Council invests to boost Barnsley heritage

LIVING HISTORY: Elsecar Heritage Centre
LIVING HISTORY: Elsecar Heritage Centre
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A disused commercial building which is expected to be used as a car park for a visitor attraction next door has cost Barnsley Council £1.1m, it has emerged.

The former Dawson’s premises in Wath Road, Elsecar, is next to the village’s Heritage Centre, which is emerging as an increasingly popular visitor attraction, to the point where the lack of car parking has become an issue at busy times.

BIG DEAL: The Dawson's building alongside Elsecar Heritage Centre bought for 1.1m.

BIG DEAL: The Dawson's building alongside Elsecar Heritage Centre bought for 1.1m.

That is likely to increase in future, with the area now given Heritage Action Zone status, meaning more work will be done to explore its history and raise its profile in the years ahead.

The Heritage Centre is based in a cluster of historic buildings which were created as workshops to support the mining industry of the Fitzwilliam family, who lived at Wentworth Woodhouse a short distance away, before being turned over to the National Coal Board.

When the mining industry collapsed, the centre was given a new lease of life as a visitor attraction but increasing work has been done to rediscover the village’s part in the Industrial Revolution, not only through coal mining but through the iron industry.

Already some excavation work has been done in the original canal basin, which sat behind the Dawson’s building before being filled in and moved several hundred yards, meaning it is possible more the area’s history will remain hidden beneath the building.

The cost of buying the site is so significant it has appeared on Barnsley Council budget papers for the next financial year and the long term prospects for the site have yet to be decided.

However, councillors believe it could be used initially for car parking, to take the pressure off existing facilities in the village, which also has an award-winning park which draws visitors in.

The Tour de Yorkshire cycle race passes through the area in early May and it is thought it could be opened up to provide visitor parking in time for that event.