Work launched to preserve tumbledown wall with a forgotten history

For generations it has formed an unremarkable boundary between a pub’s bowling green and nearby housing.

Sunday, 17th February 2019, 17:28 pm
Updated Sunday, 17th February 2019, 17:32 pm
Forgotten history: Coun Jo Newing with the centuries old wall outside the Miners' Rest

But now the real history of a poorly maintained wall between the Miners’ Rest pub in Barnsley’s Old Town has emerged and councillors are working to ensure it is conserved for the future, rather than being allowed to simply crumble away.

Research begun by former councillor Bill Gaunt has confirmed the wall quite literally formed part of the boundary of Old Town, put in place long before the Barnsley which is recognisable today emerged following the Industrial Revolution.

Barnsley Council’s own conservation officer has also suggested that the ‘wavy’ line the wall follows suggests it could follow the original Old Barnsley ditch, or settlement boundary, meaning it could be linked back to the formation of the town.

Old Town was mentioned in the Domesday Book, though it remains impossible to link the wall back to that date, it is acknowledged by the conservation officer that it is part of the area’s history which should be preserved.

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However because the significance of the structure has been overlooked, so has its maintenance and down the generations some sections have been replaced or patched with modern materials including bricks.

While those interventions ultimately form part of the wall’s history, Old Town councillors are now working to ensure the wall does not deteriorate further, so it can be preserved for future generations.

Now Councillors Jo Newing and Phillip Lofts are to write to the pub’s brewery owners to ask that they step in to protect the wall.

Coun Lofts said: “The next step is to approach the brewery, to let them know they an ancient monument.

“I think they have a duty to the community to preserve it.”

Ultimately, the councillors would like to see the wall, which goes beyond the bowling green boundary towards Gawber Road and Barnsley Hospital, designated an Ancient Monument, but accept that process would be complex and time consuming to achieve.

Coun Newing said: “We have to think about how we can preserve it, rather than letting it go to ruin.”

Barnsley Council hold historic maps, including one for land awarded under the Inclosure Act of 1779, which is characterised by linear parcels of land.

The ‘wavy’ boundary the old wall follows is repeated on a map from 1850 and appears to wrap around the original settlement, suggesting it predates 1779 by some time.