Some history of Anston
Anston is a large village (using the definition of a village as a single parish) but is probably better described as a small township. The present population is between 10,000 and 12,000. Anston has its own parish council but most local services are provided by the Metropolitan Borough of Rotherham in the County of South Yorkshire. Anston is located 13 miles east of Sheffield, 10 miles southeast of Rotherham amd 7 miles west of Worksop. The A57 trunk road passes through South Anston. Although Anston is a single parish there are two distinct areas called North Anston and South Anston. Many residents prefer to use these names for their postal address rather than just Anston which is the official name used by the Post Office. There is sometimes confusion with the nearby village of Aston because of the similarity of name.
North Anston appears in The Domesday Book (1086) as Anestan and South Anston as Litelanstan. There is some debate as to whether this Saxon name might refer to a local feature known as "One Stone". Along with most settlements in the present South Yorkshire the first inhabitants would have been Anglo-Saxon. The lands are listed as belonging to Roger de Busli, a Norman knight, the lands being taken from their previous owner, Edwin (an Earl of Mercia), by William the Conqueror to reward his supporters.
The attraction of North Anston as a site for settlement came from the spring of water (now known as The Wells) in the hillside just north of the River Ryton (known locally as Anston Brook). South Anston is similarly located on a hillside on the south side of Anston Brook. The river between the two settlements was easily forded and later crossed by a stone bridge (Anston Bridge). The light and well-drained soil made good agricultural land. The local limestone rock was ideal for buildings and used not only in Anston, but also at a much later date for the Houses of Parliament and the Geological Museum in London in the 19th century. The best local example is the parish church of St James in South Anston. Its commanding position makes it readily visible to the approaching traveller. The oldest part of the church is the nave which dates from the 12th century. This was extended by the addition of the north aisle in the 13th, the south aisle and the new chancel in the 14th and the tower in the 15th century. The style of achitecture is mainly Early English. The Victorians reordered the interior and added the porch. Today's generation is responsible for further internal reordering and for the meeting room extension. When first built the church was a chapel to the church at Laughton en le Morthen, which continued to make the provision of a chaplain until the ecclesiastical parish of Anston was formed in the 1860s.
Other buildings of note to be found in South Anston are the Manor House and the Methodist church. Some may also appreciate the Loyal Trooper pub which was once a farmhouse. In North Anston there is Anston Hall (now partitioned into small units) and some fine houses on Main Street and Hillside. Also in North Anston is The Wells, a feature restored and maintained by Anston Conservation Society.
Farming and quarrying were the main activities in Anston until the development of coal mining in the area at the beginning of the 20th century which saw collieries open at Kiveton Park, Dinnington and South Anston (Harry Crofts). Railways were built to serve this part of the 'concealed' coalfield, with the railway to Dinnington Colliery passing through Anston opening in 1904. Anston's population began to increase at that time but not as rapidly as those village more directly affected by the collieries e.g. Dinnington. Anston's rapid growth started in the 1950s with the building of a large council estate in North Anston. This was followed by considerable private development in the 1960s onwards which eventually saw a 4-fold increase in population. New schools, shops and pubs were built to cater for the 'new comers'. The green fields that once separated Dinnington, North Anston and South Anston, have now all but gone to give a continuous built-up area. Most residents work in the neighbouring towns such as Sheffield or Rotherham, making Anston a 'dormitory' town with few residents taking an interest in its history or working to maintain its identity. Those qualities that attracted people to settle in Anston in the first place are being destroyed.
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