(Information kindly supplied by Giles Bloomer)
It is apparent that the road to Rawmarsh was never one of the most visually attractive parts of Rotherham. John Guest in his ‘Historic Notices of Rotherham’ refers to a willow girded quagmire and wild wilderness called “Thistlebed Ford”. No doubt the land here was cheap and this probably induced Henry Aizlewood to locate his business in what became known as Aizlewood’s Fields.
Henry Aizlewood started in business in 1870 as a lime burner with a small ‘Newcastle’ lime burner and two coke producing kilns on his Rawmarsh Road premises. The limestone used was quarried in Doncaster and the finished product, ‘Aizlewoods Polishing Lime’ was well known throughout the motor and silver trades. One of the largest users of the lime was Nottingham cycle manufacturers Raleigh Limited.
As a side line of the manufacturing process Aizlewoods had always sold aggregates and paving slabs, but it was not until after incorporation in October 1940 that the intention ‘to supply building materials’ became part of the company’s aims. Following the end of world war two, the demand for building materials was such that Aizlewoods began to develop this side of the business more than the lime manufacturer.
Environmental concerns in the 1950s also played a part in the decline of Aizlewoods as lime burners. The combination of coal and the method in which it was used in the Aizlewood process, produced a plume of thick dark smoke which was unhealthy and unattractive. The local Smoke Abatement Society referred to that ‘vicious little chimney on Rawmarsh Road’ Subsequent legislation made the process of burning uneconomical and this, together with the success of the building materials supply side, led to the phasing out of lime production by the mid 1960s. The last ‘Newcastle’ kiln was demolished in 1975.
Henry himself led the firm until the early years of the 20th century, when he was succeeded by his son John. Henry had five other sons and three daughters. Only one of the other sons, Sidney Herbert was involved with the firm.
Prominent amongst Henry’s sons was Percy, who was a councillor in Rotherham between 1903 and 1938 and Mayor of Rotherham on three separate occasions. In an interesting parallel, Percy was “Feoffee” of the common lands of Rotherham
Although future generations did not bear the family name, members of the family were involved with the firm until towards the end of the 20th Century.