Barnsley, city (1991 pop. 76,783) and metropolitan district, N England. Coal mining, engineering, and clothing industries dominate the local economy. A mining and technical college is in Barnsley.

Barnsley is a town in South Yorkshire, England. It lies on the River Dearne, north of the city of Sheffield, and west of Doncaster. Barnsley is surrounded by several smaller settlements which together form the Metropolitan Borough of Barnsley, of which Barnsley is the largest and the administrative centre. Barnsley has a total population of over 250,000.

Historically a part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, Barnsley is notable as a former industrial town centred on coal mining and glassmaking. Though these industries demised in the 20th century, Barnsley's local culture remains rooted in this industrial heritage; Barnsley has a tradition of brass bands, originally created as social clubs for its mining communities.

In recent years, Barnsley has been referred to as "The Tarn" by many of its residents. It is between junctions 36 and 38 of the M1 motorway and has a railway station served by the Hallam and Penistone Lines. Barnsley F.C. is the local football club.


The first historical reference occurs in 1086 in the Domesday Book, in which it is called 'Berneslai' with a total population of around 200. The exact origins of the name Barnsley is still subject to debate, but Barnsley Council claims that its origins lie in the Saxon word Berne, for barn or storehouse, and Lay, for field.

The town lay in the parish of Silkstone and developed little until in the 1150s it was given to the monastery of St John, Pontefract. The monks decided to build a new town where three road met: the Sheffield to Wakefield, Rotherham to Huddersfield and Cheshire to Doncaster routes. The Domesday village became known as "Old Barnsley", and a town grew up on the new site.

The monks erected a chapel-of-ease dedicated to Saint Mary, which survived intact until 1820, and established a market. In 1249, a Royal Charter was granted to Barnsley permitting it to hold a weekly market on Wednesdays and annual four-day fair at Michaelmas. By the 1290s, three annual fairs were held. The town became the main centre for the Staincross wapentake, but in the mid-sixteenth century still had only 600 inhabitants.

From the 17th century, Barnsley developed into a stop-off point on the route between Leeds, Wakefield, Sheffield and London. The traffic generated as a result of this location fuelled trade, with hostelries and related services also prospering. A principal centre for linen weaving during the 18th and 19th century, Barnsley grew into an important manufacturing town. Barnsley also has a long tradition of glass-making, but is most famous for its coalfields. George Orwell briefly mentions the town in The Road to Wigan Pier. Orwell spent a number of days in the town living in the houses of the working-class miners while researching for the book. He wrote very critically of the council's expenditure on the construction of Barnsley Town Hall and claimed that the money should have been spent on improving the housing and living conditions of the local miners.

Further information about Barnsley's history and the surrounding villages can be found at


Following the Local Government Act 1972, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council took control of surrounding towns and villages and adopted them as part of Barnsley. This resulted in names such as 'Pennine Barnsley' being invented for the market town of Penistone (more than seven miles away) for promotional purposes. Other types of 'branding' are also employed to bring surrounding places into the Barnsley orbit, such as the use of the Barnsley coat of arms on street signs which are well beyond the boundaries of the town itself.

The municipal council elect the mayor every year. On the day of the election, a parade takes place in front of Barnsley Town Hall. The parade is in honour of the new mayor.

Barnsley has three MPs: Eric Illsley for Barnsley Central, Michael Clapham for Barnsley West and Penistone and Jeff Ennis for Barnsley East and Mexborough. They are all members of the Labour Party.


Divisions and suburbs

Ardsley, Athersley, Birdwell, Brierley, Carlton, Cawthorne, Cudworth, Cundy Cross, Darfield, Darton, Dodworth, Elsecar, Gawber, Great Houghton, Grimethorpe, Hemingfield, Honeywell, Higham, High Hoyland, Hoyland, Hoyland Common, Jump, Kendray, Kingstone, Lundwood, Mapplewell, Monk Bretton, New Lodge, Oldtown, Penistone, Pilley, Pogmoor, Royston, Shafton, Silkstone Common, Silkstone, Smithies, Staincross, Stairfoot, Tankersley, Thurgoland, Thurnscoe, Wilthorpe, Wombwell, Worsbrough Bridge, Worsbrough Common, Worsbrough Dale, Worsbrough Village


The town is famous for coal mining, although most of the pits were actually in the surrounding villages, rather than in the town itself. The proportion employed in mining varied hugely, even before recent times "Barnsley Main" colliery was in the town, but was fairly small; it closed in 1991. All of the mines in the borough are now closed; Goldthorpe was the last to close in 1994. Wire, linen and glassmaking were also major industries, but only glassmaking remains, with two large companies still operating. The coat of arms for the town includes a coal miner and a glassblower. It is now moving towards a service economy. As of July 2007, unemployment stands at 2.8% in Barnsley West & Penistone, 4.2% in Barnsley Central and 4.0% in Barnsley East & Mexborough, compared to the national average of 3.1%. Since 1997, unemployment fell by 55.2%, 52.5% and 52.5% in the three areas respectively.

