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News update –

Autumn 2012

'New' photos

Once again our website has played a part in adding to the history and conserving some images that sadly no longer exist. Rotherham Photographic Society recently had to vacate their usual room at the old Arts Centre and on clearing the cupboards discovered some old slides of the memorials and gravestones at Masbrough Chapel taken by one of their members in the 1960s. After making contact  through the website they very kindly transferred them onto cds for us and also provided a print out of the images.

As we know the chapel has been destroyed and probably most of these memorials have also gone, so this will be the definitive listing of the memorials.

This image shows clearly the symmetry inside the chapel and the two memorials either side of the pulpit, I believe the right hand one is to Henry Walker, 1785- 1860.  Henry lived at Clifton Museum for some time. His father, Joshua Walker actually had Clifton House built in 1783.
Inside the chapel

The report from the Rotherham and Masborough Advertiser Jan: 28th 1860 on the funeral of the late Henry Walker esq is below.

“On Wednesday morning last, the mortal remains of this highly respected and deeply lamented gentleman were conveyed to their last resting place in Masborough Chapel yard, escorted by a large number of the inhabitable of the town, all of whom testified by their downcast and saddened countenances how much they regretted the loss of one who was on all occasions a kind and generous benefactor. The whole of the shopkeepers in the town manifested their esteem to one o'clock, and the great bell of our parish church tolled in solemn recognition of the sad event.”

The picture also shows the fine interior of the chapel and the beautiful woodwork and the balcony.

Inside chapel

This picture shows the balcony, the organ and another large memorial to the left of the door which I believe is to Mary Walker, wife of Samuel. Various other impressive memorials are to the members of the Walker family including this one below to Jonathan Walker who died in 1807.


Other memorials are to previous ministers at the Chapel, John Thorp was the first pastor at the Independent Chapel a position he held for 16 years until his death in 1776. Thorp joined the Walkers in setting up the Masbrough Independent Chapel after struggling with his conscience and trying to achieve clarity as the which doctrine he believed he should follow. There was a division in the teachings of Methodism nationally during the years 1757 to 1760 and there were those that followed Wesley and Armenianism and the others who followed Whitefield and a form of modified Calvinism. Thorp and the Walkers followed the latter.
His memorial is shown below 

Thorp memorial


Book Gift

book cover

We have recently been given a bound volume that was prepared to mark the retirement of H. Noel Clark as secretary of the Masbrough Independent Chapel in 1943. It consists of three heavily decorated pages of pen and ink craftmanship of great precision and beauty. The book was discovered in the cellar of a Leeds solicitor and the secretary there traced us through the website.

Noel Clark was secretary to the Chapel through a particuarly busy time 1922 – 43. This covers the depression following the first world war and through to the build up to the second war. He was part of the Beatson-Clark industrialist family of glassmakers.
I have scanned in the frontespiece but it doesn’t really do justice to the craftsmanship so anyone interested can see the original on our stall at the local history fair on October 20th in Rotherham Minster.


October 2012 newsletter

Oct 2012 newsletter



Rotherham Advertiser 9th March 2012

Front page


Page 4


Letters page



march 09 newsletter



The burial ground is clearer than it has been in decades and we will be holding several open days this year.

Watch the website for details.


Update - Hopefully interested residents will note that most of the rubbish has been removed from the burial ground and that railings are in place as some of the oldest tombs are to be checked for safety.

It was also noted that the owner was selling fireworks and when South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue were contacted they confirmed that they had been unable to meet up with the owner so he didn't have licence to sell these. They have liaised with the council and a notice has been served on the venue premises, by the council, forbidding any events to take place until Fire and Rescue have been allowed into the building to check on its safety. This is to protect members of the public and to ensure that fire exits etc are in place.


Other sites regarding Rotherham heritage ….

Please see this website www.doncastergatehospital.co.uk for more information about the campaign to save Doncaster Gate Hospital in Rotherham.


On July 18th 2008 the Friends attended a council planning application proposed by the Chapel owner Mr Khaliq. He planned to have a meeting venue mainly for Asian weddings in the old school rooms. We were alarmed because the idea would have quite a disastrous affect on the Chapel and also the neighbourhood. Twenty letters of objection were received by the council which listed valid concerns and the council were going to recommend rejection of the planning application. Mr Khaliq must have realised this and withdrew the application before it could be discussed. We do not have any idea of his future plans but will watch the situation closely.

            Unfortunately there had been a large amount of fly tipping on the site which the council were following up and this had affected he maintenance agreement finally in place. The council were also following this up to get the rubbish removed.


July 08 newsletter
One step forward and two steps back for the Masbrough  Chapel
flytipping at site

Recently the results of a four year impasse between the Council and the owner of the Chapel came to a satisfactory conclusion when a court case ruled in the Council’s favour to allow maintenance teams to go into the burial ground.

This was long overdue as no clearing had been done for almost ten years and the site had become impassable and neglected. An initial site survey and clearing team was set in motion and the first clearing up had been done. The burial ground is a designated public open space and a covenant exists to keep it so, known as the 1968 Agreement.

However the Friends of the Masbrough Chapel and Walker Mausoleum’s joy was short-lived when it became clear that the owner has now decided to market part of the buildings as a “Function Room”. This is in part of the Victorian Schoolrooms to the side of the listed Chapel. Enquiries showed that no planning permission had been sought or building regulations approached for this venture. The Council’s Enforcement Officer was alerted and has informed the owner that he cannot hold any functions there until the relevant permission has been granted. Planning permission has now been sought but the application was incomplete and was returned to the owner.  As this is a residential area and because of the proximity to the Listed Chapel we would consider this to be an unsuitable use for the buildings as well as the fact that we believe no safety work has been undertaken.

The council’s team were preparing to include the site to be regularly maintained when once again the situation has taken a twist. A large amount of rubbish has been fly-tipped onto the burial ground. As access to the area is still difficult it is surprising if this has come from a van or lorry.

This important historical site is deteriorating fast and we thought we were on target to actually make a difference here. This is not just about saving bricks and mortar; the Walker family were instrumental in the transformation of Rotherham from a rural town to an important industrial centre. The burial ground is an integral part of Rotherham’s history. The forebears of many Rotherham families are buried here along with children that died in the Masbrough Boat disaster and leading industrialists of the Victorian period.

Centenary Way slices the site off from town and it is in what has become a forgotten area. Our Chapel, Mausoleum and burial ground will never pull in the visitor numbers required by Heritage Lottery to receive big grants but it is an important part of the industrial and social heritage of Rotherham and must be preserved.

Maintenance of the site must be continued, the fly-tipping cleared and access made safe for local people so that it can become part of the community once more.


Stop press – The council have now obtained a judgement from the court to enforce the owner to allow access to the graveyard so it can be maintained and visited by interested people. It is a designated Public Open Space. We will update you when it is safe to go on site as the Greenspaces team have to organise a specialist clear up. Later in the summer we will plan a walk around Masbrough and hopefully to enter the graveyard and the Mausoleum. Watch for our advertising.


An Egyptian Tomb – in Rotherham! 
Click here to read the article written by Steve Blackbourn, former Manager of Clifton Museum.
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