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       Mexborough and District worthies  by Derek Allport

Artist Derek Allport has created the caricatures below, as part of his continuing mission to record Mexborough and district worthies for posterity.
Derek's work on The Cut can be found here, meanwhile check back here from time to time to see who Derek's latest subjects are...

Derek's new collection, on Mexborough characters,
can be found here

Derek's Stalworts is here

Derek has also completed a project, to capture the greats who once trod the boards of Mexborough Hippodrome.
The caricatures can be found
on this page, here...

And he has just completed a collection of people connected with the Rockingham Theatre.
On this page, here...

A recent venture was to capture the spirit of The Jesters, and you can see the finished product
On this page, here...


The collection so far:

Albert E Fox
Amy Lee Oliver
Andy Pickering
Arthur Morris
Barbara Morris
Ben Bailey
Blasher Ward
Bob Haigh
Brian Hillerby
Brian Kelly
Buffalo Bill-a-like
Cadeby Heroes
Caroline Flint
Charlie Shaw
Cocky & Geoff
Dan Clarke
David Caddick
David Holland
Def Leppard
Dennis Priestley
Dick Ridyard


Dobson & Popple
Doctor S P Bhatia
Donald Pleasence
Donald Watson
Eds Milliband & Balls
Ellis P Robinson
Eric Atkin
F.W. Hulme
George Oliver
Giles Brearley
Graham Oliver
Harold W Massingham
Harry Crosley
Harry Wingate
Hartley Barron
Herbert Smith
Hugh Walters
Ian Parks
Iron Hague
Jack Barker
Jack Harry White
Jeff Wademan

John Doyle
John Fisher
John Reed
Joseph Barron
Justin Scott
Keith Barron & Kenneth Haigh
Ken Wyatt
Len Davison
Max Wall
Michael Fowler
Mike Hawthorne
Nobby Guest
Norman Watson
Paul Shane
Peter Davies
Rainbow Bazaar
Robert Glassby
Roger Livesey
Rosie WInterton
Sam Scherdel
Sandy Powell



Stone heads
Stuart Sansome
Syd Hacking
Ted Hughes
The Axon Family
Thomas Scholey
Tom Dennet
Tony Greathead
Tom Hill
Tommy Joyce
Tony Christie
Tony Tarver
Trevor and Jenny Haigh
Verdy Popple
Walter Midgley
Walter Turner
Wendy Watson
Wild West escapades
William Glasby
William Hackett VC
William Hague


In 1840 Thomas Livesey threw up his job as an engineer and bought a portable theatre. With his wife Mary and children the family toured around the mining towns of South Yorkshire with their centrally heated theatre. They staged numerous productions over the years. Thomas and Mary eventually settled down in Mexborough and built the Hippodrome Theatre
Their great grandson Roger was born in 1906. His early stage career was in the West End, leading eventually to a highly successful film career with the Korda Company at Denham studios. Films such as 'The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp' 'I Know Where I'm Going1 and 'A Matter of Life and Death' guarantee his immortality.

Mike Hawthorn was born in Mexborough in 1929. He was the son of a motor engineer who himself had racing experience both as a driver and mechanic. Mike took up motoring as soon as he was old enough. Following his debut he began winning trophies. His formula 1 debut was at the 1952 Belgian Grand Prix finishing in fourth place. He won his first Grand Prix at the ninth attempt at the 1953 French Grand Prix. More success followed with the Belgian 24hr Sports Car Race, the Spanish Grand Prix in Benidorm, the Sebring 12hr Race, the Le Mans Race, the Argentine Grand Prix etc etc. He retired from racing in 1959, the year in which he died in a car accident on the Guildford bypass.


Graham Oliver


From Heavy Metal to Clay.
In Rotherham Museum you will find The Rockingham Pottery Rhinoceros Vase. It was fired all in one piece and was made to demonstrate the skills of the manufacturers. Graham Oliver's obsession with local pottery has resulted in his amazing metamorphosis into a Grahamoceros Vase. Graham is also in one piece and is on show in the museum's 'Rocking em' collection.
Guitarist and founder member, in the mid 1970s of Saxon. He is an internationally known rock musician who has toured the world with Saxon. Graham has also achieved the accolade of a biographical listing in Hugh Gregory's '1000 Great Guitarists' book. Saxon continue to perform at numerous festivals throughout Europe. In 2011 they Released their 19th album which reached number six in the UK Rock Albums Chart. Graham's achievements are too vast to list here - he is certainly set to be remembered!

