Rotherham is a town of approximately 250,000 souls situated close to the city of Sheffield
in South Yorkshire
Historically it has been best known for two things; Steel and Flour.
At one time at the height of heavy industry in the mid twentieth century 100,000 people in the town were employed in the steel industry. The crucible method of manufacturing steel was developed close by and so there was considerable expertise in the local area. The close proximity of the town to the rich coal seams of the Dearne Valley provided the fuel to stoke the blast furnace fires. Now however in the early 21st century much of the steel has gone due to the competition of cheaper imports for large volume steel and increasingly engineering quality steels. Automation has also taken its toll. There is a large arc furnace steel plant left run by Corus on the Aldwarke site but it is a shadow of its former self. Most smaller firms are defunct.
The town has a football (soccer) team nicknamed 'The Millers' after another notable industry. There has been a large flour mill in the town for many years. Owned by the Hovis company there are doubts about its future.
Unemployment caused by the decline of traditional heavy industry contributes to a palpable sense of depression and decline in the town. Some rejeneration of the town centre has been attempted in recent years by the redevelopment and imporvement of public transport facilities but the presence of nearby out of town shopping centres has left the shopping hub of the town decimated and populated almost exclusively by the poorer classes. Shops have been turned into pubs and clubs, futher accelerating the exodus of many from the central areas.
The outer suburbs are where many of the middle and aspiring classes dwell. Service industries such as logistics centres and call centres have sprung up in these areas due to the excellent transport links. The M1 and M18 motorways cut through the outer edges of the town in two directions.
Sometimes I think people who live there don't realise what life is like elsewhere. It is the kind of place where kids go away to University and then go back and stay. It seems to magnetically keep those of its own but draw no new blood in.
I just about got away.