Warmsworth: The small Yorkshire village transformed by pit opening

Certain events affected villages in the 20th century, changing the way of life which in some instances had existed for centuries. This was the case with Warmsworth situated between Doncaster and Rotherham.

At the outset of the 20th century, the small Warmsworth village was clustered round Warmsworth Hall dating from 1702. Built by John Battie (1663-1724), it replaced an earlier manor house. The area’s other noted buildings at this time included St Peter’s Church, a short distance away to the north east; a Bell Tower at the centre of the village; Warmsworth House, Warmsworth Rectory and a Quaker Friends Meeting House. Workers found employment in agriculture, or lime burning and quarrying at the nearby Levitt Hagg.

An article from June 10, 1910, said that the pretty village of Warmsworth was likely to lose its old-world characteristics in the very near future. A building project was being planned and it was expected that between two and three hundred houses would be built to accommodate an influx of miners at the Yorkshire Main Colliery at Edlington about a mile away. The site of the projected new houses was on the estate of Lady Isabella Battie-Wrightson, near the crossroads on Sheffield Road, Warmsworth. Amongst the new streets built was Wrightson Avenue. The pit opened in 1911.

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A new public house, at Warmsworth was opened on Monday February 13, 1911, replacing the Barrel Inn, dating from at least 1822, situated in the old village. The new establishment was described as an attractive building of red brick, the upper storeys overlaid with stucco. Local builder, Wortley, was responsible for erecting the building costing £3,000 at the junction of four roads to Edlington, Conisbrough, Sprotbrough, and Doncaster. The house was christened the Cecil and Battie-Wrightson Arms, taking the two surnames of land owner Lady Isabella Battie-Wrightson, nee Cecil.

Warmsworth junr school closure with Mrs Green holding key. Peter Tuffrey collectionWarmsworth junr school closure with Mrs Green holding key. Peter Tuffrey collection
Warmsworth junr school closure with Mrs Green holding key. Peter Tuffrey collection

New Co-op stores erected at a cost of £2,000 by the Doncaster Cooperative Society were opened at Warmsworth on July 2, 1913. C.P. Wightman, President of the Society officiated at event and later spoke of the benefits of the Society. The organisation’s Concert Party presented a musical programme to a large appreciative audience.

Electric tram services came to Warmsworth on February 4, 1915, when the Balby route was extended to the village. The tramway extension was largely to serve the Yorkshire Main Colliery. Trams terminated outside the Cecil and Battie-Wrightson Arms until 1919 when a short spur was constructed along Edlington Lane. After that, cars stopped beside the Cooperative Society’s building.

A war memorial, placed at the entrance to the local churchyard, was unveiled on September 17, 1921. It gave tribute to the 15 men from Warmsworth who had been killed in WWI. The work took the form of a square pillar in grey granite on two bases surmounted by a plain Latin cross. It was executed by Tyas & Guest of Swinton, near Rotherham and cost around £150.

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During the 1920s, E. Redfern catered for the rise in the number of motor vehicles by establishing a petrol station and garage at the Sprotbrough Road/Doncaster Road junction.

Warmsworth tram at side of Cecil and Battie Wrightson Hotel. Peter Tuffrey collectionWarmsworth tram at side of Cecil and Battie Wrightson Hotel. Peter Tuffrey collection
Warmsworth tram at side of Cecil and Battie Wrightson Hotel. Peter Tuffrey collection

During July 1935 it was stated Warmsworth’s St Peters’ Church was 700 years old and celebrations were being held to mark the event. At the same time, the Rector said he could not let the anniversary pass without calling attention to the great need for further church accommodation.

Plans for a new school to be erected by the West Riding County Council at Warmsworth were approved in April 1938. The WRCC architect, a Mr Sugden, said it was proposed to erect the school immediately behind the site of the temporary wooden school in Sprotbrough Lane. The classrooms were of the open-air type. The accommodation was for 100 children.

Warmsworth’s new church of St Peter, standing off the main Doncaster/Sheffield Road, but actually in the Borough of Doncaster, was consecrated by the Bishop of Sheffield (the Right Rev. L.S. Hunter) with legal and sacred ceremonies, on March 28, 1942.

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The event was attended by many visiting clergy and by the Doncaster Mayor. Dr Hunter had laid the foundation stone of the new church on November 4, 1939. The architect was Captain C.M. Cooper Brundell & Farran, Doncaster. The old church and site were eventually cleared.

Warmsworth Hall. Peter Tuffrey collectionWarmsworth Hall. Peter Tuffrey collection
Warmsworth Hall. Peter Tuffrey collection

A Parsonage House/Rectory was enlarged and altered by Rev Charles Edward Thomas around 1861. The building was improved on several occasions throughout the 20th century before being converted to flats during the 1970s, then demolished. A new, smaller rectory has been built on an adjacent site.

A derelict stone quarry, was transformed into Warmsworth’s garden park at a cost of around £10,000 in August 1955. The official opening ceremony was performed by Alderman H.J. Bambridge, chairman of the West Riding County Council.

At the ceremony, he said more local authorities ought to become ’flower conscious’ – more aware of the need for beautifying their town and village centres. He added that the quarry, formerly rat infested, was initially offered to the Rural Council in 1950 for use as a tip. The decided however to develop it as a park.

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Post War change precipitated a decline in the rural economy. Coupled with the sale of agricultural land for housing, Warmsworth became a village without a large employer and instead provided houses for people working in other parts of South Yorkshire and beyond.

Warmsworth Over sixties club members in Quaker Meeting House. Peter Tuffrey collectionWarmsworth Over sixties club members in Quaker Meeting House. Peter Tuffrey collection
Warmsworth Over sixties club members in Quaker Meeting House. Peter Tuffrey collection

The opening of the A1, Doncaster-by-pass destroyed some of the buildings on Warmsworth’ perimeter including the White House and a Bothy in the grounds used as a summer house.

On July 31, 1961 crowds saw Minister of Transport, Mr Ernest Marples cut the ribbon at Warmsworth to let traffic roar on to the £6,000,000 new road. He stated it was the largest single project to be undertaken in the Government's plan for turning the Great North Road into a great national highway suited to the needs of modern traffic.

The children and staff of Warmsworth’s Low Road Church of England Infants’ School said goodbye to their old school on Friday August 4, 1978. Head teacher Mrs Audrey Green, who had been there since 1966, locked the door for the last time. She said: ‘In many ways we are sorry to be leaving it. Lots of parents and grandparents of our children came here.’ A new school was provided nearby.

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Warmsworth Hall went through a number of ownership changes during the 20th century. It was sold by Robert Cecil Battie-Wrightson in 1945 as part of his Warmsworth estate. Ernest Roper of Sheffield bought the property for £2,500, but it was subsequently occupied by J.R. Hebditch. During the latter’s tenure, a section of the building on the east side, formerly used as a banqueting hall was demolished due to its poor condition. Between the early 1960s and mid-1990s the Hall, along with a group of newly erected adjoining buildings, formed the site for British Ropes’ new head offices. Later, the Hall formed part of the Moat House group of hotels.

The Quaker Friends Meeting House, built by Thomas Aldam, in 1706, was used by the local over-60s club from 1947. In time, it was converted to a private house.

The Battie-Wrightson pub name was simplified to the Cecil Hotel in 1959 and the premises were demolished for road widening during the 1960s. A new pub was erected on a site set back. Fire severely damaged the bar of the hotel during October 1969. The Cecil reopened after a major revamp in 2000 but closed as a pub eight years later.

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