Def Leppard

  Def Leppard line up left to right: Joe Elliott (lead vocals) Rick Allen (drums) Vivien Campbell (guitar, backing vocals ) Rick Savage (bass, backing vocals) and Phil Collen (guitar, backing vocals). Joe Elliott and Rick Savage grew up in Mexborough. Rick and Pete Willis (an early member of the line-up ) started the band in 1977. Joe Elliott came up with the name Deaf Leopard and Rick changed the spelling. Leppard have sold a 100 million records worldwide and have been awarded two prestigious Diamond Awards. To their credit, Def Leppard continue to be one of the most important forces in rock music. For the past 30+ years the band's concerts have become must see events as they continue to sell out arenas worldwide.  

Dennis Priestley
Dennis (the Menace) Priestley seeks world darts domination. His giant missile dart will not only hit the target, it will also completely obliterate the darts board and the pub. If you have a pub in Mexborough make sure that you bar him from playing darts. Joking aside, there is not nearly enough space here to even begin to list Dennis's achievements in the world of professional darts. He has won two world championships and was the first player to win both the BDO and WDC world championships in 1991 and 1994. Dennis did not enter the the professional darts world until he was almost 40 yrs of age. His success establishes him as one of the greatest dart players of all time. A Mexborough Megastar!

Richard Dalton Ridyard
Richard (Dick) Ridyard was a journalist for 48 yrs and a respected community stalwart. He had been chief reporter and sports editor of the 'South Yorkshire Times' before becoming editor in 1968. He was known to close friends as 'Dick' or 'RDR'. He also wrote for numerous magazines and went on to publish 4 crime novels. Richard was a fine journalist and a master of his craft who trained many other journalists. He died in 2003 at the age of 88 .

Walter Turner
Walter Turner founder of The Mexborough and Swinton Times, later to be called The South Yorkshire Times


Donald Watson
1910 - 2005

Donald Watson was a remarkable man who led a long and worthwhile 95 years of life.
Born in Mexborough, he was founder of the Vegan Society and creator of the term 'Vegan'.
His journey to vegetarianism began when he was very young at the animal farm of his Uncle George. The experience of seeing animals slaughtered changed his life and at 14 years of age he became a vegetarian. He felt that animals were exploited like slaves.
The first three letters of the word 'Vegetarian' combined with the last two letters form the word 'Vegan'. In addition to not eating meat, Vegans don't eat dairy products such as eggs, milk and cheese etc.

Buffalo Bill...or bull?
'Klondyke Nuggets' was a cowboy and indians play performed by a troupe of wild west entertainers at Mexborough Hippodrome in Nov 1902.
In the afternoon before the performance all of the players rode their horses through the town and staged a cowboys and indians battle on some waste land nearby.
Many people thought that the star of the show was William Cody - better known as Buffalo Bill, but the evidence suggests this was not so.
The star of this show was Samuel Franklyn Cody, previously called Samuel Cowdery.
He changed his name possibly because he admired Buffalo Bill who had a massive following. Being mistaken for Bill or thought to be a relative was good for business.
Cowdery was an early American pioneer of manned flight, most famous for his work on Cody War Kites that were used in World War 1 for artillery spotting.
He was also the first man to conduct a powered flight in Britain on 16 Oct 1908.
He was a flamboyant showman who had his own wild west show and he was a crack shot. It suited his purposes to let people think that he was Buffalo Bill, although it has to be said that he was an impressive character in his own right who achieved a great deal.
The two caricatures are very accurate likenesses. Buffalo Bill is on the left

Walter (Cocky) Bennett 1874-1908
Walter (Cocky) Bennett 1874-1908 He first played for his home town of Mexbotough before being spoiled and signed for the Blades in 1896 for a fee of 10. He played as a forward for Sheffield United and also made two appearances for England in 1901. He also won two FA Cup Winners Medals in 1899 and 1902. He had a spell at Bristol City before retiring from full time football. Cocky finally played for the amateur team of Denaby Main where he took a job as a miner, and was killed following a roof fall at the colliery. He left a wife and four children.
Geoff Salmons
Born in 1948 in Mexborough, he made his debut at Sheffield United in Sept 196? and played 31 times in 1970-71 helping the Blades to gain promotion to the first Division. He made 204 appearances for the Bramall Lane team before moving to Stoke City for a fee of 160.000. He later played for Leicester City, Chesterfield and Gainsborough. Geoff retired from football in 1981 and went on to run his own pub in his native Mexborough. and football goes on...

