FRIENDS OF CATCLIFFE
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Catcliffe = "Catteclive" = wild cat bank.
The bank on which the wild cats were found was almost certainly the banks of the River Rother that passes close to the village.
The first documentary reference to the village does not appear until Robert de Herthill held a house and land in Catcliffe for which he paid an annual rent of 10s (£0.50) to Gervase de Bernack of Treeton. From the Bernacks, Catcliffe passed to the Furnivals, lords of Hallamshire, from whom it descended to the Dukes of Norfolk.
A 1649 rental of the estates of the Earls of Pembroke (then lords of Hallamshire) records the tenants at Catcliffe, the most important being George Oake, Margaret Jarvis and Thomas Revell. Catcliffe remained a small, agricultural settlement until the 19th century, the one intrusion of industry being the construction of a glass furnace in the 18th century. The furnace was built in 1740 by William Fenney.
He had married the daughter of the owner of the Bolsterstone Glassworks but had been unable to expand the works there and set up on his own account at Catcliffe. He was probably attracted to the site by the easy availability of coal and the opening of the Don Navigation to Rotherham which offered economic transport of the finished product to market.
The Catcliffe works had two cones or furnaces. In 1759 the works was taken over by the May family who were succeeded by Blunn and Booth in 1833. The glassworks closed in 1884 although there was a short-lived revival in 1901. One of the Catcliffe cones survives, one of only four to have survived out of over 100 glass cones that were constructed in Britain during the 18th century. The cone was purchased by Rotherham Rural District Council in the 1960's and old people's bungalows were later built on the surrounding land.
A successful local history group exists that has a fascinating array of historical background to the village. They meet monthly and the programme for the Brinsworth and Catcliffe Local History Group can be found by clicking BCLHG Programme.
Catcliffe was a township within the ecclesiastical parish of Rotherham. As such it did not have its own church and the inhabitants probably attended the chapel at Tinsley. The first place of worship within the village was the Wesleyan Chapel, opened in 1869. A new Methodist chapel was erected in 1906. A temporary iron Anglican Church, St Faith's, was erected in 1895. Catcliffe became part of the new parish of Brinsworth in 1903, and a new permanent church, St Mary's, was erected in 1910. St Mary’s is the site of the village graveyard and the War Memorial. Click here for Church News.
A school was first built in 1876 with a capacity for 180 children. An adjacent school opened in 1900 with room for 260 pupils. In keeping with the times, in 1959 the school closed to older pupils and became a a primary and junior school. Older children mostly attended the new Swallownest Comprehensive which following a few name changes is now Aston Academy. Other options included the nearby Brinsworth Comprehensive which is also now an Academy. Before the closure of the Catcliffe Senior school, pupils could take the 11+ exam with the hope of attending Woodhouse Grammar School. Dinnington Technical College also offered openings for 13 year old pupils.
The population of the township remained small. It was 135 in 1801 and increased slowly throughout the 19th century, reaching 273 in 1851 and 352 in 1891. The decade between 1891 and 1901 saw the Catcliffe population expand to 1,232. The reason for this expansion can be found in the development of collieries in surrounding parishes and the sinking of the High Hazels Colliery was later the subject of extensive opencast mining. The population of Catcliffe reached a peak at 2,048 in 1951. It then began to fall, reaching 1,671 in 1981 and 1,392 in 1991. 10 years later following new housing developments the census showed a rise to 1766.
The village continues to prosper. There is now a large business area to the south west of the village which provides three major retailers, a restaurant and other outlets. This facility has affected local small businesses but some still remain. An internationally renowned Advanced Business Park is rapidly growing which will soon form a boundary to Orgreave and Handsworth. The infamous stench and pollution of the Orgreave Coke and Chemical works is now gone and following a period of Open Cast mining at the site a new township called Waverley is springing up.
The future growth of the village has attracted three new building developments which it is hoped will in turn bring new schools and modern facilities. The building of a new train station has been muted which will improve transport links. Catcliffe seems set for a new period of prosperity.