The first written reference to Wath is in the Domesday Book of 1086, when Wath
and its local settlements farmed some 2,700 acres of land. From that prosperous
agricultural base there developed tanning, brewing, milling and weaving. Other
trades included boot-maker, hatter, wheelwright, carpenter and blacksmith. Coal
mining had developed by the 17th. century and became increasingly important, but
was not dominant until after 1870.
Throughout the centuries careful thought was given to efficient cultivation of
the great open-fields rising to the south of the village. For example, in
October 1697 the manorial court agreed that all should erect good fences around
the hard corn field, or be fined one shilling for each rood (5 metres) unfenced.
Landowners such as the Earl Fitzwilliam regulated mining in Wath Wood by
allowing only one bell-pit to be worked at a time, insisting that the surface be
In 1739 the Earl of Malton leased 60 acres of land in Wath to Robert Fenton for
£27.7s.6d per year. If Fenton grew corn or grain for more than four successive
years without a crop of turnips or a fallow year, then he had to pay an extra £5
per acre. Fenton was an important farmer with 20 parcels of land among the ings
and moors between the village and the river Dearne; 10 parcels in the Upper
Field; 11 in the Sandygate Field and 14 in the Far Field. By the time Thomas Gee
carried out the enclosure award in 1814 the 3 great arable fields contained more
than 1,000 separate strips of land.
Our first record of coal mining is a tragic entry in the parish register for
12th September, 1606:
Buried Jo Beamonte Kyld in Addy
Such was the value of coal that it led to the building of the Dearne and Dove
canal in the 1790s so that vast coal reserves could be exploited. Helped by the
development of canal and railway, industrialisation of the Dearne Valley
accelerated during the early 19th century. By 1825 a pottery (Twigg Brothers)
was established at Newhill and in 1844-45 gas lighting came to Wath’s streets.
Yet, until deep mining developed after 1870 the village’s total population grew
1801 - 662
1871 - 2023
1901 - 8515
Map by J.C. Harvey