‘There is a sense of order in the garden’

by ANTONY CLAY

Winthrop Gardens organiser Anna Chester (left) with volunteers in the cafe. From left to right are: Barbara Smith, Margaret Moran, Diane Elliott and Sue Ellis.

IN our ever more frantic world it is nice to find a place to get away from the hurly burly of everyday life.

There is one place where you can find a bit of peace and quiet – as well as a nice brew.

The word about Winthrop Gardens in Wickersley near Rotherham has been spreading fast and the number of visitors is on the up.

At Christmas, people were flocking in to enjoy festive afternoon teas but folk call in to look at the imaginative garden displays throughout the year.

Indeed, people have been known to take a detour off the nearby M18 motorway to take a break at the attraction on Second Lane, off Morthen Road.

Winthrop Gardens, which is run by eager volunteers, was taken on by Wickersley Parish Council back in 2016 as a community garden – and it is proving a good investment.

Cllr Sue Ellis, chairperson of the parish council, is always enthusiastic about Winthrop Gardens.

“We had a small amount of money to take it over as a community asset,” she said.

The land was formerly contaminated land when it was taken over and run by another organisation for ten years prior to the parish council adopting Winthrop Gardens.

A view of Winthrop Gardens

Now, the one-acre community garden is a well-tended tranquil spot full of colour and scents.

Visitors can wander around and see different garden themes which will vary throughout the year.

“There is a sense of order in the garden,” said Sue.

“We pride ourselves as having a lot of time for people.

“It’s glorious in the summer. We are in the sun all day.”

The glorious garden displays are thanks to a dedicated band of around 60 volunteers who work throughout the year planting, watering and tending the floral offerings.

Sue said: “It’s fabulous having the volunteers. It would be difficult for us as a parish council to run it without their goodwill.”

The team is led by head volunteer gardener Martin Ford who opted to start volunteering at Winthrop Gardens after moving to Yorkshire from Shrewsbury where, as luck would have it, he just happened to be a lecturer in horticulture.

Now he enjoys spending time at the attraction.

As he said: “I just get job satisfaction. It’s work without doing a paid job.”

Martin said that volunteers are hard at it all year round except for a fortnight break for Christmas and New Year, although people still have to pop in to water the plants even then.

The cafe at Winthrop Gardens.

“We are creating a sensory garden, a garden of peace and tranquility,” said Martin.

“We are trying to get more fragrances to stimulate more senses and offer more sitting places for our visitors.

“All the garden volunteers integrate well with each other and enjoy being here. We will take ownership and make it the best we can.”

Martin said that the Gardens contain unusual trees for the area and there are plans to develop attractions such as a fairy garden. There are surprises such as a large elephant sculpture and a wishing well which means that Winthrop Gardens has as much for children as it does for adults.

There is a popular cafe and space for groups to meet. The venue is popular with dementia sufferers and their carers, as well as women’s groups, Mothers’ Unions, and disability charities.

The Atrium offers space for groups to meet. One such group is Flossie’s Crafts run by Dawne Wells which she started as an opportunity for members to be creative and to socialise.

Member Gloria Shaw, of Rockingham, said: “I came to the cafe after having a knee replacement. We came a couple of times and someone said we are starting a craft group and would you like to come? My sister said to go.

“I would say they are a lovely bunch of ladies. We are all very friendly. It’s nice especially if you are on your own because you make new friends.”

There is also Curiosity Corner where items donated by wellwishers, such as books and ornaments, are sold to bring in a bit of extra cash for Winthrop Gardens.

Money is always needed to maintain what is there already but in the future there are hopes to develop the bricks and mortar at Winthrop Gardens to provide better buildings.

Anna Chester, Winthrop organiser, said: “We will need to do some development at some point. The temporary flat-roofed building will need to be replaced.”

Funding is always sought and branches of the Co-op in Wickersley, for instance, have helped out in recent times.

Being part of this year’s National Open Gardens Scheme on June 22 and 23 also brought in new visitors.

Normally, there is no admission charge to the Gardens.

Winthrop Gardens has been taken to their heart by the community with people donating plants and also buying them. There are many regular visitors -– individuals, couples, families and groups – who either enjoy sitting out in the open air or having a coffee or a pot of tea in the lively cafe.

Anna said: “Quite a few elderly women will come on their own and feel safe.

