The town lies within the South Yorkshire Coalfield and high-quality bituminous coal was dug out of outcrops and near-surface seams in primitive bell pits for many hundreds of years. Several high-grade coal seams are close to the surface in this area of South Yorkshire, including the prolific Barnsley and Parkgate seams. The industrial revolution and consequent expansion in demand for coal led to rapid industrialisation of the area in the 19th and early 20th century.[7] The population swelled and the local infrastructure was developed for the coal industry. The over-reliance of the local economy on this single industry stored up problems for the future.

The Dearne and Dove Canal, which was opened in stages from 1798 to 1804 to access the local collieries on the southern side of the Dearne Valley, passed through the town just to the north of the High Street on a large embankment, and then turned north into the valley. This wide section was known locally as the "Bay of Biscay". The canal finally closed in 1961 after many years of disuse and poor repair.[8] Much of the canal line in the town has since been used for new roads, one called Biscay Way.[7]

By the 20th century, heavy industry was evident in the area with many large, busy collieries operating. Wath Main and Manvers Main were the two usually associated with Wath. After the Second World War, the collieries clustered around Manvers were developed into a large colliery complex, including coal preparation, coal products and coking plant, which were not only visible, but also detectable in the air for miles around.


Rail took over from the canal as a means of transporting coal out of the area, and Wath-upon-Dearne became a rail-freight centre of national importance. Wath marshalling yard, built north of the town in 1907, was one of the biggest, and for its time, most modern railway marshalling yards in the country. It was one of the eastern ends of the trans-Pennine Manchester–Sheffield–Wath electrified railway (also known as the Woodhead Line), a project which spanned the Second World War, and was in part justified by the need to transport large amounts of coal mined in the Wath area to customers in North-West England.

Wath once had three railway stations: Wath Central on Moor Road, Wath (Hull and Barnsley) and Wath North both on Station Road, in order of distance from the town centre. This most distant station was the last to close in 1968, under the Beeching Axe. The town no longer has a direct rail link, although there has been talk of opening a station on the Sheffield–Wakefield–Leeds line at Manvers, roughly a mile from the town centre.

The decline of coal

The local coal industry was in the forefront of the dramatic decline of the British coal mining industry, precipitated by a change in government economic policy in the early 1980s. This had severe knock-on effects on many subsidiary local industries and caused much local hardship. The 1985 miners' strike was sparked by the impending closure of Cortonwood Colliery in Brampton Bierlow, a neighbouring village often considered part of Wath. Along with the whole of the Dearne Valley, Wath was classified as an impoverished area and received much public money, including European funds. These were put into regenerating the area from the mid-1990s onwards causing a certain amount of economic revival, and changing the character of the area to be more rural, as large areas of ex-industrial land to the north of the town, once used by collieries and marshalling yards, were turned back into scrubland and countryside, dotted with light industrial and commercial office parks. This regeneration of what was still classified as brownfield land has involved building it over with various industrial and commercial parks, and large housing developments have also been started.


Blue Murder live at Montgomery Hall, Wath-upon-Dearne, Sunday 1st November 1987
Blue Murder live at Montgomery Hall, Wath-upon-Dearne, Sunday 1 November 1987 (left to right: Heather Brady, Lal Waterson, Rachel Waterson, Norma Waterson, Martin Carthy, Mike Waterson, Dave Brady, Jim Boyes)

Wath upon Dearne is centred on Montgomery Square, where the town's main shops, library and bus station are located. Immediately to the west is the substantial Norman All Saints Church,[9] on a small leafy green with the Town Hall, the Montgomery Hall and a campus of the Dearne Valley College. There are several busy high-street pubs in the town centre, including a branch of Wetherspoons and Wath Tap, Rotherham's first micro-pub.

Today Wath is still emerging from the hardship caused by the sudden collapse of the coal industry, although jobs and a measure of low-level affluence have returned. After a hiatus between the clearing of the former colliery land and the recent redevelopment, when the area felt rather rural, the construction of large distribution centres to the north of the town is once again bringing an industrial feel, although without the pollution issues that were connected with coal. Recently several very large distribution warehouses for the clothing chain Next have opened. A significant amount of new housing is also being built on this reclaimed land.

