First Civic Day celebration of Rotherham's heritage is hailed a success

WITH the migration of retail to the internet, Rotherham Council has prioritised leisure and residential spaces in the town centre.

A celebration of the borough’s heritage should form another strong pillar of this regeneration, according to Rotherham District Civic Society.

More than 1,900 community events were held as part of the national Civic Day movement last weekend, with the civic society taking part for the first time.

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Members took over Clifton Park Museum to highlight historical figures and events which have put Rotherham on the global stage.

INTEREST: Attendees at the Rotherham District Civic Society eventINTEREST: Attendees at the Rotherham District Civic Society event
INTEREST: Attendees at the Rotherham District Civic Society event

Under the theme of ‘discovering world class Rotherham’

Exhibition organiser David Wadkin said: “We wanted visitors to be surprised, astonished and curious about the stories we have showcased at this one day event.

“If we are to regenerate our towns, we need to ask: How can we put communities at the heart of our high streets?’

“Creating an interesting story and making our high streets great places to visit again has been one approach taken by the civic society.”

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The day saw guided walks, vintage bus tours and the launch of a new 54-mile civic bike trail devised in partnership with Rotherham Wheelers, one of the county’s oldest cycling clubs.

The walks will continue regularly, while those wishing to stroll at other times can scan QR codes to hear the relevant audio explanations through smartphones. These clips had been heard 874 times in the 24 hours after launch.

Wheelers chairman Tom Knight said the group was keen to be involved in helping to “raise people’s awareness of our wonderful town’s past and present and generate optimism for its future”.

The event at the museum was opened by Chris Hamby, who is the current greave, or chairman, of the Feoffees – Rotherham’s oldest charity. He paid tribute to the civic society’s efforts and said visitors on the day could not fail to be proud to live in the borough.

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Ian McMillan’s specially written poem Rotherham Glowing – celebrating past and present civic achievements – was well received.

The civic society’s goal is to complement the likes of Wentworth Woodhouse, Magna and Gulliver’s Valley by providing tourists with more information on the borough’s heritage.

David said: “Rotherham can build a reputation and become an interesting place to visit. “Some of our visitors heard about the exhibition and events and travelled from Barnsley, Doncaster and Sheffield.

“Those interested in our listed grade I-listed buildings came to learn the location and their history, visitors were astonished that we have above the national average of buildings and the age extends to 1,000 years.

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“The exhibition was over far too quickly with lots more still to offer visitors. We have set the standard and lifted expectations of what Rotherham can showcase.”

Rotherham Flowing

By Ian McMillan

A still morning, a still Rotherham morning.

A steel morning, shining in the sunrise

As the Don flows and the Rother’s flowing

And history flows slowly, always changing.

See the new day through Rotherham eyes

Through Ebenezer Elliott’s crafted rhyming,

Wentworth Woodhouse’s windows, lighting

The sky like a constant and changing surprise,

Clifton Park brimming with birdsong, calling

The fresh shining Rotherham day into being.

If time is a bird, then Rotherham flies

Higher than most, over Parkgate’s vast smelting.

Mason’s clocks ticking, Chrimes’s taps never dripping

Charles Jagger showing memory never dies.

This is a fine town built on making and thinking,

And life is a river that people are crossing

With Bailey the Bridge-builder. Deep thought applies

To the past’s fertile field where Foljambe is ploughing

The future’s broad earth where everything’s working.

The civic space succeeding because everyone tries

To make this a place constructed for living

And living well. Up to you and me, I’m thinking:

To me, to you. Try Rotherham on for size.

And it fits where it touches, fits where it’s flowing.

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