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Celebrating Elsecar’s past, present and future

13th Feb 2018

Since being named one of ten ‘heritage action zones’ in March 2017, the team at Elsecar Heritage Centre have been working with researchers and archaeologists from Historic England to uncover the incredible history of Elsecar and the surrounding landscape.

Last week, the team hosted a special event in the former rolling mill of Elsecar Ironworks to share some of their initial discoveries and their exciting plans for the future.

Over 130 people attended the event, including the Mayor of Barnsley, Councillor Jeff Ennis, Council Leader Sir Steve Houghton and many local people interested in finding out more about the project. 12 partner groups were also present at the event, including Historic England, The Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership, Barnsley Archives and Barnsley College.

During a series of talks in the impressive Ironworks building, historians piecing together the history of the area revealed that Elsecar should now be understood as a complete ‘model industrial estate village’ built for the Earls Fitzwilliam, whose family lived a mile down the road in the biggest privately-owned house in Britain. The fourth and fifth Earls built cottages, schools, pubs and a church for the workers in the ironworks and collieries and also put in a canal and basin to transport the finished product.

Trustee of Barnsley Museums & Heritage Trust, John Hamshere took to the stage to talk about what the future holds for Elsecar, he said: “What you can see in microcosm here at Elsecar is the industrial story of the nation. Few places in Britain have so many reminders of its great industrial heritage and by working together, we can uncover its important histories.”

Dr. John Tanner, project manager for Barnsley Museums said after the event: “Thank you to everyone who came along – it was wonderful to see such an amazing response from local people being connected with the history of their own houses, rows and village.”

The Heritage Action Zone project and other developments at Elsecar Heritage Centre aim to use heritage to improve people’s quality of life by driving interest in the new discoveries and bringing new visitors and business to the area.

Councillor Sir Steve Houghton CBE, Leader of Barnsley Council, commented on the tourism opportunities. He said: “A lot of work has gone on in the past in Elsecar to build it up as a tourist destination and celebrate the history of the area.

“In the long-term we’re looking at joint ventures with Wentworth Woodhouse in Rotherham, which would make us even bigger on the national stage. That’s not only good for tourism, but also for jobs and Barnsley’s cultural offer.”

Read the full story in the Yorkshire Post.

Follow the Elsecar Heritage Action Zone team on Twitter @ElsecarHaz

To support the future of Elsecar Heritage Centre, you can make a donation to Barnsley Museums & Heritage Trust on your next visit, or donate online by visiting our ‘Support Us’ page.