Paul Shane
1940 - 2013

Paul Shane was born in Thrybergh in 1940. He was a miner at Silverwood Colliery but was pensioned off at 27 due to an accident. During his time as a miner he was 'cutting his teeth' as a comedian in the clubs throughout South Yorkshire. He turned professional in 1974 and success followed. His television sitcom successes included Hi-di-Hi, You Rang M'Lord, Oh Mr Beeching and Very Big Very Soon. He also appeared in Emmerdale, Holby City And Coronation Street, He will be sadly missed.

LEFT - Norman Walker Watson
Norman Walker Watson was Mexborough born and earlier in his career taught History and Music at Adwick Road School, eventually becoming Deputy Head teacher. His teaching career lasted 30 years. Most of all Norman was an outdoor man, fondly remembered by his old pupils for his many excursions into Derbyshire. He was very active in the community - a founder member of the Mexborough Heritage Society, Secretary of the local Bible Society, an eminent local historian and an inveterate walker and cyclist. He turned vegetarian in 1926 and was a lifelong non- smoker and total abstainer. Norman died aged 94 and is remembered as a highly valued member of the community who was a totally positive force.

  John Reed                                                                                                         Max Wall

The Empire Cinema in Mexborough was once a venue tor live performances as welt as film. It was used by South Yorkshire Musical Comedy Society for such musicals as 'Desert Song' and 'Quaker Girl'. In the mid 1950's I was taken by my father to a Sunday performance. The film, which I have long since forgotten was followed by a live solo show which starred Max Wall. I have often wondered if such live shows were a regular feature in the 1950's. It was a great night out.








Sandy Powell
Having worked in Rotherham for most of my life I am using some artistic license to include Sandy Powell who was once the town's most famous son. This drawing shows his logo which was ahead of its time in terms of its instantly recognisable designer depiction likeness. It appeared on Sandy's posters in the 1930's and 40's with the words 'He is coming' and of course everyone knew who it was. It echoes the high quality graphics of the 'Public Announcement' posters of the War years

Harold W. Massingham 1932-2011
Harold was the son of H. W. Massingham (a collier from Mexborough). He attended the same Mexborough Grammar School as the Yorkshire poet and Poet Laureate Ted Hughes but in a class two years below. He lived in Mexborough and published three volumes of poetry in 1965,1972 and 1992. His work was published in the New Yorker and Alhambra Poetry Calendar. He won the 1968 Cholmondeley Award for Poets and over the years was involved with many publications. Under the pseudonym 'Mass', he set crosswords for national newspapers and magazines for more than 30 years and was known as the crossword king. Harold taught at the University of Manchester, students included Steven Waling and Trevor Griffiths.

Ian Parks
Described by Chiron Review as 'the finest love poet of his generation' Ian was born in 1959 in Mexborough. The son of a miner, Ian grew up during the declining years of the coal industry. This had a profound effect on his later work. His first collection of poems 'Gargoyles in Winter' was published in 1986. Since then there have been numerous publications, awards and creative writing posts in the Universities of Sheffield, Hull, Oxford and Leeds, lan's poems have appeared in The Observer, The Liberal, The Independent etc etc. He says 'I never started out to be a love poet, it just happened, appearing out of the blue and prompted by circumstances. They called me and I responded.'


Hartley Barron

Joseph Barron

Peter Davies

Peter - the prolific Party-goer. the prince of pick-n-mix.

William J J Glasby

Verdy Popple founded the Green Room Club In 1925, and both produced and appeared in their plays for the next thirty years.
In his lifetime he achieved local legendary status as an actor. He was said to be a master of disguise and audiences flocked to Green Room productions to
marvel at his performances.
I visited Verdy in 1972 when he was in his late seventies. My intention was to caricature him for the Cut magazine. I somehow couldn't achieve a likeness. On a book shelf was a photograph of him In his younger years.
His wife suggested that I should work from the photograph because that would be how people would remember him. This I did and a good caricature was achieved.
On an opposite wall was another photograph of Verdy as Shylock in 'The Merchant of Venice'. This was one of his major achievements as an actor. My drawing  is based on my memory of the photograph I saw that day.
It is highly likely that the likes of Kenneth Haigh, Keith Barron and Brian Blessed all saw Verdy perform. They most certainly would have been familiar
with Harry Dobson's productions.
Verdy and Harry were two people who inspired others to pursue their love of drama.

Nobby Guest 1820 -1908
Every town and village has its characters and William 'Nobby'Guest, was one of Conisbrough's. He was even the subject of several postcards. Later in his life he had a small haulage business and he became the first driver for the Home Coal Carting Co. He was the father of 10 children and lived at Ferry Farm near Burcroft. The terrible distortion to his nose is a mild form of von Recklinghausen's disease.
From 'Photograph's of Old Conisbrough' by June and Tony Greathead.

