Back to the English Counties Page

Yorkshire, as a whole, is divided into four parts, north, south, east and west. This is not, by size, an equal division as North Yorkshire is about one and a half times bigger than the other three put together. Of all other English counties, only Sussex is also divided, this time into west and east.





South Yorkshire is the 38th largest county or metropolitan borough in England.
South Yorkshire has the 10th highest population in England.
South Yorkshire is in 9th place for density of population.

  1. The Royal Connection
  2. It was really difficult to find a royal link to South Yorkshire and in the end I decided on the really beautiful Conisburgh Castle. It was founded by William de Warenne who just happened to be the father-in-law of William the Conqueror and had fought at Hastings with the Normans. The manor of Conisburgh had previously been owned by Harold Godwinson, the defeated King Harold from the Battle of Hastings. William build a motte and bailey castle, two baileys actually as it had an inner and outer one.

    It was passed down from father to son for a while but in 1163 it became the property of Hamlin Plantagenet who was the illegitimate half-brother of Henry II, another royal connection. Hamlin had married Isabel the great granddaughter of William de Warenne. Hamlin rebuilt much of the castle in stone during the late 1100s and King John, another royal connection (this is going well) visited the castle in 1201.

    Several royals owned or lived at the castle over the next hundred or so years and by 1461, during the wars of the Roses, the castle was owned by Edward IV who had just seized power.

    Now the castle is under the control of English Heritage and can, when we are allowed out again, be visited. Imagine that; standing on the same ground as a castle built almost 1,000 years ago, although little if any of the original castle is still there. But the land is.

    Oh and the novelist Sir Walter Scott, who appeared when we looked at Kennilworth Castle in Warwickshire, saw Conisburgh Castle in 1811 and used it as the location for his novel Ivanhoe, published in 1819. The events he wrote about though were fictitious.

  3. South Yorkshire Eats
  4. This could just as easily have been in the West Yorkshire eats section but I wanted to put something else there, for personal reasons, so this is, with some logic, here. I am sure that to the British followers the pictures on the left are familiar: Top picture of Pontefract Cakes, lower one of Bassett's Liquorice Allsorts. However it is not certain of the origins of growing liquorice in England. There is a record of it from the 15th century but by 1780 much of it was grown in Pontefract, now in North Yorkshire.

    Liquorice was grown on land behind people's gardens. At the time it was used as a medicine for humans and horses. The Pontefract Cake was a small circular liquorice tablet and in 1760 a chemist called George Dunhill added sugar to the medicinal liquorice. The cakes are about 2 cms in diameter and 4 mms thick. The cakes were stamped, since 1612, with the castle emblem of Pontefract to show their quality. However, they became so popular that local growers did not make enough liquorice and so much of it was imported from places like Turkey. Owlbut would like me to mention that when the first secret ballot was held in an election, the ballot box was sealed with a stamp showing Pontefract castle and an owl.

    Meanwhile, and why this is on the South Yorkshire page, an accident happened when a man called Charlie Thompson was showing a tray of samples of sweets made by a company called Geo, Bassett and Co Ltd, in 1899. The company had been founded in Sheffield in 1842 by George Bassett. Butterfingers Thompson dropped the sweets and as he scrambled to re-arrange them, the client said how good the muddled creation looked. When Bassett's started to manufacture these mixed-up sweets they allowed the customer to name them and he decided on Liquorice Allsorts.

    Bertie Bassett, a figure made up of Liquorice Allsorts, has been the company mascot since 1926 and there is now a liquorice figure of Bertie in most packets. On a personal note the aniseed jelly ones are my favourite.

  5. South Yorkshire VIPs
  6. Seven random people who were born in South Yorkshire in the last 100 years:-
    Michael Palin (Actor, Comedian. Presenter), Helen Sharman (Chemist and First British Astronaut), Brian Blessed (Actor), Jessica Ennis-Hill (Athlete and Olympic Gold Medallist), Sean Bean (Actor), Jeremy Clarkson (TV Presenter) and Joe Root (Cricketer).

  7. Now That's Weird
  8. You may wonder, and we won't stop you, why Yorkshire has an East Riding, a North Riding and a West Riding but the other part is known as South Yorkshire. This all goes back to Viking times. Until 1974 Yorkshire was divided into three Ridings as above. The term Riding came from the Viking threthingr which virtually means a third. It would appear that the Vikings liked splitting things into threes. York, or Jorvik as it was named by those Vikings, was the capital of Viking England for many years.

