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Rotherham Town Centre

The centre of Rotherham is a compact, hilly area which doesn't take you long to walk around. The outdoor and indoor markets were moved from their old traditional site not far from Rotherham Minster on Domine Lane and Market Street thirty years odd ago and the focus of the town moved north eastwards too. For many years Rotherham was your traditional busy market town with department stores and a wide variety of shops selling just about anything. Sadly within the last twenty to thirty years this has changed. The virtual death of the coal industry in the 1970s combined with the decline in the traditional heavy industries which had been the mainstay of the town left much unemployment and poverty in their wake. This period also saw the closure of the Co-op, Muntus' and John Speed's Department stores and innumerable other long-standing traditional businesses. The centre of Rotherham today is only a pale shadow of a once thriving town. Pedestrianisation, anti–car policies, the development of Parkgate Shopping and the huge mall at Meadowhall have all contributed to its decline, as have the changes in people's shopping habits.

So besides the charity shops, hairdressers, building societies, mobile phone shops and card shops what is there in Rotherham in the 21st Century? The only 'BIG' names left in town are Wilkinson, Boots, WH Smith and Tesco.

Food Shops

For a town and borough the size of Rotherham you are strictly limited with your choice of food shops. The presence of the Tesco supermarket in town and the convenience of nearby Morrisons and Asda stores, not to mention Lidl, have obviously taken a deal of the food trade.

There is a very healthy selection of bakers, some local and some nationwide chains which must keep going on the back of the sandwich trade. Except for two shops, butchers are confined to the Market Hall and most supply the sort of pre-packaged meat customers are used to picking up in the supermarket and who can blame them! There's one cheese stall in the market but the French would flinch at it. There is one fish stall in the market with a very limited range of fresh fish; also a lad who stands in the outside market. There is one wine and spirits merchant with a very poor choice of anything other than the popular brands. If you are looking for something special in any of these lines you won't get them here. There are excellent fruit and vegetables stalls in the market hall and the outside market.

In September 2010 Shocolat, a high-quality chocolatier, patisserie and coffee shop opened on Corporation Street: it was flooded out for awhile but was open last time I passed by. If you stroll up Wellgate there is a Polish shop but I haven't tried it. There may be more, its a while since I've strolled that way. In 2009 a 'delicatessen' opened in the Market Hall so I gave it a whirl before Christmas: basically it is a cooked meat stall so don't be deceived by the name.

Music Shops

The musical life of Rotherham is very healthy indeed and the town still manages to maintain a few specialist music shops. Street Life Musical Retail Limited in The Guardian Centre (balcony level above the market), and The Piano & Drum Centre which is in an old chapel right out on Westgate/Canklow Road which is stretching a point. Guitar Bazaar is on the part of Effingham Street on the far side of the flyover which is stretching another point.

Clothes Shops

There are all sorts of cheap clothing shops in town, Primark, Internaçionale. Several new clothes shops opened in the re-vamped Imperial Buildings on the corner of High Street and Corporation Street but Yella Brick Road seems to the only one still open in 2012. There were also some very nice clothes shops indeed on Wellgate but the last time I went this way some of them had gone.

There are also several bridal shops in town if you are after that special wedding dress, or outfit. Some may provide hat hire. I think some of them hire out men's formal clothes.

Shoe Shops

Hambys is the only class shoe retailer in town. It has moved from the top of High Street to a refitted shop further down High Street. There are a number of budget shoe shops in town, and stalls both in the inside and outside markets.

Arts & Crafts

Part of The Imperial Buildings have reopened as an Arts Hub and there were various arts and crafts stalls there. By 2012 most of them have closed. For craft supplies The Range (old Focus DIY) seems to have a decent range.

Page amended June 14

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