Brian Kelly
Brian Kelly was editor of the South Yorkshire Times from 1979 to 1996. He was brought up in West Melton and joined the paper in 1952, completing 28 yrs service. Prior to being the editor he was the chief reporter, news editor and deputy editor. Brian was described by many of his colleagues as 'being brilliant at his job' 'the best boss in the world' 'a great bloke who guided many young journalists with his vast journalistic experience, a perfect gentleman- a lovely man'



Charlie Shaw
Charlie Shaw is a keen collector and local historian. He often appears at gala's with his 'Name these Items and What they are Used For' stall - which is far more challenging than the one above.

No introduction needed for this guy. Tommy Joyce is probably the best known person in Mexborough. His boxing achievements and his charitable work are legend in the town. He is definitely on the 'A' list of Mexborough worthies.
Tony Tarver
Tony Tarver, host at the Empress Ballroom Mexborough during the 1960's and 70's. A superb ballroom dancer and an elegant and highly skilled host. He was charm personified-always looking good but not lacking substance. He was as good as it gets at what he did.



Mr Syd Hacking
Syd appears in a photograph of the South Yorkshire Times editorial staff, probably taken in the late 50's/early 60's and featured in 'The People of Mexborough' publication. He was the newspaper's editor prior to Dick Ridyard who was succeeded by Brian Kelly. He completes our trio of past SYT editors.


Thomas Scholey was a barge owner, boat builder and boatyard owner

BELOW: Blasher Ward
Pictured here long ago in the early 1900's, one summer's evening, is Blasher Ward at the tiller at work on the canal. Everyone in Denaby and Mexborough knew Blasher. In earlier days he was a popular footballer, but most of all he was what people called 'a real character'. They 'broke the mould' after they'd made Blasher. He'd make an excellent comic strip. Does anyone have any stories about him?

Walter Midgley

English operatic tenor, born in Bramley in Rotherham. As a child he was always in choirs and as he grew up he learned to play several musical instruments. He later attended Sheffield School of Music. He then joined the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden eventually becoming the principal tenor from 1951-1953. In 1944 South Yorkshire Musical Comedy Society engaged him to play the lead in 'The Student Prince' which was performed at Mexborough Empire Cinema. It was an enormous success.


Some of the Cadeby Main Heroes pictured in 1913 outside the gates of Buckingham Palace after receiving their bravery awards from George V.
The original photograph is now faded with age with the heroes looking like skeletal ghosts in a mist. This drawing is an attempt to give each man a clearer identification and remind us all that the past in its day was as clear and fresh as today.


John William Wall was born in Mexborough on the 6 Nov 1910 at 30 Lorna Road. His father was a passenger guard on the Great Central Railway. His mum was Mary Ellen (nee Moffatt). John was the youngest of five surviving children. He was a respectable working class boy who gained a scholarship to Mexborough School, then later won a scholarship to Jesus College, Cambridge to read English. Having gained first class honours he joined the diplomatic service in the Middle East working in Casablanca, Beirut, Jedda, Cairo etc.
During the 1940's and 50's he found time during his hectic working life to write three novels - Ringstone, The Doll Maker and The Sound of His Horn under the pseudonym of 'Sarban'
Wall retired from the position of Consular General in Egypt in 1966. He died in 1989 aged 79. The books are still in print.



Robert Glassby,
Robert Glassby, sculptor to Queen Victoria. Born 1835 at the White House, Windsor Castle Hill, Church Street, Mexborough, the home of his maternal grandfather Mr Gill.


Hugh Walters
Hugh Walters was born on March 2nd 1939 in Mexborough. He is an actor and writer, best known for the films 'Nineteen Eighty Four' and 'Brimstone and Treacle', He was educated at Worksop College, ottinghamshire and his acting career began in 1963 with a part in 'The Larkin's' TV sitcom. From this point onwards he has had numerous supporting roles in TV series, plays and films. Here is a tiny sample of what he has been in over the past fifty years: ZCars Heartbeat Survivors Dr Who The New Avengers Miss Marple Investigates Lovejoy The list is twelve times this length. This particular actor does not seem to have rested much.

Left: William 'Iron' Hague at 23 years of age in 1909 - the year in which he won the British and European Heavyweight titles. Right: Iron in 1950 taking a boxing stance at the Bulls Head pub at the age of 64. Iron looked much older than his years. During the Great War he joined the 3,d Battalion Guards and was sent to the frontline in France. The man that returned to Mexborough was far different to the one who had left. He was physically a broken man having been invalided out of the army due to his lungs being damaged by German mustard gas. Health and money problems dogged Iron as he struggled to keep going with bar work, fight refereeing and timekeeping. Iron didn't get rich from boxing. He had frequent bouts of pneumonia and one final bout led to his death in 1951. A sad end to the life of a true fighting man, but his achievements were colossal and he will never be forgotten.

