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Barnsley - more to it than first meets the eye
Attractions in Barnsley
Member Name: apuskiduski
Attractions in Barnsley
Date: 25/02/09, updated on 29/05/09 (598 review reads)
Advantages: Just off the M1, great open spaces, cheap markets
Disadvantages: Rowdy on Saturday nights, got a bad reputation, recovering pit town
'Barnsley attractions' appears at first sight to be a bit of an oxymoron. But if you delve a little deeper there are a few treasures to be found.
Here's my top few
1. Worsbrough Mill and Country Park
This is a beautifully restored 17th Century water-powered corn mill producing organic flour and semolina. It has 200 acres of Country Park, a tranquil reservoir and is a nature reserve with fishing, cycling and walking routes around it. It has a small gift shop, limited toilets, educational facilities that I have often used and is a wonderful place for historians and artists alike.
The best bit is it's free with a donation box in the mill shop. There is a charge for cars and coaches in the car park.
Full details can be found on http://www.barnsley.gov.uk/
The Dove Valley Trail , a section on the Trans Pennine trail, runs behind the park and from this, or after a very short drive, you can find:
2. Wigfield Farm
This is a must in spring time for those people with young children. As it's an open working farm, with an ongoing breeding programme there are always a few new faces among the animals. If you are into rare, traditional or commercial breeds of pigs, cattle, sheep or ponies then you'll love it. There are lots of smaller animals such as rabbits, gerbils, chipmunks and guinea pigs which can be bought I believe. With a café, children's play area and disabled facilities this is a place for everyone, but not the only animal farm in the area.
Full details on http://wigfield.barnsley.ac.uk/index_.html
3. Cannon Hall Museum, Park, Farm, Gardens and Garden Centre
Cannon Hall is a country house museum set in 70 acres of historic parkland. There's no doubt about it, the house is stunning and has been used as a set for 'Lost in Austen', a time-travelling take on Pride and Prejudice. For over two hundred years Cannon Hall was home to the Spencer (later Spencer-Stanhope) family, who made their fortune in the local iron industry. There is a delightful tea room or two, the obligatory gift shop and plenty of space for a picnic or a summer game of rounders. This is a fabulously cheap day out as entry to the museum, park and gardens is free so the only cost you might have is car parking at £2.50 a day.
The farm, farm shop and café are separate but within the same grounds and there's an entry fee for the farm. (£3.75 adults and £3.25 for children). You can feed the animals, learn a great deal about the different breeds of pigs, sheep and cattle and if you've got any energy left, spend some time on the adventure playground. Well, the big kids among us can!
Across the road there's a garden centre with café and every summer in these grounds there's a Maize Maze for your little darlings to get lost in for a couple of hours. Better take a bottle of water and have been to the loo before you go in. It took us 2 hours!
Full details for the museum on http://www.barnsley.gov.uk
4. Wentworth Castle
Another one for historic house lovers and a real find that's clearly not well known. It was featured in the programme Restoration a couple of years ago and is a must see attraction.
It is celebrating its 300th Anniversary in 2009 and has something for everyone. A fantastic garden, adventure park, stunning views and regular organised events makes it a jewel for the Barnsley area.
Superb wedding venue too.
Full details on: http://www.wentworthcastle.org/view.asp?id=145
5. Cooper Art Gallery
This has a vibrant programme of visiting contemporary artists and sculptors as well as a permanent Trustees' collection offering a bit of history into the local area. It is in the centre of town, is warm and welcoming with a gorgeous café to have a coffee and a chinwag. There are several educational opportunities for school groups too.
Full details on http://www.culture24.org.uk/yh000044
6. Barnsley Town Hall
Almost opposite the gallery is my number 6 attraction. It's one of the best town hall buildings in the country, in my opinion, and also well worth a visit. It is open to the public on Monday to Friday, between 8.45am and 5.00pm.
Full details on http://www.barnsley.gov.uk/
7. Emley Moor Mast
Although this isn't technically in Barnsley, it can be seen from almost everywhere in the borough. Well worth a close up, followed by a pint or a meal in the Three Acres pub at Shelley, where many a celebrity has scrawled on a menu. Food is divine, service first class and accommodation to roll into when you're a bit worse for wear.
More info on Emley Moor: http://tx.mb21.co.uk/emley/
8. Elsecar Heritage Centre
Elsecar technically is outside Barnsley town centre, but is still part of the Metropolitan Borough.
The Centre " is an Antique, History and Craft Centre offering something for everyone.