Wath Festival, held around the early May bank holiday, is a folk and acoustic music and arts festival. It was founded by members of the Wath Morris Dancing Team in 1972 and has grown to host some well-known names in the folk, acoustic and world music scene. Whilst festival events occur across the town, the majority of the larger music concerts are held at the Montgomery Hall Theatre and Community Venue. Artists recently appearing include Dougie MacLean, Fairport Convention, Martin Simpson, John Tams, Frances Black, John McCusker, Stacey Earle and Eddi Reader.

The festival celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2012 and won Village Festival Of The Year in the 2013 FATEA Awards.[10] The festival has been a big supporter of young upcoming artists such as Gilmore & Roberts, Lucy Ward, Charlie Barker, Harriet Bartlett and Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar as well as hosting the Wath Festival Young Performers Award, founded by young, Sheffield-based musician Charlie Barker in 2011, who later handed on organisational duties of the competition to the festival committee 2014. Winners of the Young Performers Award include Luke Hirst & Sarah Smout, Sunjay, Rose Redd and Hannah Cumming.

It is also a community festival with traditional dancing from local Morris and Sword Dancing groups, street performances, workshops, children's events, and the famous Saturday morning parade from the Montgomery Hall, through Montgomery Square and back to St. James' Church for the traditional throwing of bread buns from the parish church tower.

Local schools, organisations and local Labour MP John Healey are very active in celebrating the town's history and contributing to the community activities at the festival and it has proved to be a well-attended annual event.

The RSPB's Old Moor nature reserve lies a mile to the north-west of the town;[11] it is a flash, where mining-induced subsidence of the land close to a river has created wetlands.


Wath Athletic F.C. served the community from the 1880s to the Second World War, playing in the Midland League and reaching the 1st Round of the FA Cup in 1926. No senior team has represented the settlement since the 1950s, and Wath remains one of the largest areas in Yorkshire without a senior football team. However, it has a Rugby Union team, which plays in the Yorkshire Division 2.


There are four primary schools in Wath upon Dearne, all serving ages 3–11: Our Lady and St Joseph's Catholic Primary School, Wath Central Primary School, Wath C of E Primary School, and Wath Victoria Primary School.

The town has two secondary schools: Saint Pius X Catholic High School (an 11–16 school) and the much larger Wath Academy, which has a sixth form and so provides 11–18 education. Both these take students from a wider area than just the town of Wath. Wath (Park Road) Secondary Modern School closed in 1963.

A large further education college, Dearne Valley College, is based in Wath, with a main campus at Manvers and a smaller one near the town centre.

Notable people


  1. ^ a b UK Census (2011). "Local Area Report – Wath Ward (as of 2011) (1237320697)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  2. ^ UK Twin Towns Archived 24 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b Martin, W. Keble, A history of the Ancient Parish of Wath-upon-Dearne (South Yorkshire), (W. E. Farthing) 1920
  4. ^ Moorman, F. W., West Riding Place Names (Leeds: privately printed for the Thoresby Society), 1910.
  5. ^ Hey, David, Medieval South Yorkshire (Ashbourne:Landmark Publishing) 2003 ISBN 978-1-84306-080-2
  6. ^ geograph.org.uk page on Racecourse Road on the Wath/Swinton border, built on the line of the course.
  7. ^ a b c d "Wath-upon-Dearne the 'Queen of villages'".
  8. ^ Glister, Roger, The Forgotten Canals of Yorkshire: Wakefield to Swinton via Barnsley; The Barnsley and Dearne & Dove Canals (Barnsley:Wharncliffe Books) 2004 ISBN 1-903425-38-7
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ "FATEA – Fatea Awards Nominations 2013". www.fatea-records.co.uk. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  11. ^ RSPB Old Moor
  12. ^ "The sick killer who lived up to his Ripper boasts". The Yorkshire Post. 18 June 2002. Retrieved 14 April 2018.