Tony Christie (Named Anthony Fitzgerald) was born in Conisbrough in 1943. He is a singer, musician, actor and songwriter. Tony is best known for his track 'Is this the Way to Amarillo', a double chart success. He has sold more than 10 million albums worldwide and is a popular performer in continental Europe where he has also had much success.


Young men, between the wars, outside the George and Dragon, 1926. They
were waiting to take part in a card playing marathon which would begin on
Friday night and conclude on Monday morning. It was to take place at Mr
Pashley's, Royal Oak Terrace, off Church Street, opposite the Ferry Boat Inn.
See page 80 of The People of Mexborough'


Ted Hughes as Rochester in Jane Eyre or Heathcliff in Wuthering
Heights, or any other 'all earth' character who is at one with nature.

Tom Hill
Tom Hill was born in Blackheath in Staffordshire in 1880. He was a man who made things happen and enriched the lives of his fellow men and women for generations.
Chairman Tom and his board of trustees were the founders of the Denaby Miners Scheme 1924, the Welfare Working Men's Club was built, so was Fullerton Hospital, Swing Park, the Youth Club, the Swimming Baths, Football Ground,
Cricket Ground, Allotments, Bowling Green, Tennis Courts etc. At a time when mining was not nationalised he made sure that the colliery company were addressing the leisure needs of the mining community and in doing so he contributed strongly to the personal happiness of the community. They don't come any better.




ABOVE: Dan Clarke
Dan Clarke is a British auto racing driver born 4 October 1983 in Mexborough. most recently competing in the Firestone Indy Lights series with Walker Racing, having previously competed in the AIGP World Cup of Motorsport and the Champ Car World Series. Also nicknamed Speedy Dan'.

LEFT: David Caddick
David Caddick attended Mexborough Grammar school and played the organ in Mexborough Parish Church. He also sang in the choir with his brother. He later went on to study at both the London College and the Royal College of Music.
He eventually became Andrew Lloyd Webbers musical director, working on
such musicals as Evita, Phantom of the Opera, Starlight Express etc. Since 1987 he has been resident in the USA supervising all of the Lloyd Webber musicals on Broadway. He has also worked for Cameron Mackintosh on Les Miserables, producing a cast album: He is seen holding the 'Best Musical Show Album Award' for Les Miserables

Tony Greathead 1939-2011.
Like the main character in 'It's a Wonderful Life' Tony lived his whole life in his home village of Conisbrough. He attended Morley Place School, Northcliffe School and Mexborough Tech. Tony later qualified as a joiner and worked for the family firm of Greathead Brothers, then a joiners, builders and undertaker. This later became J.E. Greathead & Son, Funeral Directors. In 1968 he married June and they had two children -Jane and Edward. As an undertaker, Tony cared for people at difficult moments in their lives. His good works are too many to mention here. He was a local historian who with June published 'Photograph's of Old Conisbrough' which sold 5000 copies worldwide. He was a member of the heritage group, a local councillor, was involved with the scout group, rotary club, was a magistrate at Doncaster for 15 years, he also worked tirelessly to prevent open cast mining on Sheffield road. He also had good taste in village architecture and was rightly critical of early 1960's developments in the village centre. Tony cared about things being right and he got involved in support of many causes. He was known as 'Mr Conisbrough' - a name he earned.

RIGHT: Amy Lee Oliver.
Born 1987 is an athlete from Mexborough who competes in Archery. She is a former European champion and competed at the 2010 Commonwealth Games for England where she won a silver medal in the team event. Both of Amy's parents were archers and introduced her to the sport in 1993 and at that age she did not enjoy the sport and did not try it again until the age of seventeen. Amy was a part of the silver medal winning team at the 2007 European Field Championships and qualified for the individual finals. She wore her first silver medal to encourage herself and went on to take the gold medal. It was the first European Gold achieved by a female British archer for more than 20 years. May she have more and more success in the future.


Donald Pleasence 1919-1995
Born in Worksop, Donald was the son of Alice and Thomas Pleasence who was a railway station master at Conisbrough and Swinton railway stations. For a brief time Donald was a railway clerk at Conisbrough station. He had a strong desire to be an actor and joined Jersey Rep in 1939, but this would have to wait until the war was over. Donald served in the R.A.F. and was shot down and taken prisoner in camp Stalag Luft 1. Whilst in the camp he produced and acted in plays, entertaining the other prisoners. After the war he resumed his acting which eventually led to television plays and films, usually playing sinister characters. His most famous role being Blofield in 'You Only Live Twice. His best role was the Caretaker in Harold Pinter's play of that name. Other films include Halloween, Jesus of Nazareth, The Great Escape and Barchester Chronicles. In later years Donald was to visit Conisbrough railway station in order to revisit his youth.