“In the last last couple of years we didn’t open over winter but now we have developed a clientele therefore we need plants to fit all seasons

“Our afternoon teas are very popular. At Christmas, for instance, we did Christmas afternoon teas and made 293 in six weeks. Throughout the year we make around 850.

“We do social good here.”

The Winthrop Gardens dementia cafes are popular and helpful. Eighty per cent of the Gardens’ volunteers have undertaken dementia awareness training.

Summer opening has begun at Winthrop Gardens with the premises open Tuesday to Thursday between 10.30am and 4pm.

Other attractions this summer include a Ladies Day on September 12, and Yorkshire Day on August 1. There are also Supper Nights on July 12, August 16 and September 20.

Volunteers are always sought – both old and young – and the number of visitors seems on the rise.

Winthrop Gardens is full of surprises and has proved to many a pleasant place to visit and volunteer. It certainly has become a “community asset”.

FACTFILE:
Budding volunteers can call Anna Chester on 07397 039226.
For information on Winthrop Gardens, visit http://www.winthropgardens.org.uk or follow it on Facebook @Winthrop-Gardens.

Teachers who like a bit of drama

by ANTONY CLAY

Cut-up Theatre Company’s cast of ‘Immaculate’. From left to right are, back: Lewis Wilding as Angel Gabriel, Oscar Brockbank as Lucifer, front: Hannah Mitchell as Rebecca, Suzy Dix as Mia and Anthony Lancashire as Michael. 190408-1

TWO teachers have demonstrated their love of live drama by setting up their own theatre company.

Cut-Up Theatre Company performed its first show in March and the two men behind it are now looking to the future.

They hope to stage a range of productions and as time goes on create new original works.

But they will be staging their productions in venues such as community centres, village halls and even pubs and museums as they try to take drama to the people rather than expecting the audience to venture to a theatre.

Anthony Lancashire and Adam Hart, drama teachers at Wickersley School, have big plans for the Cut-Up Theatre Company and want it to be a real community effort.

Members of Cut-up Theatre Company in rehearsal for ‘Immaculate’.

Their first show, Oliver Lansley’s adult comedy Immaculate, was performed with a cast of six at The Wesley Centre, Maltby, in March.

It was directed by Adam and Anthony was one of the cast.

But getting the theatre company and first show under way has been two years in the making.

Anthony, who is chairman of the company and produced the first show, said: “We plan to do one show a year to start with. We want to start out quite small and not be over-ambitious.

“We hope to do two or three shows a year eventually, and then original works.

Member of Cut-up Theatre Company in rehearsal for ‘Immaculate’.

“This is the first time either of us has set up a company from scratch. We do a full day’s teaching and then go home and get into drama company mode.

“It’s exciting, fun, stressful.

“The goal is to produce work of a professional standard with a love of amateur theatre.

“People can come and be part of something and feel involved.”

Anthony said that putting on the first show was helped by support from the Wesley Centre where it was staged and lighting company Chris Hamblin Lighting Solutions.

But the pair didn’t go cap in hand asking for cash to fund the production. Instead, they stumped up the cash to finance the show themselves.

“We thought it would be remiss to gamble with other people’s money if we did not risk our own first,” said Anthony.

Members of Cut-up Theatre Company in rehearsal for ‘Immaculate’.

He said that starting the project was “the lure of doing something different” and the opportunity to perform in unusual venues.

“I have been part of various different amateur theatre companies and I have enjoyed being part of every single one of them, but I always wanted to be in one which performs at alternative spaces,” said Anthony.

“People go to the Rotherham Civic because it’s the Rotherham Civic but the Wesley Centre is not an established theatrical venue.

“It gives access to people who might not be able to access theatre normally.

“Why not try and educate people about theatre?

“People can go and watch a quality show for an affordable price.”

Both Anthony and Adam have been involved in lots of amateur companies across South Yorkshire, and Anthony admitted that he had always been drawn to performance.

He said: “From a young age I have always enjoyed telling stories. I remember me and my sister dressing up as our grandparents.

“I have always loved going to the theatre and telling stories. I was always sporty and theatrical at school

Members of Cut-up Theatre Company in rehearsal for ‘Immaculate’.

“I think my mum and dad pushed me into drama.

“I am yet to find a style of performance that does not interest me. For me the best theatre is stylised and fast-paced and tells a good story.

“As an audience member I like it to take me on a journey.”

Anthony said that he hoped that more and more people would get involved in the Cut-Up Theatre Company as actors, set designers, writers or helping market productions via social media.

