Sunday, 22 May 2022

A Walk From Swinton to Mexborough

An outlier of Mexborough Rock at Peas Hill Plantation

After my brief exploration of the listed buildings on Fitzwilliam Street in Swinton, I returned to Church Street via Milton Street and immediately encountered the remains of the old market cross, composed of the original Permian dolomitic limestone base and a new sandstone cross.
The market cross

It is thought to be from the time of King John in the early C13 and before it was relocated to its original position near to the site of the Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene, which is now occupied by the old St. Margaret’s church hall, it was placed outside the west door of the church.
The market cross

A little further down the road is St. John’s Methodist Church, which is built in a uniformly coloured light brown sandstone that does not appear to contain ironstone nodules typical of Mexborough Rock, with buff coloured medium grained gritstone dressings.
St. John's Methodist Church
Continuing down to the modern centre of Swinton, there is very little of architectural interest here, but when popping into the Community Library to see if there was any information about he local history, I was interested to see a hardback copy of the Building Stones of Rotherham – for which I had provided the photographs back in 1995.
The Building Stones of Rotherham

The brick built Carnegie Library, built in 1906, is surprisingly not listed and has several fine examples of stone carving on the uniformly buff coloured, medium grained gritstone dressings. These include a fine Baroque Revival style door surround that rises to three storeys and is topped by a pediment, which is decorated with swags.
Views of the Carnegie Library

Quickly walking down past the railway station and the small remaining stretch of the Dearne and Dove Canal, I came to the old Swinton Bridge School, commissioned by the Rotherham School Board and completed in 1878, which is now occupied by various businesses.
The former Swinton Bridge School

Like most of the few remaining Rotherham Board Schools, I have been unable to find out any information about its architect or history and I just took a few general record photographs of the principal architectural features.
Views of the former Swinton Bridge School

Although I didn’t examine the stonework closely, my photographs show that the massive sandstone dressings contain very many ironstone nodules, which suggest that it is from one of the quarries in the Mexborough Rock; however, the rock faced walling does not seem to have similar nodules and it may therefore have a different provenance.
Memorials at the former Swinton Bridge School

I was interested to see that one of the commercial units was occupied by a memorial mason, with many finished monuments on display. As a geologist, I couldn’t resist rummaging around in the skip, where I found a piece of gabbro to add to my rock collection.
A piece of gabbro
Further down the road, I was particularly interested to see the old premises of Tyas and Guest memorial masons, where the door surround to the very ordinary stone built terraced house is made in pink Peterhead granite. This would normally be a feature of more prestigious houses and was presumably added as an example of their work, which includes Thurnscoe war memorial.

The former premises of Tyas and Guest

Arriving in Mexborough, I took advantage of the LIDL supermarket to buy something for my tea and a nice bottle of Sicilan white wine and then made my way to Mexborough railway station, where I took some general photos for the British Listed Buildings website.
Mexborough railway station
Before crossing over to my platform by the foot bridge, I was very interested to see the extremely reddened sandstone in a section of walling at the west end of the station. Although I have not found the outcrop, the Geological Memoir for Barnsley describes a boundary between the yellow and red stained Mexborough Rock, which has a thin band rich in haematite with a metallic appearance.
Reddened Mexborough Rock at Mexborough railway station

While waiting for my train, I went to have a quick look at a small but very distinctive topographic feature standing above the floodplain of the River Don, named Peas Hill Plantation, which I had seen many times when travelling by train to Doncaster.
Pease Hill Plantation and the River Don floodplain

It is a small outlier of steeply dipping Mexborough Rock, which is detached from the main outcrop to the south-east by a fault. Unlike the Mexborough Rock to the north of the River Don, it has a SW-NE strike that relates to the formation of the Don Monocline, an important geological structure that affects the Coal Measures strata from Sheffield to Sprotbrough – a distance of 25 km.

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