George Oliver in 1915
Two studies- straightforward and caricature of Mr George Oliver then aged 73, who was a native of Swinton. He was a highly respected man who worked as a pottery packer for over fifty years . His happy boast was that he never had a day off work. Surely a remarkable record. He commenced at the Old Don Works in Swinton at the age of 15 and remained there for 9 years .During that time he assisted in packing on average, a truck load of earthenware a day.
He then went to the Kilnhurst Pottery where he was employed for over 40 years.
He remembered when Mexborough was quite a new place. He recalled many happy days spent angling, both on the river and canal. The water teeming with fish - chub, perch, roach etc, and in his own words he had seen 'loads' caught.
He also remembered the first railway development at Kilnhurst, known as the South Yorkshire Line, and recalled the two disasters at the old Warren Vale pits at Kilnhurst as a result of which many men lost their lives.
Mr Oliver was the great, great grandfather of Graham Oliver Heritage stalwart.


Trevor and Jenny Haigh (pictured above in 1970)

Trevor retired (they call it 'sitting down') from the Methodist Presbyteral Ministry when he was 68, but both he and Jenny are still active preachers where they live in Marske by the sea, in Redcar.

They both grew up in Mexborough and met at church, eventually marrying and having two children -Jonathan and Rachael.

Their 'walk with the lord' began at St Johns Methodist church. They became deeply involved with their bible studies. In 1984 Trevor went to Cliff Methodist Bible College in Derbyshire for one year and following this was sent to Northern Ireland as a lay pastor. After two years he returned to theological college and afterwards they were sent to the north of England to minister there. Jenny also took preaching exams and studied at Clifton College.

Throughout their lives Trevor and Jenny have always had empathy towards others. They have been a guiding light leading others in the right direction.

Find them on Google and read their 'Recipe for Living' which gives a detailed account of their worthwhile lives.

Chiselled features (above)
Once upon a time in 1880 there was an unusual wall at 104 Doncaster Road Mexborough.
On it were at least six stone figure carving's, Three were of Shakespeare, Cleopatra and Blasher Ward. They were carved by the Western Glen Quarry workers in the hut when it was raining and they had to stop.
The above depiction of the carvings is as authentic as the history in the bard's plays
Brian Hillerby (right)
It was appropriate that former Mexborough tobacconist Brian Hillerby should be the author of 'A History of the Mexborough Hippodrome Theatre' because the Hillerby family were linked with the theatre from its beginning.
The theatre was built by Mary Livesey in 1892 with loans from the Hillerby business as well as other similar sources.
Brian's great great uncle Horace Hillerby (pictured) appeared as pantomime dame and various other shows in the early 1900's . The list of stars who appeared there include Dan Leno, Florrie Ford, Charles Chaplin, Gracie Fields, Houdini, George Roby etc.
Brian's knowledge of music Hall, variety and musical theatre is vast. The 'Hippodrome Cards' on this site are developed from his research into who appeared there.

Dr S P Bhatia


Coun. Andy Pickering

Our story is set in the mid 1970's when I (Derek Allport) was in my early thirties and Len Davison was in his late forties. He was a well known character who had an electrical goods shop in Swinton. He was known as the 'Radio Doctor' because he repaired televisions and record players etc. He could also 'spin a yarn'.
On a nondescript midweek evening I was sat on a stool at the bar of an empty Mexborough pub quietly thinking about how the day had gone when in walked Len Davison. The dialogue (in script form) went something like this........
Len (Leaning towards me) You teach art don't you.
Derek Yes I do Len.
Len Well not a lot of people know this, but I have a drawing of a dove by Picasso at home.
Derek It sounds like a good reproduction.
Len No no no, it's not a reproduction. It's the real thing signed by the master himself.
Derek It's on the dining room wall is it?
Len No no, I keep it locked up in a chest of drawers - you can't be too careful, it must be worth a lot of money. Only my family know of It's existence.
Derek Where did you purchase it Len?
Len Oh I didn't buy it. Picasso gave it to me. I couldn't tell what he was saying because he was speaking in Spanish, but he was very friendly.
Derek Where did this happen Len?
Len In Sheffield, he gave it me in Sheffield.
Derek Len-you don't seriously expect me to believe that. Pull the other leg.
Len then told me the rest of the story. I had it checked out with an art historian and this is what happened .......

