Friday 12 March 2010


20 years ago, each town and city in South Yorkshire had a thriving town/city centre and fabulous markets. Then they built Meadowhall (or Meadowhell as hubby calls it). Whilst it brings shoppers from far and wide to the area, it has slowly killed off every town and city nearby. Rotherham went one step further by building a fabulous little out of town high street 2 miles out of the town centre, and slowly one by one almost all of the high street shops moved out of town to Parkgate. When Marks and Spencers moved out, that rang the death knell for this once pretty and bustling little town. The only high street shops that remain are Primark, Boots and WH Smiths. If you want a bookies, mobile phone, or (rubbish and overpriced) charity shops, then head for Rotherham. They do have a "Renaissance" program, which so far consists of building a few apartments in the town centre, but there doesn't seem to be an overall purpose for the place anymore. I think it is really sad to see, and I know its not only happening in South Yorkshire, as last year, on the way home from London, we detoured to Brackley which used to be a lovely bustling town. This too looks as if it has died a death and we struggled to spend more than half an hour there.

Anyway, my reason to visit Rotherham, was to look at the newly restored Imperial Exchange building. This is a gorgeous building right in the town centre that they are hoping to attract artists and craft business's to.

I had planned the visit on my own, but I ended up with hubby in tow as they cancelled his work day at the last minute because of a mix up. When I got into the building, I wished that I had left him at home as some lovely ladies were sewing hearts with vintage fabrics and they were inviting the public to join in.

I loved this magnificent needle felted parrot.

The building was once part of the market complex in Rotherham, featuring butchers and fishmongers etc. The old tiles in the units are still there.

I hope it is a success.

The town has a magnificent church.

One of the unique features of the town is the Chapel on the Bridge which is only one of a handful of building like this left in the UK.

Its also famous - or should that be infamous - for being home to Jamie Olivers "Ministry of Food" the centre of his "pass it on" campaign. I feel that this is a bit of a half hearted attempt by Jamie Oliver (the fact that it is never going to make him any money might be a factor in this). Even the sign looks temporary and looks as if it will be whipped away at any moment. I thought his idea was OK, but I think it really needs kids to be taught to cook in school properly again. I was taught really well at school to cook and I cook almost all of our meals from fresh, but I cannot get the kids interested at all!! There are too many distractions for them at home, whereas when they cook at school, they are full of enthusiasm for it.

So what will happen to towns like Rotherham? What purpose can they serve in the future? I think that town planners have a lot to answer for. I did really well to take so many photos and not get a chav in any!!!


Scented Sweetpeas said...

:-( It is sad isn't it. I don't really understand why planners can't look at what they have already and make it better e.g. add better parking facilities etc rather than build a whole new area? Loving the new art quarter, what a fab idea !

BadPenny said...

You really do show us some lovely buildings, archetecturre & features.
In Southampton yesterday I just had to " GET OUT " of West Quay shopping centre to the air of the old high street ! It stil has some big ames here but the centre dominates. Horrible i my view !

Ellouise88 said...

What a lovely post and I agree with you whole-heartedly!

Kathy said...

I couldn't agree more - these huge shopping malls will sound the death knell of the independent traders on our traditional high streets.One day the planners will wake up and wonder what went wrong and it will be too late.
I love the idea of the craft centre - a great building too!
Love Kathy xxx

Lisa said...

The old building you went to see looks gorgeous, so much more character than the new lifeless centres.
Lisa x

Jennyff said...

I totally agree, nothing nicer than walking down a proper city centre street. These huge malls are soulless, must cost a fortune to heat, you could be anywhere and all the shops are predictable.

Gilly said...

Its not just Yorkshire, Diane! The Trafford Centre just west of Manchester has drained a lot of towns round here. though I did hear that some of the shops in the TC are closing. I can't stand the place - been there once and never again!

I hope that Arts Centre in Rotherham succeeds.

love those cupcakes said...

I think you should start a Bring Back The High Street campaign.

How great that, after a visit to the Ministry of Food, you can pop next door to Thornton's for a chocolate fix!!!

Flower Girl said...

I could not agree with you more! It is so sad to see small businesses disappearing from the high street and, as you point out, even the high street moving out of town completely! I hate Meadowhall and have not been there for years. Thank you for showing the Imperial Exchange - I am inspired to take a visit there soon! Well done for managing to keep the chavs out of the picture! Rebecca x

topchelseagirl said...

What a fantastic building for an artsy/crafty centre. Love those old tiles. Love that gothic church too.

Rosie said...

I don't think I've ever been to Rotherham - been through it but never stopped to look. The exchange building looks wonderful - it is sad when these outside shopping centres take the heart out a town or village. I've been to Meadowhall once as I have the Trafford Centre and the one at Telford but they are so huge and overwhelming! There is nothing nicer than a town high street full of interesting shops but now, as you say, they are usually charity or pounds shops - not that I mind those but I like to have the others as well:)