Museum exhibition marks 20th anniversary of Barnsley’s Slazenger factory closure

A new museum exhibition will mark twenty years since Barnsley’s famous Slazenger factory closed.

Friday, 1st April 2022, 3:09 pm
Updated Friday, 1st April 2022, 5:05 pm

“Barnsley Serves the World” runs from April 9 to October 8 at Experience Barnsley in the Town Hall.

For more than 50 years, workers at the town’s famous Slazenger factory made tennis balls which were expertly served around the world, including at Wimbledon.

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“Barnsley Serves the World” runs from April 9 to October 8 at Experience Barnsley in the Town Hall.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the factory’s closure and transfer of production to the Philippines.

Workers at the Slazenger factory on Doncaster Road made balls used by legends such as Bjorn Borg, Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova and Roy Laver before its closed in 2002.

John McEnroe’s 1981 tantrum centred on whether a Barnsley-made ball was “in or out”.

Visitors will be able to view memorabilia, photographs and films, documenting the factory’s impact on Barnsley.

Steven Skelley, who has developed the exhibition, explains: “Barnsley’s role in the tennis world is both fascinating and significant.

“This exhibition brings history to life and will no doubt appeal to many people, regardless of their interest in sport.

“Barnsley Serves the World really does have something for all ages and interests.”

Visitors to the exhibition will also be able to hear from Barnsley poet Ian McMillan who was one of hundreds of workers at the Doncaster Road factory in the early 80s.

Mr McMillan, who worked on the Buff and Dip machines, has penned a poem which has been translated into Tagalog and sent to the new factory in the Philippines.

He will give a reading of his poem on April 9 at 1pm.

For full details of the exhibition programme please visit