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Wath upon Dearne
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
UK Parliament
List of places
53°30′08″N 1°20′25″W / 53.5022°N 1.3402°W / 53.5022; -1.3402

Wath upon Dearne (shortened to Wath /ˈwɒθ/ or often hyphenated) is a town south of the River Dearne in the Metropolitan Borough of Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England, 5 miles (8 km) north of Rotherham and 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 can be traced to Norman times. It appears in the 1086 Domesday Book as Wad and Waith. It remained for some centuries a 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 a ford across the River Dearne. The name has been linked to the Latin vadum[3] and the Old Norse vath (ford or wading place).[4] The town received a royal charter in 1312–1313 entitling it to a weekly Tuesday market and an annual two-day fair, but these were soon discontinued. The market was revived in 1814.[5]

Until local government reorganisation in 1974, Wath was in the historic county of the West Riding of Yorkshire. Until the mid-19th century the town had a racecourse of regional importance, linked to the estate at nearby Wentworth. This fell into disuse, but traces of it can be seen between Wath and Swinton and it is remembered in street names.[6] There was a pottery at Newhill, close to deposits of clay, but it was overshadowed by the nearby Rockingham Pottery in Swinton.[3] About the turn of the 19th century, the poet and newspaper editor James Montgomery, resident at the time, called it "the Queen of Villages". This rural character changed rapidly in the 19th and 20th centuries, as coal mining developed.[7]

Coal mining

The town lies over the South Yorkshire coalfield, where high-quality bituminous coal was dug from outcrops and near-surface seams in primitive bell pits for several centuries. Several high-grade seams are close to the surface, including the prolific Barnsley and Parkgate. The rising demand for coal arose from rapid local industrialisation in the 19th and early 20th century.[7] The population swelled and local infrastructure developed round the coal-mining, but this reliance on one industry led to future problems.

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

By the 20th century, heavy industry was evident, with many large collieries – Wath Main and Manvers Main were the two usually mentioned. After the Second World War, the collieries clustered around Manvers developed into a complex, also covering coal preparation, coal products and a coking plant, which was not only visible, but polluted the air for miles around.


Rail took over coal transportation from the canal. 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 one of the most modern railway marshalling yards in the country, as one of the eastern ends of the trans-Pennine Manchester–Sheffield–Wath electrified railway (also known as the Woodhead Line), a project that spanned the Second World War and partly responded to the need to move large amounts of Wath coal to customers in North-West England.

Wath once had three railway stations: Wath Central in Moor Road, Wath (Hull and Barnsley) and Wath North both in Station Road. Wath North, the most distant, was the last to close in 1968, under the Beeching Axe. 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 succumbed to a dramatic decline in the British coal-mining industry precipitated by a change in government economic policy in the early 1980s. This had knock-on effects on many subsidiary local industries and caused local hardship.

The 1985 miners' strike was sparked by the impending closure of Cortonwood Colliery in Brampton Bierlow, a neighbouring village often seen as part of Wath. Along with the whole of the Dearne Valley, Wath was classified as an impoverished area and received public money, including European funds. These were put to regenerating the area from the mid-1990s onwards, causing a degree of economic revival. It made the area more rural, as much land to the north of the town once used by collieries and marshalling yards was returned to 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 industrial and commercial parks. Large housing developments have also been started.


Wath Hall
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 centres on Montgomery Square, with the town's main shops, the library and the bus station. To its west is the substantial Norman All Saints Church,[9] on a small leafy green, with Wath Hall, the Montgomery Hall and a campus of the Dearne Valley College. The several town-centre pubs include a branch of Wetherspoons and Wath Tap, Rotherham's first micro-pub specialising in locally brewed real ale. From 1892 to 1974 Wath Hall served as the local seat of government for Wath upon Dearne.[10]

Today Wath is still emerging from the coal-industry collapse, although jobs and some low-level affluence have returned. After a hiatus between the clearing of former colliery land and recent redevelopment, when the area felt rather rural, the construction of large distribution centres to the north of the town is restoring an industrial feel, but without the pollution issues of coal. Several distribution warehouses for the clothing chain Next have opened. Much new housing is being built on reclaimed land.

Wath Festival, held round the early May bank holiday, is a folk and acoustic music and arts festival founded by members of the Wath Morris Dancing Team in 1972. It has grown to host known names on the folk, acoustic and world music scene. While festival events occur across the town, most larger concerts are held at the Montgomery Hall Theatre and Community Venue. Those appearing have included Dougie MacLean, Fairport Convention, Martin Simpson, John Tams, Frances Black, John McCusker, Stacey Earle and Eddi Reader.