In 1950 Pablo Picasso the great 20th century artist got on the train at St Pancras and got off it at Sheffield Midland Station. The first thing he did was to go to the station barbers for a haircut. This was photographed by the local and national press who were all waiting for him.
He then stepped into a waiting limousine to be taken to the City Hall where he was the guest of honour at the World Peace Conference - some called it the 'communist convention'.
When the conference was over a queue quickly formed to get Picasso's autograph. Picasso drew doves on the back of conference leaflets and added his signature. Len, who was a young communist at the time, was in the queue.
Len Davison's seemingly tallest ever story turned out to be true.

 Ken Wyatt

'Spinning Plates' is a term which often refers to not coping, but Swinton community stalwart and councillor Ken J Wyatt is certainly 'fit for purpose': His interests include Heritage, Area Housing Panel, Sports, and health and well-being.

Wendy Watson

Sociable fundraiser Wendy Watson of Sedgefield Way, Mexborough, becomes governor of Rotary International District 1270 in July - the first woman to ever be appointed to the position.

She will oversee 47 clubs in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, stretching from Beverley in the north to Lincoln in the south and from Barnsley in the west to Cleethorpes in the east.

We wish her well.

Ben Bailey
Pictured here is the young Ben Bailey, founder of the housing construction business that carried his name. His is possibly the best known name in South Yorkshire. He was the archetype self- made man who established his company as far back as 1933. Just over 80years ago and still going strong.



Robert Glassby
Robert Glassby, sculptor to Queen Victoria, was born in Mexborough in 1836. Behind him is the Glassby Arch, which he carved and erected in the garden of local pottery owner and patron John Reed.

Rainbow Bazaar
'Rainbow Bazaar' is one of the most popular photographs in the 'People of Mexborough' publication. It's full of interesting characters shown in sharp detail. There are 54 people with 46 of them identified. Above is (left to right) 34- Mr Hardy, 27- Miss Edith Elliot and 40- Mr W Flocktower.

Giles H Brearley
(born 14 August 1955) is a published South Yorkshire local historian11' who has also both written and appeared in film. He is a qualified Chartered Management Accountant in public practice, he is also a 'practice certicate* assessor for the Institute. He is a Director sitting on the Boards of various  companies being also a former Director of Rotherham United F.C .
He lives in South Yorkshire and Sheen in London
He has been instrumental in organising fund raising for the erection of plaques to South Yorkshire historic achievors.

Jack Barker

Derby County and English Football International. John William Barker was born in 1906 in  Denaby. When he left school he began work at the Cooperative Society for a short time before beginning work underground at Cadeby Colliery. He started his football career with Denaby Rovers, then played for Denaby United for a season before being spotted by a Derby County football scout. He signed up for Derby County FC for 200 in 1928 and stayed with them until 1939 making 327 league appearances. When he retired from playing he moved into management, eventually returning to Derby as manager  in 1953. Jack died in 1982 at the age of 75 yrs.
Read John Gwadkin's 'Old Village of Denaby'for a detailed account.

David Holland
Only joking - David Holland is an 'A' list community stalwart. He has worked as a trade union official for stable lads, (connected to horse racing) and his role as scout and scout leader in Conisbrough has earned him the respect of generations of parents and youngsters for over half a century. He has served as a councillor for Mexborough and has supported many activities within the community. David is an asset to the community.


Michael Fowler

Michael is a Swinton based retired police Inspector who has just published his fourth book titled 'Coming, Ready or Not'. Michael worked in the South Yorkshire police force for 30 years before retiring. His novels have proved to be very popular all around the world. We wish him good fortune.


Denzil Ellis was a Mexborough railwayman who pursued, in his own time, his amateur acting interests with the South Yorkshire Musical Comedy Society. Denzil wanted to turn to acting as a career, so in 1948 he entered drama school. There he met Oliver Postgate (later of Bagpuss fame) and during conversation about his railway experiences they both agreed that it could provide good stories. And it did - eleven years later the stories of Ivor the Engine were still being read and seen on television.
In 1976 in the Miners Arms I met Denzil and caricatured him on the spot. He was over in Mexborough to see his mum. At this time he had appeared in TV plays, played in 'Desert Song' with John Hanson and produced a play with Richard (stinker) Murdoch titled The Irregular Verb to Love'. Denzil had then been working as a salesman which he said was more reliable for a steady income than acting. That was over 37 yrs ago and   it was the first and last time I saw Denzil.

