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Holy Trinity Church Elsecar March 2017.jpg
Holy Trinity Parish Church in Elsecar
Elsecar is located in South Yorkshire
Location within South Yorkshire
Population2,500 (2001)
OS grid referenceSE389001
• London145 mi (233 km) S
Metropolitan borough
Metropolitan county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtS74
Dialling code01226
PoliceSouth Yorkshire
FireSouth Yorkshire
UK Parliament
List of places
53°29′46″N 1°24′43″W / 53.496°N 1.412°W / 53.496; -1.412Coordinates: 53°29′46″N 1°24′43″W / 53.496°N 1.412°W / 53.496; -1.412

Elsecar (/ˈɛlsɪkɑːr/ (listen), locally /ˈɛlsɪkər/) is a village in the Metropolitan Borough of Barnsley in South Yorkshire, England. It is near the villages of Jump and Wentworth and 1.5 miles (2.4 km) south of the town of Hoyland, 6 miles (9.7 km) south of Barnsley and 8 miles (13 km) north-east of Sheffield. Elsecar falls within the Barnsley MBC Ward of Hoyland Milton. Like many villages in the area, it was for many years a colliery village until the widespread pit closures during the 1980s.

Elsecar is unique as a name. It is thought to derive from the Old English personal name of Aelfsige (mentioned in Cartulary of Nostell Priory, 1259–66) and the Old Norse word kjarr, denoting a marsh or brushwood.[1]


In 1870–72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Elsecar as having a population of 1912 and 353 dwelling places.[2]


Manhole cover from an Elsecar foundry

Elsecar's development can be seen as a microcosm of the whole Industrial Revolution in Britain.[3] The village was nothing more than a series of farms until the 18th century. Although coal had been mined in the area since the 14th century, the first colliery, Elsecar Old, did not open until 1750. The first proper mine shaft was sunk in 1795 at Elsecar New Colliery. The village was formed to take advantage of the coal resources in the area, the seams of the Carboniferous Middle Coal Measures, the Kents Thick and Kents Thin coal seams.[1] Many of the new buildings were built by the Earl Fitzwilliam, who resided in nearby Wentworth Woodhouse, to house colliery workers. By the end of the century, several pits were opened. The Fitzwilliams dictated the provision of housing and social institutions at Elsecar throughout the 19th century. They also maintained a direct controlling interest in the management of the collieries and the ironworks, which was unusual.[3]

John and William Darwin & Co. of Sheffield opened the first furnace at Elsecar Ironworks (at the bottom of Forge Lane) in 1795. In 1799 another ironworks was founded at Milton by Walkers of Masborough, less than a mile to the west of Elsecar.[1] These came under the ownership of the Fitzwilliam family after their respective companies collapsed. In 1838 a horse-drawn tramroad was constructed to link Dearne and Dove Canal with the Milton Ironworks, Tankersley Park ironstone mines, Lidgett Colliery and the Thorncliffe Ironworks at Chapeltown. Stationary engines were used for the incline sections, and remained in operation until about 1880.[1]

There was also a distillery which opened in 1814; however, this only lasted four years. Two smaller family-run forges were also established in the mid 19th century and survived well into the 20th century. The two main forges were closed by the end of the century.

The last colliery to open was Elsecar Main in 1908: It was also the last to close, in 1983. In 1988 the last pit in the area, Cortonwood, also closed. Elsecar Workshops were sold off by British Coal the following year, ending the village's ties to the coal industry. The village suffered from similar economic problems to all the mining villages in the region. There are still outstanding applications for mining parts of the village but these are unlikely to be acted upon.