The Western half of the Borough stretches from the M1 to the edge of the Peak District and is essentially rural in character. This Western part includes the Market Town of Penistone and some notable and remarkable places of interest, these include: Wentworth Castle and Gardens (Grade 1 listed gardens) , Cannon Hall Park and Museum , Cawthorne Jubilee Museum , Wortley Hall and Gardens , Wortley Top Forge (16th century Forge)

In 2002, Barnsley Council and partners launched a major consultation exercise called "Rethinking Barnsley". This led to a regeneration programme centred on Barnsley Town Centre called "Remaking Barnsley" Developments include a new transport interchange, a new cultural centre in the old Civic Hall, a Digital Media Centre (opened August 2007- first business in WEBMART ) , and new offices and apartments throughout the Town Centre. At the same time, housebuilding has taken off and major new housing areas have been developed. Business Parks on the M1 at Junctions 37 and 36, and in the Dearne Valley , have also expanded the job opportunities locally. Unemployment is now below the national average but a large number of local people are on Incapacity Benefit. The economic development of Barnsley is led by the Barnsley Development Agency

Barnsley Business Innovation Centre (BBIC) on Huddersfield Road provides a home to many new businesses and is one the most successful business innovation centres in Europe

Significant industrial employers include the Ardagh Glass Group, Fosters Bakery and others.

Town centre

The main part of Barnsley town centre was constructed during the 1960s, and as with many other town centres, has become less aesthetically pleasing over time. The area around Cheapside and May Day Green, which is known as the metropolitan centre, is home to the market as well as many High Street retailers such as Marks & Spencer, WH Smith, HMV, Carphone Warehouse, Vodafone, Boots, and The Body Shop. It is due to be demolished in 2008 to make way for a new retail and leisure development. The Mall Barnsley, which was opened in 1991, houses retailers such as Next, Woolworths, Primark and TK Maxx. Other prominent areas are Queen Street, where Marks and Spencer and stores such as Topshop, Wallis and Dorothy Perkins are located, Market Street, Eldon Street and The Arcade, which houses the majority of the independent and designer retailers in Barnsley. The town also has a large concentration of pubs and bars in the central district. The former Odeon cinema has recently been reopened as Parkway Cinema.

Outside the town centre lie numerous large retail units, retail parks and supermarkets, which include Asda, Morrisons, PC World, Currys, MFI, Halfords, and B&Q.

Development work on the new shopping centre is due to start in the town centre in mid 2008. Several stores such as Vodafone and Halifax Bank have opened new premises in town.


Barnsley town centre is undergoing a period of massive change. Projects include:

  • The new Barnsley Interchange.
  • The digital media centre (now completed).
  • Gateway Plaza at Town End (now under construction).
  • The Markets complex which will house Barnsley Markets and be the centre of the towns retailing. It will be anchored by Debenhams.
  • Experience Barnsley - It will be known by the end of this year whether this project is going ahead. If so, it means that by 2012 there will be state-of-the-art museum galleries, a community learning zone, local history research centre and changing exhibition space within the Town Hall.


The first bottle bank for glass recycling collection in the United Kingdom was introduced by both Stanley Race CBE, then president of the Glass Manufacturers’ Federation and Ron England in Barnsley. According to a BBC Radio 4 edition of PM aired on 6th June 2007, and a web article, the bank opened in June 1977 however a BBC web article published in 2002 states that the bottle bank opened on 24 August, 1977.


The main focus of transport in Barnsley is the new Barnsley Interchange which opened to the public on Sunday 20th May 2007. The design has been entered for national and international awards. The interchange was the first project in the the remaking Barnsley scheme to be completed.

Stagecoach in Yorkshire run most bus services within Barnsley, operating to and from the new Barnsley Interchange. Stagecoach acquired the company from Yorkshire Traction in 2005, and has come under fire for operating the service poorly. This is set to change as Stagecoach in Yorkshire overhauled bus services from 20th May 2007 in a bid to improve performance.