Anthony, who gained his Drama degree at Lincoln University, said: “I want it to grow. I want this to be a real community. We are a non-profit community theatre company.

“I would welcome people reaching out to us via social media and asking to be involved in some way.”

Anthony added that the company is aimed at people aged over 18 and that he was happy for it to work anywhere across South Yorkshire.

But he insisted that the shows would be as professional as any big theatre production.

“We pride ourselves at school of working with kids and demanding the highest standards from them so we want the highest standards of ourselves,” said Anthony.

“I don’t like the idea of things being half-hearted. If you are going to do anything you should make a good job of it.”

Members of Cut-up Theatre Company in rehearsal for ‘Immaculate’.

But Anthony is already thinking big about future shows. While they are currently limited to plays with just one set, he wanted future shows to be more adventurous.

“As it grows we can be more ambitious and have larger casts and bigger sets,” he said.

“It’s not easy to get started and we have got to keep banging on that door. You have got to keep spreading the word about it.

“There is a market for it, to do something different.

“For now it’s very much a hobby and I love my job teaching but I would not rule out running the theatre company full-time if it got big enough.

“If you are going to dream, dream big.”

Anthony admitted that he is always nervous when he goes on stage but that the nerves disappear when he gets out in front of the audience.

He said that he hoped the new theatre company’s productions would inspire his students.

“It’s nice for my students to know I have still got it and am an active practitioner,” said Anthony.

Museum offers a window into our past

by ANTONY CLAY

Clifton Park Museum – 190559-1

CLIFTON Park and Museum is an attractive green space in the heart of a bustling town.

But go inside the museum building and you will find a thoughtful and fascinating journey through the history of Rotherham.

And Rotherham does have a pretty fascinating past.

The museum also plays host to the town’s Archives collection which is a much-utilised resource for everyone to use.

Clifton Park Museum’s-two bodied cat. 190559-4

Whether it be school groups or individual visitors, the museum gets around 225,000 walking through its doors each year. The park gets a staggering two million visitors.

Clifton House was built in 1783 for Joshua and Susannah Walker and has been a museum since 1893.

It is a Grade II*-listed building full of fascinating architectural features.

Visitors can wander round the old house and see the drawing room, the kitchen, the dining room and even the servants’ stairway.

Clifton Park Museum 190559-14

Each room is carefully laid out to show off an aspect of Rotherham history or a special exhibition.

Obviously there is a lot about the Walker family but also the development of industry in Rotherham, which is of interest to any resident or visitor.

There is also the York and Lancaster Regimental Museum featuring an array of items such as uniforms, medals, letters and even poetry. It is a thought-provoking archive.

Projects and development manager Christine Evans said that the museum doesn’t stand still and is always looking to innovate.

She said: “We are constantly thinking about developing the museum.

“We think the musuem is so popular because of our events programme and the fact that it is a free local attraction. We do get a lot of local families coming. We do do really well around the school holidays.”

Clifton Park Museum’s Anderson shelter. 190559-10

There are certainly plenty of new attractions all the time. In May, for instance, Wow! Said The Owl will offer a sensory place experience for youngsters. It is well worth keeping an eye on what the museum has to offer.

Volunteers are an important part of putting on events at the museum, said Christine, with a search always on to find new people to help out.

“There will be quite a lot going on at the museum over the next year. There is some exciting news coming,” she added.

“Whenever people talk about the museum they will always talk about Nelson the Lion who has been here for a long time.”

But there is another furry favourite popular with youngsters in the form of Marco the Bear.

Also, if you touch the nose of a bust of Rotherham Channel swimmer William Burgess you are supposed to get good luck.

Clifton Park Museum 190559-11

“What is so lovely about Rotherham is that people are so passionate about its history,” said Christine.

You can find out about how local ceramics were produced, or dip into the world of Rotherham’s earliest inhabitants, or discover more about Victorian science. There really is something for everyone.

Taking a trip around the John Carr-designed building, which incidentally is symmetrical in its design and seen as a smaller version of Wentworth Woodhouse, is a great day out.

The museum at Clifton Park is a real jewel in the crown for Rotherham.