    However, in 1974, as often happens, county boundaries were all changed. You may remember or if not pop to the weird section of the Leicestershire pages, that Stilton cheese cannot be made in Stilton and that was because of boundary changes too. So when the Ridings were disbanded in 1974 and four counties created they could not be known as Ridings. However for east, west and north the term riding still stuck.

    It would appear, from my assiduous (long word - look it up) research that the Viking for a quarter might be fjorirthingr, which again might mean we now have four fordings of Yorkshire. However, this seems unlikely so we will just have to have the north, south, east and west quarters of Yorkshire.

  9. It Happened Here
  10. So there, in 1743, was Thomas Boulsover, working for the Sheffield Cutlers Company, trying to repair the handle of a customers decorative knife. The knife was made of copper and silver. Accidentality, Boulsover heated the handle too much causing the two metals to fuse together. At first he was pretty upset that he had ruined a customer's property but then he noticed that if silver and copper were fused together in this way they actually became one metal. This became known as Sheffield Plate.

    Boulsover continued his experiments and put a thin sheet of silver on a thick ingot of copper and heated the two together to fuse them. When the composite block was hammered or rolled to make it thinner, the two metals were reduced in thickness at similar rates. Using this method, Boulsover was able to make sheets of metal which had a thin layer of silver on the top surface and a thick layer of copper underneath. When this new material was used to make buttons, they looked and behaved like silver buttons but were a fraction of the cost. A double form of Sheffield plate was developed around 1770 and this had a sheet of silver each side of a piece of copper and these were used for bowls and mugs, like the picture above.

    Later on Boulsover set up a company and as well as making cheap silver-looking buttons he made buckles, spurs and small snuff boxes. Boulsover became quite rich and famous. In 1757 he set up his business on Norfolk Street and this is now the location of the stage door to the Crucible Theatre where, among many other things, the world snooker championships are usually held.

    In 1760 Boulsover started manufacturing better quality steel plate making saws. He died a wealthy man on the 9th of September 1788, aged 84. He gained his wealth and fame all because of an accident. Now what can I accidently discover?

  11. Richard Remembers
  12. I'm sure I have driven through South Yorkshire, although it only came into existence on 1 April 1974 (I hope it wasn't an April Fool joke), but I don't really remember anything about the county. When I went to live in Leeds (read the pages about West Yorkshire for more on this) and subsequent train journeys back and forth to London, our train from London would always stop at Doncaster and as it is only about 30 miles from Leeds we knew our 5 hour journey, on a stream train no less, was nearly at an end.

    Owlbut has told me that I should also remember to tell you that Sheffield Wednesday Football Club are known as The Owls. Originally known as the Blades, because Sheffield is famous for its knives and cutlery, when that didn't cut the mustard (look it up), they changed to The Owls in 1912, partly because they had moved their ground to Owlerton. Owlbut has asked me to point out he didn't have anything to do with the terrible knife/cut remark.

  13. Owlbut's Birdwatch
  14. The Greater Spotted Woodpecker is a black-bird sized bird. It's feathers are black, white, brown and grey with a definite red patch underneath the body. The male also has a red patch on the back of its head while young birds also have a red crown. It has a long, chunky beak and brown legs. I have read that it has a bouncing way of flying. It gets its name because it spends most of its time clinging to tree trunks and branches and pecking away. Greater Spotted Woodpeckers will eat insects, seeds and nuts.

    They are about 22 cms in length, have a wingspan between 34 and 39 cms and weigh 85 grams. There are 140,000 breeding pairs in this country. You might see them anywhere in England in woodlands, parks and gardens, usually somewhere where there are trees.

We have asked the local Tourist Board(s) for a small contribution (50 pounds) to the cost of running this project and, in anticipation of their agreement, we are providing a link to their site(s) for the next five years. I can assure you we won't see anywhere near everything when we are there, so, if you fancy taking a trip into southyorkshire check it (them) out for some great information. Apart from anything else it will get you out in the fresh air, walking around and one day you might be over 70 and still enthusiastically mobile.

All figures the latest available as at July 2020