The Empire Palace Cinema in Denaby opened on 4th Nov 1913. Seating was provided for 1,200. The facade is of brick and pebble dash with a central entrance. In 1939 sound was installed and the Empire served the people of Denaby with their only cinema for nearly fifty years. In 1962 it closed showing films and became the Lucky Strike Bingo Club. In the early 199Cs it was converted into a gymnasium and fitness centre.
The baby boomers and previous generations will remember the Saturday children's matinee's - cowboy films followed by a cartoon, then the serial which could be Captain Marvel or Superman etc.This was all consumed along with stick Spanish, sherbet and gobstoppers. Happy days.
BELOW - detail from the illustration above.

Jim Horsfall is Reserves Officer at Denaby Ings Nature Reserve - an important reserve for both plants and animals and less than a mile away from the centre of Mexborough. The site shows what can be done when nature re-claims land once crushed by heavy industry.

David Sheldon was born in Dudley in 1883. He came to Denaby Main in 1911 ahead of his family to work at Cadeby Main Colliery. During World War I he was awarded the 'Italian Cross of Honour' and the 'Oak Leaf' for being mentioned in dispatches by Winston Churchill. He took a platoon of men with horses laden with food over an exposed hill without any losses.
After the war he returned to Cadeby pit and became involved for the rest of his life in serving his community. His activities included Cadeby Union Officer, Conisbrough Air Raid Precautions committee (World War2), 27yrs on Conisbrough Urban District Council, Chairman of Mexborough Secondary School Governors, Governor of Conisbrough Northcliffe School, West Riding County Fire Service committee, sat for over 20yrs on Mexborough Divisional Education Executive - the list goes on.

Eric Atkin (RIGHT)
Eric Atkin aged 85 years has been selling British Legion poppies for 71 years, 50 years of which he has sold them in Wath and West Melton. Eric's parents were founder members of the legion's branch in Bolton Percy where Eric sold his first poppies. Eric and his brother and sister all received British Legion Gold Medals in recognition of their services. What wonderful people.

Men of the cloth: Revs Hobson, Ellershaw and Bateman

Albert E. Fox
was a UK trade unionist and Labour Representation Committee politician. He joined the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen in 1888 and for a number of years was ASLEF Branch Secretary at Mexborough.
By 1897 ASLEF's Yorkshire district had elected Fox to the unions Executive Committee and in April 1900 the committee elected Fox as the President. Fox was later elected as General Secretary and he supported ASLEF's continuation as an independent craft union. He died in 1914.
See Albert E. Fox wikipedio

Sam Scherdel
26 yr old Sam Scherdel, songwriter and performer from Mexborough has released his debut record 'Cruel Beautiful World'. He's been performing at numerous gigs and festivals in the region to good critical acclaim. We wish him well with his performances around the country.

John Fisher
The legendary John Fisher is pictured here in the early 1970's. He was at an arts committee meeting at the Rockingham Theatre (Schofield St. School) with Dr Bhatia,Ruby Bhatia and the theatre crowd.
The meeting was about how to encourage people in Mexborough to get involved with the arts. John had retired following a successful career at Mexborough Grammar School. This drawing reflects his 'I've seen it all before' posture, and there was no doubt that he had seen it all before. He had had his golden moments. We were simply excited about future possibilities .

Frederick William Hulme 1816-1884 was a landscape painter and illustrator. Son of Jesse Hulme and Elizabeth Trewolla he had inherited his mother's artistic skills. She was a porcelain painter in the nearby pottery works in Staffordshire. The family moved to Swinton potteries where his mother's skills were further developed. She initially taught him to paint and by 1850 he was exhibiting and listed as a professional artist. In 1852 he exhibited at the Royal Academy and moved to London were he remained for the rest of his life. He also worked as an illustrator. His subjects were pastoral landscapes with sheep, cows etc.

Justin Scott is a man who is going places. A play he has written scooped the prestigious Empire Award in New York.
It is a gritty play titled 'Stop at a Winner" and is set in Mexborough. It is about a group of recovering gambling addicts attending a gamblers anonymous meeting. Justin who is from Conisbrough graduated from The Northern Film School at Leeds Met University, and is now setting his sights on working for television. We wish him well.
Harry Crossley

Meet Stuart Sansome and John Doyle, Swinton councillors.

Doncaster and Rotherham MPs
Rosie Winterton, John Heeley and Kevin Barron


Jim Cleary was the Head teacher at Milton School, Swinton from Jan 1975 to Dec 1993. He was much loved by both his staff and pupils in a school which has a good reputation. Jim was always active within his local church and community, and he loved to organise entertainments in the form of variety shows in which he participated  as a 'romantic crooner'. The above song was a favourite of his. He was a great guy.