External links

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Dearne Valley College

Dearne Valley College is a further education college situated in the Manvers Park area of Wath-upon-Dearne, in the Metropolitan Borough of Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England. It also has a campus near Wath-upon-Dearne town centre.

In September 2017 the college merged with the RNN Group. The college joined Rotherham College and North Nottinghamshire College as part of the group, but continues to retain its local identity and current campus based in Manvers.

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Manvers is a suburb of Wath upon Dearne in the Metropolitan Borough of Rotherham in South Yorkshire, England. It lies across the border with the Metropolitan Borough of Doncaster, whilst Mexborough is part of Doncaster. It is situated between Mexborough and Wath upon Dearne, not far from Swinton.

It is served by Stagecoach Yorkshire, the main route being 220 (Cortonwood/Doncaster Frenchgate), as well as First South Yorkshire and Yorkshire Tiger.

Manvers Main Colliery

Manvers Main Colliery was a coal mine, sunk on land belonging to the Earl Manvers on the northern edge of Wath-upon-Dearne, between that town and Mexborough in the Dearne Valley, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England. The regional headquarters and laboratories of British Coal were situated in the complex.

Manvers was a complex comprising the original sinkings known as "Old Manvers", later sinkings known as "New Manvers" and a coke and by-products plant. The first shaft was sunk in the late-19th century followed by the second shaft, sunk between 1900 and 1901, and later a third shaft was sunk.

The Manvers Main Colliery Company was responsible, in 1911, for sinking two shafts at Barnburgh, a village about two miles north east. The collieries were connected by a private railway.

Between 1920 and 1934, the manager of the coke-oven, washery and brickworks departments at Manvers Main was Cornelius Finn, who during this period (1923–24) was also president of the Coke Oven Managers Association.On 4 March 1945, an accident caused the death of five underground workers. The cause was an explosion of firedamp ignited by sparks from a damaged trailing cable.

Immediately before nationalisation, Manvers was owned by Manvers Main Collieries Ltd. The coke ovens and coal by-products plant were closed in 1981. With rationalisation in the South Yorkshire coalfield, from 1950 to 1956, Manvers became the centre of coal output from the collieries known as the South Manvers complex that were linked below ground. They were Wath Main, Barnburgh Colliery and Kilnhurst. Each colliery retained its individual identity but the coal was wound to the surface at Manvers; this was done to protect the loyalties and friendships of the local pitworkers at each mine. The colliery complex was closed on 25 March 1988.

Metropolitan Borough of Rotherham

The Metropolitan Borough of Rotherham is a metropolitan borough of South Yorkshire, England. It is named after its largest town, Rotherham, but also spans the outlying towns of Maltby, Rawmarsh, Swinton, Wath-upon-Dearne, and also Dinnington and Laughton

as well as a suburban and rural element composed of hills, escarpments and broad valleys.

The district was formed on 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, as a merger of the County Borough of Rotherham, with Maltby, Rawmarsh, Swinton and Wath-upon-Dearne urban districts along with Rotherham Rural District and Kiveton Park Rural District.

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council is one of the safest Labour councils in the United Kingdom, although the number of Labour council seats dropped from 92% to 79% in 2014 following the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal.

National Occupational Standards

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NOS, which are approved by UK government regulators, are available for almost every role in every sector in the UK. For example, there are NOS for:

workers in hospitality, leisure, travel & tourism

care workers

sports coaches

museum staff

probation officers

those working in environmental conservation

those working in business and administration.All approved National Occupational Standards are available for downloading free of charge from the NOS Directory.

Peter Hardy, Baron Hardy of Wath

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Wath (Hull and Barnsley) railway station

Wath railway station was one of three railway stations in Wath-upon-Dearne, South Yorkshire, England. It was the southern terminus of The Hull & South Yorkshire Extension Railway which became part of the Hull and Barnsley Railway in 1898 and was the southern terminus of a branch line from Wrangbrook Junction. The station was located on Station Road between the Great Central Railway's Wath Central station and the Midland Railway's Wath North station. Branch line trains connected with Sheffield-Cudworth-Hull trains at Wrangbrook.

