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South Yorkshire (England)

Ceremonial English County

Last modified: 2021-04-17 by rob raeside
Keywords: england | south yorkshire |
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[flag of South Yorkshire] image by Pete Loeser, 28 February 2021
based on this photo.

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Introduction: South Yorkshire

South Yorkshire is both a ceremonial county and a metropolitan county. It comprises four metropolitan boroughs: Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham, and Sheffield. It lies mostly within the historic county of Yorkshire. South Yorkshire was created in 1974 as a result of the Local Government Act of 1972. It is located on the east side of the Pennines and is landlocked and surrounded by Derbyshire, West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, East Riding of Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, and Nottinghamshire. Its largest settlement is its county town of Sheffield with over half of the county's population living there. The South Yorkshire County Council was abolished in 1986 and its metropolitan boroughs are now independent unitary authorities, although strangely the metropolitan county itself continues to exist in law. As a ceremonial county, South Yorkshire has a Lord Lieutenant and a High Sheriff.
Although the modern county of South Yorkshire was not created until 1974, its history goes back to prehistoric times. In the northern part of the county there are ancient remains including a Mesolithic circle of stones dating back to around 8000 BCE. Like most British counties South Yorkshire can trace its history and archaeology through the Roman occupation, to the Anglo-Saxon invasions, and later to the Viking raids and the end of the Middle Ages. With the arrival of the Normans, South Yorkshire became a land of more than 12 castles, most of which have more or less disappeared. Most them were no-nonsense fortresses built by the Norman nobles to maintain control of their freshly conquered lands. They usually selected hilltop sites for their motte and bailey forts which were initially made of wood. They were ideal for keeping an eye on potential revolts among the Anglo-Saxon and Viking natives. Once Norman control had been consolidated some of these timber castles were replaced by stone fortresses with, and sometimes without, the king's approval.
The founding of religious houses such as Roche Abbey and Monk Bretton Priory, and the rise of "new towns" such as Doncaster and Rotherham soon followed, but we have no firm evidence that any of South Yorkshire's medieval towns had been founded before the Norman Conquest. We do know that by the end of the twelfth century six towns existed in South Yorkshire. These were Barnsley, Bawtry, Doncaster, Rotherham, Sheffield, and Tickhill.
With the advent of the Industrial Revolution the main settlements grew up around mining. The first main mining industry was coal which was concentrated to the north and east of the county. There were also iron deposits which were mined in the area which eventually led to the growing steel manufacturing. The rivers running off the Pennines to the west of the county the steel industry, especially that concentrated in the city of Sheffield. The proximity of the iron and coal also made this an ideal place for steel production.
In the 19th century the arrival of railways stimulated the region's industrial growth. The Don valley became the focus of a belt of ironworks and steelworks extending eastward from Sheffield. South Yorkshire included most of England's main coal fields, but the mining declined dramatically in the late 20th century.
Today light manufacturing, research and development, food processing, and service activities have compensated somewhat for the loss of employment in mining and heavy industry. A growing tourist industry also is helping the economy of the area.
Pete Loeser, 28 February 2021


Description of the South Yorkshire Flag

The unofficial flag design for South Yorkshire depicted at the top of the page shows a traditional white Yorkshire rose, sometimes refer to as a Yemen White Rose, with the letters "S" and "Y" (standing for "South Yorkshire") below apparently forming either the leaf or stem for the rose. Perhaps the wavy white line separating the two backgrounds is representing the Don River flowing across the county?
Unfortunately, although this flag is being used, an explanation for its design, or information on who designed it, is sadly missing.
Pete Loeser, 28 February 2021


South Yorkshire Logo

[flag of South Yorkshire image by Pete Loeser, 28 February 2021

This is the most common South Yorkshire logo in use presently, but since the South Yorkshire County Council no longer exists it is completely unofficial and used freely in the county. South Yorkshire is now a geographic, metropolitan, and ceremonial county without administrative authority. In 1986 the metropolitan county lost its administrative powers, and its constituent boroughs became autonomous administrative or unitary authorities.
Pete Loeser, 28 February 2021


South Yorkshire Flag
Manufacturer's Variants

[flag of South Yorkshire image by Pete Loeser, 28 February 2021
based on this photo.

The South Yorkshire Flag has never been officially adopted or registered with the Flag Institute. Because of this, there have been a several manufacturer's variants on the market, with a variety of differences, especially in the purple/pink colors used on the bottom background field and the waving white river band separating the two major elements of the flag.
Pete Loeser, 28 February 2021

[flag of South Yorkshire     [flag of South Yorkshire images by Pete Loeser, 28 February 2021

[flag of South Yorkshire image by John Cartledge, 6 March 2021

I have a small paper flag distributed by the county council as part of its unsuccessful campaign against its abolition in 1986. I would assume that this gave its colours a measure of official recognition at that time. Here is a scan of the reverse side (note that the letters are not reversed).
John Cartledge, 6 March 2021


South Yorkshire Banner of Arms
Former South Yorkshire County Council Flag

[flag of South Yorkshire image by Pete Loeser, 28 February 2021
based on this photo.