FACTFILE:
Clifton Park and Museum, Clifton Lane, Rotherham S65 2AA
Opening hours – Monday to Friday 10am-5pm; Saturdays 9.30am-5pm; Sundays 1.30-4.30pm (April to end of September), closed (October to end of March).
Website – http://cliftonpark.org.uk/museum/
Telephone – 01709 336633

A museum which shows its town’s rich history

by ANTONY CLAY

Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery

IF ever there was a museum that reflected the full history of its town or city then Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery would be it.

The extensive collection goes from the time before the dinosaurs right up to its modern sporting success.

A busy museum with plenty to see wherever you look, the Chequer Road-based establishment has been an educational and cultural base for the town since the Sixties.

In a distinctive building just off from the town centre, the museum has packed as much as it can into two floors.

Every aspect of the Doncaster area’s history is covered, from its prehistoric people to the Romans to peat extraction and coal, then onto the growth of the railway, the town’s health improvements and even the town’s famous horse racing prowess.

There is an order to it all and if you walk round in the proper way you will be taken on this long tale via innovative and attractive displays.

Duck decoy exhibit

There is a duck decoy showing how wildfowlers trapped birds when the area was more marshy than it is today. There is a coalmine display where you get a sense of the oppressive darkness surrounding a miner’s daily work. There are shop fronts and dressed-up dummies. It really thoughtful and educational.

Marvel at the silverware associated with horse racing, be amazed at a massive sturgeon or wonder at the museum’s famous skeleton – known as the Pillington Skeleton – in a coffin found at a local quarry.

A display of Yorkshire Pots and Potteries tells the tale of an aspect of Doncaster’s history which many may not be familiar with and two full-size planes – one called The Flea – indicate an aeronautical tale to tell.

The King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry Museum takes people on a journey from conflicts in India and South Africa to the horrors of the First World War. Particularly poignant is a roll of honour for the fallen from Doncaster, and a room full of medals next to pictures of their recipients.

The Flea plane

The museum has some fascinating Bygone Doncaster videos to watch, showing snatches of real life from the past. One film shows the townspeople celebrating the country’s entry into the EEC with a massive parade of floats. How times have changed.

It was the railway which made Doncaster grow from a quiet country town when a line came to the settlement in 1849, closely followed by the development of the Plant rail engineering works in 1853. By 1901 the population had doubled to 29,000 with the usual housing and health traumas that came with it, prompting the growth of religion in many forms. The museum does a great job telling this story.

The art gallery is impressive with a fair range of styles and periods of art on display, and the museum has exhibitions such as Terence Bennett: A Retrospective which runs until June 30.

Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery

Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery is well worth a visit. You can spend hours there, which isn’t bad considering it’s free.

It is set to move home next summer so make sure you see what is there now.

The Queen’s first visit to Doncaster was, apparently, to open Doncaster’s first museum and art gallery in 1964. It has certainly earned its keep since then and should be supported as a popular tourist attraction.

FACTFILE:
Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery, Chequer Road, Doncaster, DN1 2AE
Opening hours – Wednesday to Friday 10am-4.30pm; Saturday and Sunday 10.30am-4.15pm; Monday and Tuesday closed.
Website – http://www.doncaster.gov.uk/services/culture-leisure-tourism/doncaster-museum-and-art-gallery
Email – Heritage@doncaster.gov.uk
Telephone – 01302 734293

Making overtures into the classical world

by ANTONY CLAY

Tickhill Music Society members (from left to right), Sally Tyas, vice chairman; Philip Mottram, founder member, Adrian Hattrell, concert secretary, Kate Doubleday, publicity officer and Dorothy Colcutt, founder member. 190363

OFFERING beautiful classical music to everyone – that’s what Tickhill Music Society is all about.

The popular group has been calling the tune with a packed and varied annual programme for more than four decades.

Stunning singers and top quality musicians have travelled to the community to perform at St Mary’s Primary School and the parish church, many becoming big names in the classical music world.

The 2018/19 concert season has included operatic arias, piano music, trumpet tunes and a church organ recital.

But the society began pretty much by accident when a Tickhill couple’s daughter suggested holding a concert.

Coull Quartet with Philip Mottram 40th anniversary celebration concert March 2017

Society founder members Philip and Mary Mottram’s daughter Susan linked up with the Coull Quartet through a friend while studying German at university.

One day she suggested in a letter to her parents that they hold a concert for the Coull Quartet in Tickhill.

So Philip and Mary set about organising a chamber music concert in the town, including raising the funds and finding a the right venue which ended up being Tickhill Junior School.

