“ Come see what South Yorkshire has to offer! Antiques, history and crafts! „
The Elsecar Heritage Centre is situated in the small, former mining village of Elsecar about 12 kilometres to the south of Barnsley in South Yorkshire. It is described as a Heritage and Craft Centre and since it opened it has won numerous awards.
I often try and make a point of visiting such attractions as I find that it is an excellent way to learn about the local area and since entry into the centre is free there really is no excuse to not visit this place whilst in the area.
The centre is located within an old colliery workshop and ironworks that once belonged to the Earl Fitzwilliam whose residence was the nearby Wentworth Estate and the magnificent Wentworth Woodhouse Country House.
The Elsecar Heritage Centre includes various carefully restored buildings, many of which are positioned alongside the attractive River Dearne and the adjacent Dove Canal.
Included within this complex is the Elsecar Steam Railway, several craft centres, a children's activity area and an antiques centre. Perhaps the most famous exhibit here however is the Newcomen Steam Engine, which is its only example in the world of such an engine that has remained in its original location. This engine was used to pump water out of Elsecar Colliery and was used from 1795 until 1923 when is was replaced by more modern and efficient electric pumps. In 1923 it was used again briefly when flooding damaged the electric pumps. At its peak it could draw over 600 gallons of water out of the pit every minute. This engine is now classified as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. It is not currently in working order but there are plans to restore it back to its original state in the near future.
As well as the permanent displays that can be found here there are also several temporary exhibitions which include vintage car shows and garden displays. The Elsecar Heritage Centre is free to visit and is well worthy of a visit if you are interested in the local history of the area.
Whilst there are obvious museum style items such as fully restored steam locomotive engines in the steam railways section (one such example even occupies the main courtyard), there are also more unusual features to be found here to. I was particularly fascinated by the Victorian classroom which is a replica of how a typical local school classroom would have looked in the 1880's. Fortunately this was open during my visit and it was possible to wander around the old-fashioned wooden desks and chairs, but when my parents visited here this room was closed and they had to make do by peering through the windows.
Although this attraction is primarily a visitors centre it is also a fully working heritage centre and a full range of different craftsmen can be seen making a variety of different goods, many of which can be bought on site in the gift shop. During my visit we saw people painting, weaving, making clocks and sharpening tools on lathes. Within the antiques section alone there are over 120 different businesses that are based here.
Adjacent to the heritage centre there is a large purpose built exhibition hall. This was closed during my visit but I understand that there is sometimes a charge of £1.50 for adults to enter here, or £1 for children and concessions depending on what exhibitions are taking place.
There is a large car park close to the main entrance and car parking here is free. There are also toilets located near to here, including ones with disabled access. There is also a small cafe on the site.
The Elsecar Heritage Centre is open throughout the year. It is open everyday except Tuesday between the hours of 9am and 5pm. It is sign posted from junction 36 of the M1 Motorway, both northbound and southbound.
The Elsecar Heritage Centre