This South Yorkshire Banner of Arms served as the Former South Yorkshire County Council (SYCC) Flag between 1974-1986. For the short 12-year period of time that the SYCC existed it was responsible for the county roads, public transportation, planning, emergency services and waste disposal. Following the Local Government Act 1985 its powers were transferred to the four metropolitan borough councils of South Yorkshire: The Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, The Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council, The Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and the Sheffield City Council.
Pete Loeser, 28 February 2021


South Yorkshire County Council Coat of Arms

[flag of South Yorkshire image located by Pete Loeser, 28 February 2021.

The South Yorkshire County Council arms were officially granted in 1978. "The armorial bearings of South Yorkshire County Council cast a colourful light on the area's traditions and economy. The black diamonds on the shield call to mind the mining industry and the zig-zag pattern, coloured red and white alludes to the heat processing of steel. The white rose of York appears in the arms and is repeated in the crest, here united with a gold coin which symbolises the riches of South Yorkshire - moral, intellectual and commercial.
The crest rises from a mural crown, sign of civic authority. Local interests are reflected by the beasts that support the shield. The horse with the hoe is emblematic of agriculture and the black lion grasping the pick-axe represents the strength and courage of the miner. Both implements are coloured red to remind us that the County's natural riches must sometimes be bought with blood."

Official Blazon

  • Arms: Sable a Pile throughout barry dancetty Argent and Gules over all a Pile reversed throughout counterchanged in the Sable a Rose Argent barbed and seeded proper between two like Roses dimidiated and issuing from the flanks.
  • Crest: Issuant from a Mural Crown Gules a Rose Argent barbed and seeded proper dimidiating a Bezant.
  • Supporters: Dexter a Horse guardant Or crined and unguled Sable supporting with the dexter forehoof a Hoe Gules sinister a Lion guardant Sable maned Or supporting a Miner's Pick-Axe Gules.
  • Motto: "Each Shall Strive For The Welfare Of All."

Source: Heraldry of the World: South Yorkshire.
Pete Loeser, 28 February 2021


South Yorkshire Police
Flags, Badges and Logos

[flag of South Yorkshire SYP Flag      [flag of South Yorkshire SYP Badge
images by Pete Loeser, 28 February 2021

The South Yorkshire Police (SYP) are the territorial police force of South Yorkshire and their area of responsibility includes the three boroughs of Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham and the City of Sheffield which is the county seat (county city). Their headquarters are at Carbrook House in Sheffield and they are governed by the elected South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner.
In terms of officer numbers the force is the 13th largest in the United Kingdom and the seventh smallest territorial police force in terms of geographic area of responsibility.
Pete Loeser, 28 February 2021

South Yorkshire Police Logos

[flag of South Yorkshire     [flag of South Yorkshire     [flag of South Yorkshire
images located by Pete Loeser, 28 February 2021


South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service
Flags, Badges and Logos

[flag of South Yorkshire SYFRS Flag      [flag of South Yorkshire SYFRS Badge
images by Pete Loeser, 28 February 2021

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue provides the fire and emergency rescue services for South Yorkshire, including Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield. The SYFRS operates 17 fire stations located across the county and staffed fulltime. It also has an additional four volunteer station manned by part-time on-call volunteer fire-fighters.
Pete Loeser, 28 February 2021

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Logos

[flag of South Yorkshire     [flag of South Yorkshire
images located by Pete Loeser, 28 February 2021


616th (South Yorkshire) Squadron
Royal Auxiliary Air Force

[616th South Yorkshire Squadron Flag #1]     [616th South Yorkshire Squadron Flag #2]     [616th South Yorkshire Squadron Insignia] Squadron Insignia
images by Pete Loeser, 28 February 2021 - based on this image and this image.

The 616th (South Yorkshire) Squadron is an active Reserve unit of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force. It was first formed in 1938 and stationed at the Royal Air Force (RAF) Air Base in Doncaster, South Yorkshire. The South Yorkshire squadron's first operational sorties were over Dunkirk covering the withdrawal. It served in the Battle of Britain in 1940 and had an active part throughout World War II as a fighter unit flying the famed Spitfires. In 1944 the 616th became the first RAF squadron to receive and operationally use the Gloster Meteor jet fighters. The 616th was finally disbanded in 1957, but reformed in 2019 as 616 (South Yorkshire) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force.
Pete Loeser, 28 February 2021