The railway was opened for passengers on 28 August 1902, with Wath being 8 miles (13 km) from Wrangbrook Junction and 11 miles (18 km) from Kirk Smeaton, where the passeneger service went to. However, the line was not a success for passenger traffic: it was closed to passengers on 6 April 1929. The station at Wath was a single platform affair but with a substantial station house. This and the former ticket office are the only surviving remains of the station and have survived the buildings of Wath's other two, more successful stations: they still stand on Station Road, called "Station House" and "Barnsley Cottage" respectively.

Wath Academy

Wath Academy is a mixed comprehensive secondary school on Sandygate in Wath-upon-Dearne in the Metropolitan Borough of Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England.

Wath Athletic F.C.

Wath Athletic F.C. was an English football club based in Wath-upon-Dearne, South Yorkshire.

Wath Central railway station

Wath Central railway station was on the South Yorkshire Railway's Doncaster - Barnsley Exchange line in England. It was the closest of Wath-upon-Dearne's three railway stations to the town centre, lying immediately to its north-east, over the Dearne and Dove Canal bridge. The station was closed when local passenger services on the line ended on 29 June 1959. (The line continued to be used for freight traffic until 1988).

The buildings were in the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway's large "Double Pavilion" style, an indication that rebuilding had taken place in the last quarter of the 19th century. The main building, with four bays, was on the Doncaster-bound platform.The station buildings were not demolished until the area was cleared during road improvement works in 2004.

South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive has a long term aim to re-open this line, which would probably involve providing a new station in Wath. However the Executive does not have any funding for this, and the radical clearance of the old alignment of the railway for re-development since the mid-1990s would make this costly and the actual alignment of any new railway difficult to speculate on.

Wath Main Colliery

Wath Main Colliery was a coal mine situated in the Dearne Valley, close by the township of Wath-upon-Dearne, South Yorkshire, England. The colliery was operated by the Wath Main Coal Company Limited.

Sinking of the first of its two shafts began in 1873, the workings reaching the highly prized Barnsley seam three years later. To gain access to lower reserves the shafts were deepened, first in 1912 to reach the Parkgate seam and then, in 1923, to the Silkstone seam.

The colliery became part of the National Coal Board on nationalization in 1947 and it was amalgamated, along with other local collieries, with the adjacent Manvers Main Colliery on 1 January 1986. Closure came on 25 March 1988.

The site has been reclaimed and now contains Wath Country Park, which in May 2007 was sold off to developers to form a new housing development. The park lasted just 10 years.

Wath North railway station

Wath North railway station was on the Midland Railway's Sheffield - Cudworth - Normanton - Leeds main line, serving the town of Wath-upon-Dearne, South Yorkshire, England. The town had three railway stations, of which Wath North was the furthest from the town centre; it was three-quarters of a mile to the north, in an area of heavy industry away from residential areas, on the road to Bolton-on-Dearne.

It was built by the North Midland Railway in 1841, the year after the railway opened, and was called Wath and Bolton. It was a victim of the Beeching axe, closing on 1 January 1968 when the local Sheffield-Cudworth-Leeds passenger trains were withdrawn. Express passenger and freight trains continued to pass through the station until 1986 when the line was closed due to severe subsidence; few remains of the station were present at that time.

Wath TMD

Wath TMD was a Traction Maintenance Depot located in Wath-upon-Dearne, South Yorkshire, England. The depot was located near Wath station.

The depot code is WH.

Wath marshalling yard

Wath marshalling yard, also known as Wath concentration yard, was a large railway marshalling yard specifically designed for the concentration of coal traffic. It was set at the heart of the South Yorkshire Coalfield, at Wath-upon-Dearne, approximately halfway between Barnsley and Doncaster, in the United Kingdom. It opened in 1907 and closed in 1988.

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Metropolitan districts
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