The concert was such a success that some residents formed the society to make classical music events a regular feature of the community’s life and the rest, as they say, is history.

Quintabile Brass September 2013

The inaugural 1977/78 season featured 13 events, eight social evenings and five professional concerts.

The society’s concert secretary Adrian Hattrell, himself a founder member, said the success of the group and its longevity was largely due to the community which seems to appreciate great classical music.

“It’s the nature of the population. It’s mostly a commuter town and so I think like-minded people get together,” he said.

“When we began it was before the internet and social media so word spread around about what we were doing.”

Membership was around 148 in the early years of the society but fell around five years ago, though it has now picked up again to around 70.

Aurea Quartet May 2016

The aim is to encourage younger people to sign up though the society realises that children these days are often given little opportunity to experience classical music.

“Society members are all from a generation where music was seen as an important part of the school curriculum. But as everyone knows it has been whittled away and is almost non-existent in schools now,” said Adrian.

But he added that there is hope as young people do often attend concerts as visitors, but tend not to join up.

Indeed, people come from far afield to attend the concerts, not just Doncaster and Rotherham.

And musicians travel a long way to perform in Tickhill, some even coming from abroad.
But Adrian believes that those who have been here in the past have told their peers that musicians are looked after well when they perform in Tickhill.

He said: “The musical world is quite close knit and they talk to each other. If they have had some excellent experiences in Tickhill they will tell others.”

Doncaster Youth Stageband September 2017

The society offers excellent hospitality to its musical guests and the purchase of its own piano for £7,000 in 1999 meant it could also offer top quality equipment where needed.

And for the audience, 100 “beautiful seats” were bought to make listening to music at the school that bit more enjoyable.

The society audience appears to have distinct preferences, with piano recitals and chamber music being particularly popular. Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert works go down well, as do occasional forays into jazz.

But the varied music offered each season means there are always new experiences on offer.

Vice-chair Sally Tyas said: “We always have in a season something that challenges us. We get some surprises.”

Adrian added: “Sometimes the musicians will ask if our audience can cope with what they will be performing and I say yes.”

Sally said that the ethos of the club has always been to be friendly. Concerts always start on time and the audience is respectfully quiet during performances.

Kosmos Ensemble March 2018

Many young musicians play in Tickhill during the early part of their careers and some have gone on to international fame, such as trumpet player Alison Balsom, pianist Melvyn Tan and soprano Emma Kirkby.

Sally said that despite concerns over future membership, she was optimistic about the society’s future.

She said: “We are always trying to get new members. We are desperate for it to carry on. To be able to go out and listen to top music in your town, it’s wonderful.

“When there have been concerns over the future, miraculously someone has always appeared to help.

“The worry is what will happen when most of the committee have to finish without young people coming up. But people will appear like they have done in he past.

“It’s a special society.”

Publicity officer Kate Doubleday said that anyone new attending concerts is encouraged to join and leaflets about the society’s events are distributed widely, such as at venues like Doncaster’s Cast Theatre.

Bel Canto 16th September 2016

“World of mouth has proved effective,” she said.
Founder member Philip Mottram still takes an interest in the society and attends as many concerts as he can.

Aged 95, he was made an honorary member of the society a number of years ago in recognition of him starting it off in the first place.

He believes that Tickhill Music Society has a bright future ahead of it.

“I think it’s a great achievement,” he said.

“I am pleased that it has carried on. I think that it has become quite an institution in Tickhill. Long may that continue.

“We have always tried to get some of the top musicians.

“We have had all sorts of music performed. We have even had Indian music.

“The society has been a great success.

“I think we have got a very good committee and an extremely competent concert secretary and I’m hoping it will go on.”

FACT FILE:
Website – http://www.tickhillmusicsociety.org,
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/tickhillmusicsociety
Twitter – @TickhillMusic
Membership – David Doubleday 01302 745785 or daviddd837@googlemail.com

Exhibition offers up some comic relief

by ANTONY CLAY

AN art gallery has been transformed into a massive comic strip for a new exhibition.


Scribble, Doodle and Draw is being held at Doncaster’s The Point gallery until July 20.


The exhibition showcases giant original works created onsite by comic illustrators Jim Medway, Ed Syder and Tor Freeman.


It also gives visitors the opportunity to create their own comics and add them to the exhibition.


There are plenty of fun activities to take part in as well as comfy chairs in which you can relax and read comic books.


