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Rotherham Main Colliery was situated in Canklow, about 0.5 miles south of Rotherham town centre in the Rother Valley. The area was the site of an ancient crossing of the river set below the crag on which were Canklow Woods, an ancient woodland area.
The first shaft was commenced in 1890 with the pit going into production in 1894. The owners of the colliery and later the coke ovens and by-products plant were Sheffield-based steel makers John Brown and Co who also built houses for their workers and a school for the children of the colliers.