Secret Rotherham offers a unique insight into this bustling, modern South Yorkshire town through a series of little-known and forgotten stories, facts and anecdotes from its past. The town has an enviable industrial history: Nelson's HMS Victory was armed with Walker cannons made at Masbrough, the iron plates for Isambard Brunel's steamship the Great Eastern were manufactured at Parkgate Iron & Steel Works, and the firm of Guest & Chrimes invented the modern screw-down tap. Over the centuries the Rotherham area has also had its fair share of famous residents and visitors. It was the home of the Earl of Strafford, who was beheaded in 1641; John Wesley, the `Father of Methodism', was a fairly frequent (if not always welcome) visitor to the area; Ebenezer Elliott, the `Corn Law Rhymer', was born and bought up in the town; and the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams spent many a summer in one of the outlying villages.
In Secret Rotherham Melvyn Jones and Anthony Dodsworth pull back the curtains of history to peer into the borough's distant and not so distant past to reveal the forgotten, the strange and the unlikely.
Mel Jones is the author of numerous articles and books on the local history of South Yorkshire and for twelve years was BBC Radio Sheffield's 'History Man' with a regular half-hour live local history spot. He is a well-established Amberley author. Tony Dodsworth is a retired secondary school teacher. He helped to set up Rawmarsh and Parkgate Local History group in 2011 and gives historical and geographical talks to groups such as the U3A and Probus in the Rotherham area. He recently produced an oral history book, Voices of Rawmarsh and Parkgate and edited a diary written by a visitor to South Yorkshire from New Zealand in 1939-40 entitled entitled Gwennie's Diary.