The Point in on South Parade in Doncaster and is open 10am to 4pm Monday and Friday, 10am to 7pm Tuesday to Thursday, and 9am to 1.30pm on Saturday.


Twelve-year-old Rufus and Wilf (seven) visited the exhibition on its opening day and said they enjoyed the experience.


Wilf said: “I liked that you could make your own comics for the exhibition.


“I spent ages reading comics upstairs.”


He said that his favourite part of the exhibition was “the big comics on the walls”.


Rufus enjoyed the giant comics. He said: “They were really funny and the artists’ ideas were very clever.”


He added that his favourite part was “the activities room because of the range of activities available”.


Rufus said that once he had created his own comic and put it on the wall “it felt really good to see my work up there as everyone can be part of the exhibition. I think that there should be more exhibitions like this around to celebrate different artists’ work. It was brilliant.”

It’s a life of letters for stallholder

by ANTONY CLAY

Mike and Lorna Smithson of Mike’s Famous Book Stall.

BOOKS are still as popular today as they have ever been, according to Rotherham’s longest-standing seller of top quality tomes.

Mike Smithson, who runs Mike’s Famous Bookstall at the town’s Indoor Market, said that customers are as keen to browse and buy today as they have ever been.

Tastes have changed over the years, and new authors have come to the fore, but Mike said that readers are increasingly sticking with physical paper books and shifting away from e-readers.

And that trend is official. Mike said he was recently told at a major publishing event that computerised book sales are actually falling.

Not that Mike’s stall just limits itself to books. You can also find greetings cards, stationery, and even jigsaws for sale.

Mike, who runs the Rotherham stall with his wife Lorna, started in business back in August 1984 – and still has the first two pound notes from his first day as souvenirs.

Back in the day, Mike ran ten stalls spread as far apart as Leeds, Sheffield and Mansfield but today has just two other businesses in Barnsley’s new £120 million market and Mexborough’s indoor market.

He also has a Doncaster outlet selling books online.

Whether you fancy a thriller or a romance, a history text or a children’s book, a Bible or a comedy, Mike has stacked his shelves with an impressive display of publications by an array of authors.

“I think people read as much now as they used to do,” said Mike.

“We get younger people at the stall and 20-year-olds but a lot of older people as well because when they have retired they have more time to read,.

“Ladies have always read more than men.”

Tastes have changed over the years as well, particularly with female readers, said Mike.

He said that traditionally, women would have gone for romances but now they are as likely to snap up thrillers by the like of James Patterson, Lee Child and Andy McNab as male readers.

Having said that, Mills and Boon books are still bestsellers for Mike, particularly since he offers a book exchange deal giving back half the price of a book once it’s been read.

His best-selling book is Black Diamonds by Catherine Bailey which tells the tale of the Fitzwilliam family who inhabited Wentworth Woodhouse.

In fact, Mike said that books about the local area always sell very well, both with people who live in the area and with visitors.

Whether it be the reminiscences of former Attercliffe bobby Martyn Johnson or books on coalmining, the area’s past or steam engines, books about this part of the world fly off the shelves.

“We try to change things if something becomes popular,” said Mike.

He said that he liked to help customers find new writers when they visit his stall. He said that he could point people to new authors ploughing a similar furrow to a reader’s usual favourites.

And Mike knows what he is talking about because he likes to become engrossed in a good book himself.

“I like thrillers and autobiographies and true stories,” said Mike.

The books on sale at Mike’s Famous Bookstall are a mixture of new and used, and he said he can order any book in print if a customer asks for a hard-to-find title.

Mike believes that the success of his Rotherham stall in particular is because of its location in the town’s Indoor Market which he sees as a popular shopping destination.

In fact, Mike blows the trumpet for Rotherham as a whole and said it is still a great place to visit and shop, as well as to be a business person.

He said: “People still use the market in large numbers.

“I don’t think Rotherham is going downhill. The bus station being back in use now will make a big difference.

“The town has got lots of individual enterprise.”

Mike said he hoped to “carry on” selling books to people for a long time yet – and was not averse to increasing his portfolio as well.

“If there are any opportunities to open new stalls I will do,” he said.

“We do sell online but people do still like to come out and see what there is.”

It is good to know that people still love books, even in the face of all sorts of alternative distractions like the internet, TV and music.

People have been browsing through a good book as far back as the times of Chaucer, Shakespeare and Dickens and it is good to know that Mike is still encouraging people on that literary path.