Originally mentioned in the Domesday Book, Barnsley’s historic roots are easily spotted with castles and heritage centres cataloguing the South Yorkshire town’s place in history.
In addition to this, the town has a rich industrial heritage of coalmining and glassmaking; with its local culture remaining rooted here.
The area is surrounded by ancient villages, historic parkland and borders onto the Peak District National Park which is ideal for those wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of big city living.
The town’s museums, theatres, ruins and stately homes allow visitors the chance to learn more about the town and enjoy some of its cultural offering too.
This is the first time that Barnsley will have hosted the Tour de Yorkshire, although the borough did feature on Stage 3 of the 2017 edition as the peloton passed through Penistone; the highest market town in the country.
People from all around the borough of Barnsley got involved with creating a special collection of craft artwork entitled ‘In Gear’ that explored the mechanics of cycling, featuring gears, cogs, bearings and chains. The impressive land art was displayed at both Penistone and Thurgoland Bank and made quite the impression.
Barnsley also played brief host to the Tour de France Grand Départ in 2014. On 6 July, the second leg of the Tour de France saw 198 riders from 22 teams, race along 13 kilometres (8.1 miles) of the borough’s roads on its way from York to Sheffield.
Michael Parkinson CBE
Born in Cudworth and educated at Barnsley Grammar School, Parky, or the ‘King of Chat’ as he became amicably known went on to become one of the greatest talk show hosts the UK has ever seen. The keen cricketer also once kept cricket legend Geoffrey Boycott out of the Barnsley cricket team by scoring a century and 50 in successive matches.
Dickie Bird OBE
Harold Dennis Bird, or ‘Dickie’ as he is better known, is another of Barnsley’s famous sons. This former international cricket umpire set records after officiating the most test matches in a single nation (54 in England). Bird, who has previously served as Yorkshire Cricket Club’s President, used to open the batting at Barnsley cricket club with the aforementioned Michael Parkinson.
In 2013, thanks to his services to cricket and his hometown, Bird had a statue erected in his honour near the place of his birth.
Ed Clancy OBE
Ed Clancy, the professional track and road cyclist is Yorkshire’s most decorated Olympian with three Olympic Gold medals and an Olympic Bronze medal. Clancy is no stranger to the Tour de Yorkshire either having ridden for JLT Condor – Britain’s longest standing UCI cycling team - in the inaugural edition back in 2015.
This England Athletics Hall of Fame Sprinter was born in Cudworth in 1941 and went on to become arguably Britain’s best ever female sprinter. Hyman has Olympic Bronze medals as well as Gold and Silver medals from the Commonwealth Games and European Championships. The winner of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1963 is still very highly regarded with a sport centre named after her in Cudworth and even carried the Olympic flame through Barnsley in 2012.
ICONIC LANDMARKS OF PAST AND PRESENT
Once Britain’s largest railway bridge, the Oaks Viaduct spanned the Dearne Valley, serving as an alternative line for trains between Leeds and Sheffield on the Midland Railway’s main line. The local ‘Cudworth Flyer’ was a mainstay here although this service was withdrawn in 1958; with the bridge itself being deemed no longer fit for purpose in 1965 and being demolished shortly afterwards.
Situated in Penistone, Hartcliff Folly was built in 1856 by a successful linen merchant named Henry Richardson; who became the first Mayor of Barnsley.
Barnsley Town Hall
This impressive Grade A listed building is clad in Portland stone and is the Council’s main civic building. The historic building is as fascinating as it is imposing and plays host to the Experience Barnsley Museum and Discovery Centre; housing a treasure trove of interesting information and artefacts.
NEARBY BIKE LIBRARIES
The Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries scheme was set up as a legacy of the grandest ever Grand Départ of the Tour de France back in 2014 and aims to give every child in Yorkshire access to a bike. Since its inception the scheme has seen 46 libraries set up, over 5,000 bikes donated and in excess of 40,000 opportunities for people in the county to cycle.
There are two bike libraries situated in and around Barnsley offering bicycle loans and lessons for people in the town.
The Active Barnsley Bike Library is based at Shaw Lane Sports Club and provides free bike loans throughout the year to children undertaking cycle training who do not have access to a bike. This consists of year five and six children doing Bikeability training in school and younger children participating in learn to ride sessions at Shaw Lane. The bikes for these sessions will be delivered to the schools by Active Barnsley as required, and users are also welcome to borrow a bike for free directly from Shaw Lane.
Set within Penistone Leisure Centre, Sporting Penistone was formed by an entirely voluntary board of local residents and users of the facility; this truly is a community project if ever there was one.
The community-friendly bike library serves the people of the small market town of Penistone, including the villages surrounding it. It supports families who want to try out cycling as a group activity and removes the barrier of bike ownership, encouraging healthy living and providing courses that promotes understanding of bike maintenance.
In 1924 an advert appeared in Cyclingmagazine, asking for people interested in forming a cycling club in Barnsley to meet at the Manor Castle Inn on Pontefract Road. Twenty people were keen but the sponsor did not attend, another meeting was arranged in an old shed at the back of Caffrey’s on Doncaster Road. On 20th March 1924, the Barnsley Road Club was formed and the first club run organised; which was to Goole. The first President, and incidentally the first life member, was G.W. Miles and in 93 years of operation the club can feel immensely proud of their achievements, boasting a 120 strong membership and competing in most form of cycling sport, achieving great results.
The town plays host to the annual Barnsley Town Centre Races and in 2017 saw U12, U14, U16, Regional B and Elite men’s and women’s races; over the same course as the 2015 National Circuit Race championships that were won by Ian Bibby and Nicola Juniper; both of whom have taken part in the Tour de Yorkshire.
The prize fund this year for the famed Barnsley Crit was £6,500 with equal prize funding for both the men and women.
Since 1858, Barnsley’s local weekly newspaper the Brnsley Chronicle has been informing and entertaining residents. It is famed for its ‘Owd Sam’ or ‘Sam Barn’ column written in Barnsley dialect, which was not only delightfully ridiculous but nigh on undecipherable.
There is a village in the metropolitan borough of Barnsley named Jump. According to local legend, the name was based on the local coal miners having to ‘jump’ over the stream to gain access.
Formed in 1917, the Grimethorpe Colliery Band has become a British institution winning National and British Open Championships on numerous occasions. In 1995 after the film Brassed Off! Starring Ewan McGregor was released, they saw international fame, having provided the soundtrack, music and extras for the on-screen band.
Barnsley is twinned with two communities in Europe, the German town of Schwäbisch Gmünd and the Ukrainian city of Horlivka (also known by its German name Gorlovka).
Residents and visitors to Barnsley may be familiar with Schwäbisch Gmünd Way which was renamed in honour of the town’s German twin and Barnsley has been to space courtesy of their Ukrainian twin. Cosmonaut Alexander Volkov took the aforementioned Sam Barn out of earth’s atmosphere to be the then mascot for the Mir Space Station.
The twins have a rich cycling heritage too, Schwäbisch Gmünd native Uwe Messerschmidt won a silver medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles in the men’s cycling points race and the 2016 women’s cross-country eliminator champion was none other than Iryna Popova of Horlivka.