Rotherham is one of the largest towns in South Yorkshire. It is part of one of the UK’s largest urban area, which also encompasses Sheffield. Sheffield is only 5 mi away and Meadowhall – the main shopping centre in the area, is located between the two, 2 mi from Rotherham.
Rotherham was built at the confluence of the Rother and Don rivers. Until the 18th century, it remained a rather unsignificant market town. However, it had its own college from 1482 to 1547, thanks to Thomas Rotherham, a native who had become Archbishop of York. In the 19th century, Rotherham experienced a tremedous growth tanks to the industry – the area had plenty of collieries; glassworks and steelworks flourished in the Don valley up to Sheffield. Most of the industry has now vanished however, and Rotherham suffers from many issues.
Locals would perhaps think that ‘visit’ and ‘Rotherham’ form an oxymoron as the town looks quite derelict. The whole place is the archetype of the grim Northern town. Streets in the centre are lined with pound shops and betting shops and the whole atmosphere is pretty grim indeed. However, Rotherham is dotted with nice buildings and monuments, mostly dating from the Victorian period. It is doubltless that were it in a richer region, it would be a nice place for the tourist to wander around.
The most beautiful sight in Rotherham is the Minster, a church that sits atop a mound right in the middle of the town. It dominates gracefully the surrounding streets. Built in the 15th century, the Minster was heavily restored and extended by Sir Gilbert Scott, one of the most prolific Victorian architects.
The riverside is completely neglected but on the river Don there is a chantry bridge – one of the only four to be found in the UK. Yorkshire actually has two chantry bridges – one in Rotherham, and another one in Wakefield. The bridge in Rotherham dates back from the 15th century.
There is a nice street clock near the market hall. It commemorates the coronation of George V.
A bit outside of the town centre, the Clifton Museum is housed in an old mansion at the entrance of a park. It focuses on local history, with exhibits about Prehistory, Antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Victorians, and so on. Free entry, see website.
South of the centre is Boston Park, which is much smaller. It comprises a curious 18th-century hunting lodge, called Boston Castle. It is open on selected days from April to November, see website.
Magna Science Adventure Centre, located outside of the town on the road to Meadowhall, is a science museum dedicated to children. It is set in former steelworks. See website for details.