Netting a prime country retreat

Long history: Tata Steel's Swinden Technology Centre with Swinden House - formerly the Red House - in the foreground, beside the tennis courts and sports pitch. Sitwell House is at the rear, behind the laboratories, built around 1960.
Long history: Tata Steel's Swinden Technology Centre with Swinden House - formerly the Red House - in the foreground, beside the tennis courts and sports pitch. Sitwell House is at the rear, behind the laboratories, built around 1960.
0
Have your say

Tennis courts, a sports pitch and a pair of Victorian country mansions aren’t exactly what you might expect to find gracing a hot bed of scientific research.

The mansions date back to 1877, when Rotherham solicitor Thomas Badge acquired a parcel of land at Moorgate, which had previously been owned by the Duke of Norfolk, the Sitwell family and then iron foundry owner James Yates.

Badger built three homes on the land – for himself, his sister and her husband’s brother, who was also a partner in his law firm – but the family idyll only lasted five years.

Aged 34, Badger fled the country, leaving his law firm with heavy liabilities, which prompted the sale of two of the homes which are now part of the Swinden Technology Centre.

Badger’s former home – known as Red House – was bought by Masborough foundry owner William Micklethwaite, before passing into the hands of the National Fire Service during the Second World War.

United Steels acquired the property in 1946, turning it into the headquarters of its research operations before renaming it Swinden House, after its first research director, Dr Thomas Swinden.

The steelmaker acquired the second former mansion – Sitwell House – and went on to construct purpose-built laboratories on the site.

Swinden Labs – as the site became known - passed into the hands of British Steel on nationalisation, then Corus, and now Tata.

At its height, in 1969, the laboratories employed 550 people. Today, the number is around 200, but is increasing as Tata Steel continues to build up its capabilities.