After the Walker family left their Holmes premises, Matthew Habershon, who had witnessed Samuel Walker’s will and who had been employed by the Walker family, leased the Holmes Works. The current owners at that time were the Don Navigation, who had bought the premises from the Walkers.
Matthew Habershon died in 1841 and his obituary stated that “his mind was stored with solid acquirements in various departments of literature and science, particularly mathematics, his mental powers being active and vigorous and his habits studious“.
In 1829 Matthew, his and sons Joseph Jones Habershon and Henry Habershon had taken a further lease on the Holmes Works and converted the premises into a steel rolling mill, specialising in the cold rolling of steel.
Their early products included a special steel for the manufacture of sickles for the Caribbean sugar industry. They also produced thin hard cold rolled steel for the pen nib industries in the Midlands. Steel for crinoline hoops and corset springs was also manufactured.
After John Jospeh’s retirement from the business in 1851 his eldest surviving son John Matthew Habershon continued to run the firm, joined for a time by his cousin Matthew Henry Habershon, the son of Henry Habershon.
The family home at this time was Ferham House and John Matthew Habershon became a staunch supporter of the nearby Masbrough Independent Chapel. He was also active in local politics and was a member of the Rotherham and Kimberworth Board of Health and vice president of the liberal association .
In 1871, after leading the campaign for the incorporation of Rotherham, he became Rotherham’s first mayor, serving for two terms.
J M Habershon died in 1894 from pericarditis brought on by overexertion.
Alfrex Rix Habershon, grandson of John Matthew Habershon joined the firm in 1898 and became mayor in 1922.
The firm continued as a family business until 1920. The company went on experiment with stainless steel, which had been invented in Sheffield in 1913. Their experiments proved successful and they produced stainless steel girdles which were used to strengthen the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral. They also produced the whole of the stainless steel that formed the tubular girders for the airship R101 constructed in 1926.
The company continued and had connections with the aeronautical industry through their production of hot and cold rolled steel.
In 1958 adjoining premises were acquired, but the buildings including portico described by John Guest as handsome enough for a palace was demolished despite protests. A temporary preservation order had been placed on the gateway until a new home could be found for it. Suggestions included CloughWilliam-Ellis‘s Village of Port Merion .
Another suggestion was it should be relocated to an island in Clifton Park as part of a proposed boating lake. However the £14,000 needed to dismantle the gateway could not found by the Council and it was demolished in 1969.
Habershons finally closed 1981.