Train services are provided by Northern Rail. Services from between Sheffield and Leeds via Wakefield twice an hour, with one operating a 'fast' service to Leeds, and another service is operated to Huddersfield with a frequency of one per hour. There are three services to Sheffield each hour. East Midlands Trains currently operates one train per day to London St Pancras International via Leicester which is operated by a new Class 222 Meridian high speed train. A new hourly service to Nottingham will be introduced in late 2008.

The nearest airport is the Robin Hood Airport in Doncaster. This is some 40 minutes away and is easily accessible by car. There is also a direct bus service from Barnsley to the airport; the X19, which runs hourly.


Barnsley has long suffered from less than average educational standards when compared with the rest of the United Kingdom, but recent improvements in examination results have brought levels in line with the national average. Barnsley College is one of the largest further and higher education establishments in Europe and is situated on a number of sites throughout the town centre, chiefly the Old Mill Lane Site, Eastgate House, The Sci Tech Centre, the Honeywell Site and the Construction centre. The University of Huddersfield has recently opened a campus in the town on Church Street besides Barnsley Town Hall. This is known as the University Centre Barnsley.

All 14 secondary schools in Barnsley are soon to be demolished and replaced by brand new 'Academy' education centres.

Notable people


Barnsley is home to a proud tradition of brass bands, which were originally created as social clubs for the mining communities. Grimethorpe Colliery Band, located in the village of Grimethorpe, 5 miles to the east of Barnsley, is perhaps the best known brass band in Britain. It rose to fame in the film Brassed Off and is now the 'artist in residence' at the Royal College of Music, London. The band has performed in Hyde Park during the Last Night of the Proms. The nationally renowned bandsman, conductor and composer; Eric Jessop was and still is, heavily involved in promoting the culture of brass banding in the area.

The 'Bard of Barnsley' Ian McMillan writes a column in the local paper, the Barnsley Chronicle, in local dialect, he was recently nominated for a chair of poetry at Oxford University, and often appears on Radio 4. The Barnsley accent is starting to wear off amongst the younger generation, but it has generally been better maintained than most other Yorkshire accents. Some have started referring to Barnsley as Tahn.

Ken Loach's film Kes was set and filmed in severals villages in Barnsley, including Lundwood and Monk Bretton, using local actors such as Freddie Fletcher.

There is a live rock and hip hop music scene, which reached its height in the Britpop years, around 1997, due to its close proximity to Sheffield and Manchester. Barnsley rock band Saxon were famous in the 1980s. Two of the Arctic Monkeys studied music at Barnsley College and Barnsley has its own rappers 'Yeshua', MF:thaDon, Figure of speech, dj pete jr, rezin D.

Barnsley Council operates three museums, Cannon Hall, the Cooper Gallery and Worsbrough Mill. There are plans for a fourth museum located within the town hall. The project to create this is known as Experience Barnsley. Other museums in Barnsley include the volunteer-run Darfield Museum and the Cawthorne Victoria Jubilee Museum. Other heritage sites include Wortley Top Forge, Wortley Hall, Wentworth Castle and Monk Bretton Priory.

The Lamproom Theatre has four theatrical companies, and showcases theatre in the Town Centre of Barnsley

The Academy Theatre is part of the Take 2 Centre which Offer a wide selection of shows throughout the season including comedy, west end performers, musicals and the traditional "An Evening With....." in its 5th year now The Take 2 Centre provides Barnsley with a Recording Studio, Design And Print Studios, Theatre School, Music School, Vocal Tutition, Childcare, Hair And Beauty (taught), Technical Theatre (NCFE Accredited). Barnsley has two twin towns:


Barnsley's resident football team, Barnsley F.C. play in the Championship of the English league. Their home ground is known as Oakwell Stadium, which is situated in Oakwell, just outside of the town centre. The club has had a mixed recent history. In the late 1990s they had a brief spell in the Premier League, but were relegated after just one season. Subsequent seasons saw them relegated to the third tier of English football. After 4 seasons, Barnsley finally regained their place in the Championship after beating Swansea City 4-3 on penalties in the play off final in Cardiff. Barnsley are once again competing in The Championship in the 2007-2008 football season after surviving a relegation fight during the 2006-2007 season. In the 2007-2008 season, they were victorious at Anfield when they played against Liverpool F.C. in the FA Cup 5th round, with the score being 2-1. They then followed this up with another giant-killing at home against Chelsea F.C. in the following round, winning 1-0 to book a place in the Semi-finals, where they lost to Cardiff City.

Speedway racing was staged at a track near Barnsley known as Barnsley Lundwood. The track entered a team in the Northern Leagues of 1929 and 1930.


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