The darker side of old Ship Inn unearthed

The Ship Inn pictured on a postcard sent in by Giles Brearley
The Ship Inn pictured on a postcard sent in by Giles Brearley

THE Ship Inn at Swinton was recently demolished and reader and rock guitarist Graham Oliver took some pictures to record its final moments, writes Kevin Rogers.

Keen historian and Saxon legend Graham also gained an insight into the darker aspects of the historic pub’s past when he unearthed court cases in local newspapers from the 19th Century.

The Ship Inn at Swinton is demolished April 2012'Picture by Graham Oliver

The Ship Inn at Swinton is demolished April 2012'Picture by Graham Oliver

Said Graham: “I think it is a great pity the Ship Inn had to be demolished.

“It had a unique shape and the shape of it really did look like a ship. Some parts of it date back to the 17th century, and an extension was built on it in the 1890s. It was not a listed building.

“I was interested in what used to happen around the pub in days gone by, so I did some research and found it had a bit of a chequered past.”

From the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent, September 1847:

“Murder £100 reward. Free pardon.

Whereas Caleb Barker, late of the township of Swinton near Rotherham, Warehouseman at the Don pottery near Swinton aforesaid was about ten o’clock on the night of Saturday the 4th day of September onst, brutally attacked and beaten and his skull severely fractured by some person or persons when proceeding from the Ship inn at Swinton Bridge near Swinton aforesaid to his house, near the Don Pottery, by reason whereof he died on the following morning. Notice is hereby given that a reward of one hundred pounds will be paid by her majesty’s Government to any person who shall give such information or evidence as shall lead to the conviction of the murderer or murderers....and a pardon to any accomplice not being one of the person’s who struck Caleb Barker who shall give such evidence as shall lead to the same results..”.

From the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent, July 1851:

“Thomas Askin of the Ship Inn Swinton was summoned for having his house open for the sale of liquor during the hours of Divine service on Sunday morning of the 22nd of June. It was proved by the constable that about a quarter to 12 on the day in question he visited the house and found several parties drinking there Mr Whitfield who appeared for the defence took an objection to the information. The licence was held by a person named Kemp who had disposed of the business to Askin but the licence had never been transferred”.

Another story of a similar vintage detailed a sexual assault on a 60-year-old woman who had called at the pub on business, by drinkers at the pub. Graham also found three records of drowning in the river near to the pub.

He intends to compile his research and give it to Mexborough Heritage Society.

Graham added: “This sort of thing is really interesting as delving into the old newspapers gives you an insight into what life was like in the Dearne all those years ago.

“I have spent many hours in the Ship. My most vivid memory of the place was when I was guitarist with Saxon in 1980 I was having a pint there and chatting with fans of the band who were going to see us the day after at the first Monsters of Rock festival at Castle Donnington.

“I remember when going out in Swinton was like the Golden Mile at Blackpool.

“People from here will have many happy memories of the place”.