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The Rother Valley constituency has, in various geographic incarnations, been contested since 1918, and has had just five Members of Parliament.Thomas Grundy (1918-1935)
Edward Dunn (1935-1945)
David Griffiths (1945-1970)
Peter Hardy (1970-1983)
Kevin Barron (1983-present)
In the General Election of 1918 the Labour candidate Thomas Grundy
became the first MP for the Rother Valley.
Born in Greasbrough in 1864, Grundy worked for a market gardener, selling plants in Rotherham market, and in a brickyard before becoming a miner. During his time at various collieries he became active in the Yorkshire Miners’ Association (YMA) and was elected checkweighman at Rotherham Main. He was a member of Rotherham Council from 1900 to 1920, originally as a Liberal before the formation of the Labour Party and in 1915 became the first Labour Mayor of Rotherham. Then in 1918 ‘Old Tom’ became the first Rotherham born man to sit in Parliament, where he mainly spoke about coal mining issues. He died in 1942.
Grundy was succeeded in 1935 by his former election agent and the secretary of the Rother Valley
Labour Party, Edward Dunn
Born in Worcestershire in 1880, Dunn moved to South Yorkshire with his family at an early age. Educated in Kiveton Park, he began work at the village’s colliery before moving to Maltby in 1911. He became checkweighman at Maltby Main and soon rose through the ranks of the YMA, sitting as their representative on the Executive Committee of the Miners’ Federation of Great Britain. He was also one of the committee appointed to administer the relief fund set up in aid of the 27 miners killed in an explosion at Maltby Main in 1923.
Having sat on Maltby Parish Council (being Chair for many years), he served on Maltby Urban District Council and Rotherham Rural District Council as well as leading the Labour Group on the West Riding County Council. Dunn played a prominent role in housing development and was instrumental in ensuring Maltby housing estates became some of the best in Northern England. He was also one of the founders of Maltby OAPs Association and Chairman of the governors of Maltby Grammar School. His time in Parliament largely coincided with the Second World War and in 1942 he served as PPS to Arthur Henderson Jr in the War Office.
When he died in 1945 messages of sympathy were sent from giants of the Labour movement such as Clement Attlee, Herbert Morrison, Ernest Bevin and Arthur Greenwood. Attending his funeral at Maltby Parish Church were representatives from the YMA, MFGB, Labour Party and Opposition front bench. As his funeral procession made its way through the village, miners doffed their caps at the corner of the Queens Hotel. Held in such esteem by the mining community, his portrait was put on the Maltby miners’ banners.
Despite Dunn's death in office, no by-election took place because the 1945 General Election was to be held a few months later, at which David Griffiths
was duly elected.
Born in Goldthorpe in 1896, the former Hickleton Main mineworker was a union official who had served with the Royal Artillery during the First World War. He was a member of Dearne Urban District Council for many years before entering Parliament.
Successful at seven general elections, when elected in 1966 he had the third largest majority in the country. During his time at Westminster he served on the Fuel Select Committee for 20 years and was Chair of the Yorkshire Group of Labour MPs for 14 years. He was also a member of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for nine years until 1970 when he retired at that year’s General Election. He died in 1977 and his funeral was held in Whiston, where he had been resident for a number of years.
Born in 1931, the son of a miner, local teacher Peter Hardy
entered Parliament in 1970 after previously standing unsuccessfully in a number of safe Conservative seats. He had a keen interest in wildlife and
served as PPS to two Foreign Secretaries, Tony Crosland and David Owen.
In 1983, when the Rother Valley constituency was split into two he moved to the recreated Wentworth constituency, for which he was MP until his retirement from the House of Commons in 1997. On retirement he was made a life peer as Baron Hardy of Wath and was an active member of the House of Lords until shortly before his death in 2003 at the age of 72.
Kevin Barron succeeded Peter Hardy in 1983 and has now become the longest serving Rother Valley MP ever.
In the 2015 General Election, Kevin was elected with a majority of 7,297 having won 43.6% of the vote. The UK Independence Party came second with 28.1% of the vote, the Conservatives were third (23.3%), the Liberal Democrats fourth (4.2%) and the English Democrats fifth (0.8%).
(The above photographs are reproduced with the kind permission of the Rotherham Advertiser)