Pillar of Light Conclave History


In the 1st century AD the Romans built a fort by the river Rother and in time civilians moved nearby and a little town grew up, however when the soldiers left Britain in 407 AD the settlements were abandoned.

Modern Rotherham was founded by a group of people called the Angles. They started a settlement called Rother ham, which means the village by the Rother and according to the Domesday Book in 1086 Rotherham was a small village with a probable population of less than 100. Yet by the 13th century Rotherham had grown into a little town holding weekly markets and annual fairs.

In 1483 the College of Jesus was founded by Thomas Rotherham, the Archbishop of York giving education to poor boys of the town. It eventually closed in 1547 but the education of boys continued via a grammar school and in 1483 the famous Rotherham Chantry Chapel was built.

After surviving the Civil War in 1642 in the hands of the Royalists, it continued to grow and became a centre for Iron production especial as in 1740 the canal network reached Rotherham allowing the transportation of coal from the surrounding areas and as a result the Iron industry boomed


Like many towns in the North of England Rotherham, the Industrial Revolution brought substantial growth and by 1801 its population was over 6,000. By the standards of the time Rotherham was considered a medium sized town.

An outbreak of Cholera in 1832 prompted the formation of the Rotherham water company and the town gained gas lighting in 1833. The next years saw significant milestones when the railway reached Rotherham in 1838, Rotherham Hospital opened in 1872. In 1871 Rotherham was made a borough with a mayor and corporation. Boston Park opened in 1876, followed by Clifton Park 1891; Clifton Park Museum opened in Rotherham in 1893 and finally the first public library in Rotherham opened in 1887.


In 1901 Rotherham was still flourishing and the population of the town was approx. 61,000 but still dominated by the steel industry despite the depression of the 1930s. Other industries, such as the glass and agriculture, also flourished in the area.  In 1903, electric trams ran in the streets of Rotherham and in 1911 the town gained its first cinema.

Rotherham entered the record books in the 1970’s with the Templeborough steelworks Hot Mill plant achieving its highest output of 425,000 tons in one year, reflecting a general boom in the steel industry in the early 1970s. During this period, other records were set with one shift producing 1,099 tons of steel on a shift on 25 January 1974, which also gave a daily record of 2,815 tons produced. November 1972 saw the highest production for one week at 11,486 tons. No other steel plant in the world could match the sheer volume of production from the Rotherham works.

Unfortunately, the general decline of the coal and steel industries in the 1980 has left Rotherham now relying more on service than heavy industries.

The work hard mentality of Rotherham has, however, been passed through to its football and Rugby union clubs, the latter being the most successful club in rugby union history achieving 10 promotions in 11 seasons.

2007 saw major flooding in the town and surrounding areas with a potential dam breach at Ulley reservoir closing the M1 motorway for 3 successive days and causing the evacuation of many homes in the area. Thankfully the pressure on the dam wall was reduced by the huge pumps of the fire service and a major disaster was averted.

Despite recent bad news stories, Rotherham remains a vibrant town building on its proud Industrial past with major new 21st century business in engine and aerospace technologies.


The Pillar of Light Conclave No. 370 was Founded and Consecrated in1982 by a group of largely Sheffield Masons, such as Roger Cooke, Trevor Hughes, Dennis Webb, George Gummer and Ralph Hudson.

It was laughingly said that the formation of our Conclave brought Christianity to Rotherham, as at the time there was only the Craft and the Royal Arch functioning in the Masonic Hall. Over the years the Conclave has flourished, producing some notable “high ranking” celebrities from amongst our midst –  although most sadly demised. John Clifford, (K.C.C), became the 7th Intendant-General of the West Yorkshire Division; Roger Cooke was Deputy Intendant-General and Trevor Hughes served as Divisional Marshall for several years going on to be Divisional Viceroy.

In more recent years, as with other Conclaves, the Pillar of Light Conclave has seen a reduction in the number of new initiates, however with the pending membership of the Deputy Intendant General (Ill. Knight Dr. Raymond Johnson) we may have just turned the corner and when coupled with the passion of it’s members the Conclave should continue to deliver Christianity to masons in Rotherham for many years to come.