In March 2017 Elsecar was designated as one of ten Heritage Action Zones (HAZ) by Historic England with the benefit that the area would receive a share of £6 million.[4] As part of the HAZ project, in 2019 a Historic Area Assessment was developed, "intended to illustrate the varied character and significance of the village and its setting in order to inform interpretation, conservation and development under the direction of revised planning guidance".[3] To inform this, in 2017 Caesium magnetometer, Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and Earth Resistance Tomography (ERT) surveys were conducted at Elsecar to attempt to determine the location of a number of former industrial buildings.[5]


In 1910 a local amateur photographer, Herbert Parkin, took some photographs of the local reservoir and surrounding areas and sent them into the Sheffield Star under the caption Elsecar-by-the-Sea. The name caught on and with the help of a good transport link from Sheffield via the local railway station, a thriving tourism business was established. The Hoyland council decided to create a public park to take advantage of the influx. The name is still jokingly used by some locals and to advertise events around the reservoir.[6]


Elsecar Heritage Centre

The Elsecar Heritage Centre, a living history centre, contains the only Newcomen steam engine in the world to have remained in its original location.[7] Craft workshops, a monthly antique fair and other special events are also held at the centre.

Elsecar Park has a bandstand, children's playground, a refreshment room, and a pitch and putt golf course. The reservoir, now a local nature reserve, is adjacent to the upper park.

Various remains of the industry of the village also remain. A plaque next to the top lock on the canal marks the former location of a colliery. Some shaft heads from pumping stations remain standing along the canal. The remains of iron mines can be found in undergrowth on the wooded section of Broadcar Lane.


Elsecar has its own railway station on the Hallam and Penistone lines so it is possible to make direct journeys to Barnsley, Sheffield, Leeds, Huddersfield, and Wakefield. Buses run to and from Barnsley, Rotherham and Sheffield.

Elsecar Junction was located on the Woodhead Line, some distance from Elsecar, close to the Wath marshalling yard. The line including the marshalling yard closed in 1988.

Elsecar Heritage Railway
Elsecar Heritage Railway

The Elsecar Heritage Railway is based at the heritage centre. It runs a pleasure service between Rockingham Station (at the back of the heritage centre) and Hemingfield Basin; passengers cannot alight at Hemingfield Basin. There are plans to extend the line to Cortonwood and add regular stops. The railway is operated by steam locomotives, along with the "Earl of Strafford" diesel engine.

In 1793 An Act of Parliament authorised the making of the Dearne and Dove Canal between Swinton and Barnsley, with two branches, one to Worsbrough and another to Elsecar at a location then known as Cobcar Ing, a water meadow a few hundred yards from Elsecar New Colliery. Only the top pond is now usable but there are plans to restore the entire length.[1]


The village has its own cricket club, established in 1854, which plays in the South Yorkshire Cricket League.[8] It also has several junior teams that play in the Barnsley & District Junior Cricket Association.

It was represented in the FA Cup by Elsecar Main F.C. in the 1900s.

Notable people[edit]

  • George Utley, football player, was born in Reform Row in Elsecar.
  • Sir Thomas Tomlinson Kt, BEM, JP (1877–1959), served two terms as chairman of the West Riding County Council, lived in Elsecar.[7]
  • Arthur O'Loughlin, retired undefeated world kickboxing champion, lives in Elsecar.
  • Bobby Knutt, comedian and entertainer, lived in Elsecar for several years.
  • Laban Solomon (d. 1903), hymn composer and a favourite of Queen Victoria, lived on Church Street and is buried in Elsecar churchyard beneath a kneeling angel.[7]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Elsecar Appraisal" (PDF). barnsley.gov.uk. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  2. ^ "History of Elsecar, in Barnsley and West Riding | Map and description". www.visionofbritain.org.uk. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Rimmer, Jayne; Went, D.; Jessop, L (2019). "The Village of Elsecar, South Yorkshire: Historic Area Assessment. Historic England Research Report 6/2019". research.historicengland.org.uk. Retrieved 4 June 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ "Coventry and Hull among 10 'historic action zones'". BBC News. 20 March 2017. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  5. ^ Linford, N. T.; Linford, P. K.; Payne, A. W. (2017). "Elsecar, Barnsley: Report on Geophysical Survey, May 2017. Historic England Research Report 62/2017". research.historicengland.org.uk. Retrieved 4 June 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ "Elsecar Park". www.barnsley.gov.uk. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  7. ^ a b c Howse, Geoffrey (2014). The Little Book of Yorkshire. Stroud: The History Press. ISBN 9780750961165.
  8. ^ "Elsecar CC". elsecarmain.play-cricket.com. Retrieved 20 March 2017.

External links[edit]

Media related to Elsecar at Wikimedia Commons