Facts about Rotherham
The Rotherham area had been used for iron production since the Roman occupation of Britain. However, toward the end of the 18th century, coal seams near the town made Rotherham an important settlement in the Industrial Revolution. Coal exports from the town led to infrastructure improvements in the River Don’s navigability, and the river eventually became an artery of the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation system of navigable inland waterways.
During the early Industrial Revolution iron, and later steel, became the principal industry in Rotherham, surviving into the 20th century. The Walker family built an iron empire in the 18th century, their foundries producing high quality cannons, including the majority of guns for the ship HMS Victory, and cast iron bridges, one of which was commissioned by Thomas Paine.
Rotherham was founded in the early Middle Ages. Its name is from Old English hām ‘homestead, estate’, meaning ‘homestead on the Rother’. The river name is of Brittonic origin for ‘main river’, ro- ‘over, chief’ and duβr ‘water’. Another river called the Rother flows through East Sussex.The Anglo-Saxon settlement, with an ecclesiastical parish, was established on a Roman road’s ford over the River Don and the area around it.
The 1086 Domesday Book records a manor previously held by lord Hakon in 1066 tenanted by William the Conqueror’s half-brother, Robert de Mortain. The 1086 record shows an absentee lord who held the most inhabited manor, Nigel Fossard.