Set in the attractive conservation village of Elsecar, Elsecar Heritage Centre is located within the former ironworks and colliery workshops of the Earl Fitzwilliam. Restored historical buildings now house an antique centre, individual craft workshops, and exhibitions of Elsecar's past. Elsecar Heritage Centre is also the ideal location to access the Trans Pennine Trail.
Elsecar Heritage Centre is open 7 days a week, 10am to 5pm, although individual shops and businesses within Elsecar Heritage Centre have varying opening times.
Free parking and entry to site, (admission fee applicable to some special events and attractions). Regular public transport service available to Elsecar via train, (Leeds, Sheffeild, Barnsley, Wakefield), or bus route 66 from Barnsley Station. Cycle racks available on-site.
Responsible dog owners welcome."
Taken from the website: http://www.elsecar-heritage-centre.co.uk/
9. The Lamproom Theatre
This is in the centre of town, on Westgate, and shows a wide variety of local amateur and professional performances. It was an old Methodist chapel and has been restored lovingly by a dedicated group of volunteers.
Full details on http://www.barnsleylamproom.com/home.asp
10. Barnsley Civic Centre
This is Barnsley's much awaited new home to the arts. I visited when my daughters performed in a concert there on the 7th May and to be honest I was a little disappointed, after seeing the website and hearing great things about it. There was no seating as you waited to be admitted to the assembly rooms, the bar was completely inadequate, quickly running out of soft drinks during the interval whilst having gallons of wine left - they had clearly misjudged the clientelle on this particular occasion. The seating arrangement looks and feels unfinished. As you climb the metal stairs at the rear of the assembly rooms, it feels as if you are going to be sitting on temporary bleachers. It lacks a permanent feel to it for sure.
The actual accoustics were fantastic however and I thoroughly enjoyed an amazing performance by Roger Webster, who must be the best cornet player in the world - it's a good job they weren't paying him by the note that's all I can say. So, a little disappointing but, overall, the performances made up for the irritations I felt on the evening. I certainly would go again!
11. Take Two Academy Theatre
Sticking with the arts and performance theme, this little theatre is also worth a mention. There are a huge variety of shows, concerts and 'audiences with' and it also offers a massive array of learning opportunities for those into music, theatre and dance as well as a whole raft of other training opportunities in childcare and beauty as two for instances. A really busy centre of excellence that keeps hundreds of Barnsley kids engaged in 'extra stuff' that they so rightly deserve. It's thanks to their wonderful support that I now have passed my music theory Grade 1 and piano Grade 4 as an adult learner.
12. Yorkshire Sculpture Park
This is a National Treasure, not just a local gem. Providing open air space to Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, amongst many others, it's an idyllic location surrounded by rolling hills and breathtaking scenery. With a relatively new visitors' centre of cutting edge design, the balcony in the café has a view to die for. This is an anytime place. When we have a spare hour or two anytime, we just go. There is a fee for parking, but all funds go towards the upkeep of the park. Well worth it.
All the details on: http://www.ysp.co.uk/view.aspx?id=3
13. Wortley Top Forge
Another one for industrial history buffs. This 17th Century Iron Forge is acknowledged as being the oldest surviving Heavy Iron Forge in the World. I've seen some old things in Barnsley, but this place is older than most of them!
Open Sundays from February to November plus BH Mondays and at £3 adults, £2 OAPs and 50p for kids, it's cheap as chips.
Full details on: http://www.topforge.co.uk/
14. Hemsworth Water Park
Technically out of Barnsley and in Pontefract's boundaries, this is often referred to ast ' Barnsley Beach. Great fun for kids of all ages. Sand, water, slides, swings. And a bar for the big kids. Details on: http://www.hemsworthtowncouncil.co.uk/
15. Barnsley Markets.
Bargains galore. Enough said.
I hope that with all these suggestions you can see that the concept of Barnsley having attractions is actually possible. We have some of the best "stuff" to do in our spare time that we could ask for. You can always be guaranteed a warm welcome and some fond memories of our town if you visit. Don't come on a Saturday night though, that's bar crawl Britain at it's worst and I wouldn't want you to see it, it's not big and it's not clever.
I have not mentioned other attractions like Oakwell football ground, the home of Toby Tyke and Barnsley FC - Giant Killers Extraordinaire - or the Metrodome Leisure Complex, Parkway Cinema, Barnsley Bowl or Stairfoot Roundabout. This final item is a work of town planning that mystifies everyone, visitors and locals alike, and sorts the men from the boys, I can tell you. My advice if you want to arrive in Barnsley and avoid this hellish state of affairs, use the M1 and get off at Junction 37 into town on Dodworth Road.
Hope you've enjoyed this whistle-stop tour of my town. God love it, someone's got to!
Summary: Scratch the surface of Barnsley to find a few hidden gems