The festival marked its 40th anniversary in 2012. Wath won Village Festival Of The Year in the 2013 FATEA Awards.[11] The festival has been a supporter of young artists such as Lucy Ward, and Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar. It has also hosted the Wath Festival Young Performers' Award, founded by the Sheffield-based musician Charlie Barker in 2011, who handed it over to a festival committee in 2014. Winners have included Luke Hirst & Sarah Smout, Sunjay, Rose Redd and Hannah Cumming.

The event includes dancing by local morris and sword-dancing groups, street performances, workshops, children's events and a Saturday morning parade from Montgomery Hall through Montgomery Square and back to St James's Church, for a traditional throwing of bread buns from the parish church tower. Local schools, organisations and local Labour MP John Healey have joined in festival activities.

The RSPB's Old Moor nature reserve lies a mile to the north-west of the town.[12] It occupies a "flash", where mining-induced subsidence of 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 places in Yorkshire without one. However, it has a Rugby Union team that plays in the Yorkshire Division 2.


The four primary schools for ages 3–11 are Our Lady and St Joseph's Catholic Primary, Wath Central Primary, Wath C of E Primary and Wath Victoria Primary. The two secondary schools are Saint Pius X Catholic High School (for ages 11–16 ) and the larger Wath Academy, which has a sixth form and covers 11–18-year-olds. Both take students from a wider area. Wath (Park Road) Secondary Modern School closed in 1963.

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


Local news and television programmes is provided by BBC Yorkshire and ITV Yorkshire. Television signals are received from the Emley Moor TV transmitter.[13] Local radio stations are BBC Radio Sheffield, Greatest Hits Radio Yorkshire (formerly Dearne FM), Heart Yorkshire, Capital Yorkshire, Hallam FM and Rockingham Radio, a community based station which broadcast from the town. [14] The town is served by the local newspaper, Rotherham Advertiser. [15]


Wath-upon-Dearne bus station
General information
LocationMontgomery Road, Wath-upon-Dearne town centre
Rotherham (S63 7RA)
Owned byRotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
Operated byTravel South Yorkshire
Bus stands4
Bus operatorsFirst South Yorkshire, Stagecoach Yorkshire
Bicycle facilitiesYes

Wath-upon-Dearne bus station in Montgomery Road in the town centre provides the main public-transport hub. It has four bus stands on an otherwise pedestrianised section of Montgomery Road, next to Montgomery Square, High Street and the Wath-upon-Dearne Community Library. The bus station's one-way system down Montgomery Road is accessed from the B6097 Biscay Way to the north and feeds buses out into Church Street to the south.

The land is owned by the local council, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, not the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive. As such, it is not listed as an official SYPTE Interchange, despite its relative size, and it lacks a ticket office, waiting room and toilet facilities.


As of January 2021, the stand allocation is:

Stand Route Destination
WS1 22X Barnsley National Rail Bus interchange     
226 Barnsley National Rail Bus interchange     
WS2 220 Cortonwood     
WS3 220 Mexborough Bus interchange     
226 Thurnscoe National Rail     
WS4 22a, 22c Rotherham National Rail Sheffield Supertram Bus interchange (circular)     
22X Rotherham National Rail Sheffield Supertram Bus interchange     
72, 72a Chapeltown National Rail     

Notable people

See also


  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 W. Keble Martin, A History of the Ancient Parish of Wath-upon-Dearne (South Yorkshire), W. E. Farthing, 1920.
  4. ^ F. W. Moorman, West Riding Place Names (Leeds: privately printed for Thoresby Society), 1910.
  5. ^ David Hey, Medieval South Yorkshire (Ashbourne:Landmark Publishing) 2003 ISBN 978-1-84306-080-2
  6. ^ 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'". Retrieved 20 September 2009.
  8. ^ Roger Glister, 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. ^ "All Saints Parish Church, Wath upon Dearne". Retrieved 10 March 2020.
  10. ^ "Wath Hall: bought by the people, for the people". Around Town. 1 September 2020. Retrieved 9 April 2021.
  11. ^ "FATEA – Fatea Awards Nominations 2013". Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  12. ^ RSPB Old Moor
  13. ^ "Emley Moor (Kirklees, England) Full Freeview transmitter". UK Free TV. 1 May 2004. Retrieved 4 December 2023.
  14. ^ "Rockingham Radio". Retrieved 4 December 2023.
  15. ^ "Rotherham Advertiser". British Papers. 15 October 2013. Retrieved 4 December 2023.
  16. ^ "The sick killer who lived up to his Ripper boasts". The Yorkshire Post. 18 June 2002. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  17. ^ Kirk, Nigel (8 June 2019). "Wedgwood 'Fairyland Lustre' pottery found in inconspicuous apartment is worth thousands". Nottinghamshire Live. Retrieved 8 October 2020.