Sir Charles Stoddard
Charles John Stoddard became assistant secretary at the Parkgate Ironworks when, in 1864, it became a limited company. He had risen from the position of office boy at the London office and was to serve the company for over 50 years finally becoming managing director of the Company.
The Parkgate Iron and Steel Company Limited initially had a share value of £150,000 and stocks of iron and raw materials valued at £56,858.
Charles Stoddard held the position of Mayor of Rotherham three times and became Rotherham’s jubilee Mayor in 1886, after a long battle with Cllr John Mason. The count being equal, it fell upon the retiring Mayor and chairman, W H Gummer to give the casting vote.
Although a liberal, Cllr Gummer declared that “he was giving his vote to the Conservative candidate as he considered Cllr Stoddard to be a man with sound business training with a long outlook of progressive spirit, the qualities needed in the town’s chief magistrate”.
As a councillor Charles Stoddard took the view, however that imperial politics should not enter into local affairs. However it was felt political bias prevented him being appointed Alderman of the town and in 1889 he resigned from the council. He was, however, described as the town’s greatest benefactor.
A year earlier, Charles Stoddard had been appointed Commander of the Rotherham detachment of the 2nd VB of the Yorkshire and Lancashire Regiment..
In 1902 he presented the mace to Rotherham Council and also a naval gun three years later.
The Chapel on the Bridge became a tobacconist shop in 1888 and there was much consternation and opposition to its use for commercial purposes. In 1901 a petition was signed by 1,000 inhabitants of Rotherham and presented to the Feoffees asking them to restore and reconsecrate the chapel. Just before his death Charles Stoddard bought the tobacconist business and closed the shop down. It was his intention to have the chapel repaired but unfortunately he did not live to see any repairs carried out.
He did however bequeath the following legacies to the Parish:
“To the Vicar and Churchwardens of Rotherham the sum of £1,500 to be applied in like manner for the augmentation of the living of the said Parish. To the last named vicar and Church Wardens the further sum of £500 to be invested and the income applied in or onwards maintaining the services in the Chapel on the Bridge which I have recently repaired“.
Charles Stoddard was also responsible for the tower and spire and a peal of bells which were added to St Stephen’s Church, Eastwood and in memory of his wife paid for a stained glass window for the church.
On the sporting scene, Charles Stoddard was the first president of the original Rotherham football club, and in 1907 he became the first Freeman of Rotherham; an honour which has only been bestowed on a select number of recipients.
After leaving Parkgate House he moved into Blenheim House on Doncaster Road which was built for him in the late 19th Century. Charles Stoddard became Rotherham’s first knight in 1911 and died two years later in 1913.