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Coordinates: 53°31′30″N 1°37′44″W / 53.525°N 1.629°W / 53.525; -1.629
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Market Street, Penistone
Penistone is located in South Yorkshire
Location within South Yorkshire
Population24,760 Wards (East and West) 2021
OS grid referenceSE 245 033
• London155 mi (249 km) SSE
Civil parish
  • Penistone
Metropolitan borough
Metropolitan county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townSheffield
Postcode districtS36
Dialling code01226
PoliceSouth Yorkshire
FireSouth Yorkshire
UK Parliament
List of places
53°31′30″N 1°37′44″W / 53.525°N 1.629°W / 53.525; -1.629

Penistone (/ˈpɛnɪstən/ PEN-iss-tən) is a market town and civil parish in the Metropolitan Borough of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England, which had a population of 24,760 at the 2021 census.[1] Historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire, it is 8 miles (13 km) west of Barnsley, 17 miles (27 km) north-east of Glossop, 14.2 miles (23 km) north-west of Sheffield, 27 miles (43 km) south-west of Leeds and 29 miles (47 km) east of Manchester in the foothills of the Pennines. The town is frequently noted on lists of unusual place names.

The highest point, Hartcliffe Tower, is 1,194 ft (364 m) above sea level and has views over the Woodhead bypass and the Dark Peak. The surrounding countryside is predominantly rural with farming on rich well-watered soil on mainly gentle slopes rising to the bleak moorland to the west of the town. Dry stone walls, small hamlets and farms surrounded by fields and livestock are synonymous with the area. The area is known for its rugged breed of sheep, the Whitefaced Woodland.

The market town itself stands at its highest point around St Johns Church at around 820 ft (250 m) above sea level. However, the surrounding land rises well over 1,000 ft (300 m) towards Cubley and Thurlstone Moors and out towards smaller hamlets at Carlecotes, Victoria, Dunford and Crow Edge, elevated at points above 1,200 ft (370 m). There are several vantage points around Penistone that afford panoramic views of the surrounding areas of West Yorkshire and North Derbyshire.


Peace Day in 1919


The place-name Penistone is first attested in the Domesday Book of 1086, where it appears as Pengeston(e) and Pangeston; later sources record it as Peningston.[2] It may mean "the farmstead at the hill called Penning", in reference to the high ridge immediately south of the town. This combines the Brittonic word penn (meaning a head, end, or height) with the Old English suffix ing and the word tun (meaning a farmstead or village).[3]

Penistone has frequently been noted on lists of unusual place-names because it contains the letter sequence "penis";[4][5] however, those initial five letters are not pronounced like the name of the body part.

Mediaeval history[edit]

In 1066, the township was owned by Ailric. It was razed in 1069 in the Harrying of the North following the Norman Conquest; the Domesday Book described the settlement in 1086 as "waste".

Sir Gyles Penyston (fl. 13th century), whose family seat was in Cornwall (perhaps at Truro) before his time, and who is an ancestor of the Penyston Baronets, was styled of Penyston, denoting that he resided in Penistone.[6]


The town was renowned for its Penistone cloth (or "forest white"), a rough, home-spun cloth.[7] In a law passed in 1601 (43 Eliz. 1 cap. 10) regulating the working of cloth, penalties were set out for weavers found to be making Penistone cloth of inferior quality.[8] Until the eighteenth century, home weavers in the area brought their products to town for sale in an annual cloth fair but in 1768 a Cloth Hall (or "piece hall") was built by subscription to facilitate regular sales to wool merchants.[9]

Sheep sales have been held in the town since before 1699, when the market received a royal charter and the area produced the now rare Penistone sheep.[10]


The town remained small until the coming of the railway in 1845, although several pre-19th century buildings survive. The oldest still standing is Penistone Church. This is the Grade I listed mediaeval parish church, St John the Baptist Church. The White Hart pub in the town dates from 1377. Penistone had a market for a long time before its royal charter was granted in 1699, although its historic livestock market was closed recently to make way for town centre re-development. A new landmark building has been built in Penistone for the Market Place. This is an oaken Cruck Barn and was built by Carpenter Oak of Totnes, Devon.


A map of Penistone from 1954 that shows the railway

The Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway opened on 15 July 1845, on a route via Penistone, Dunford Bridge and the three-mile long Woodhead Tunnel. Construction conditions were difficult and 32 men died during the tunnel's construction, including 28 from cholera.

The Penistone to Huddersfield railway line opened on 1 July 1850. Penistone became a railway junction, with a depot for engineering trains. Penistone station had frequent train services to Manchester, Sheffield and Huddersfield.

Penistone's 29-arch viaduct was built in 1849 by Messrs. Ingham and Bower. Stone was obtained from Walk Mill Bank, Oxspring, and was conveyed by a tramway on the side of the River Don. The second and third arches of Penistone Viaduct collapsed on 2 February 1916, when heavy rain weakened the foundations; the driver and fireman of a stationary goods locomotive were able to jump clear and survive the collapse. Cracks in the parapet had been observed some days earlier. The viaduct was repaired and was back in service in August of the same year.

The town was served by the Woodhead Line between Manchester London Road and Sheffield Victoria. Following major investment, which started in 1935 but was delayed by the Second World War, the electrification of the railway was completed in 1954 and the line's power control centre was built adjacent to Penistone station. The building still stands and has been converted for commercial use. The Woodhead Line was the first main line railway in the UK to be electrified, but its once-pioneering 1500 V DC system became non-standard.

Although the Beeching Report recommended the closure of the Hope Valley line and the retention of Woodhead services, the government chose to implement the opposite; Woodhead Line passenger services beyond Hadfield ended on 5 January 1970. Goods trains, mainly coal, continued to travel through the station for a further 11 years when the line was closed controversially between Penistone and Hadfield in July 1981; the track was lifted several years later. The route of the track is now used as part of the Trans-Pennine Trail.


Penistone railway station

Penistone railway station is on the Penistone Line, which provides passenger trains to Huddersfield, Barnsley and Sheffield. Services are generally hourly in each direction, operated by Northern Trains.

Bus services in the area are operated by Stagecoach Yorkshire, South Pennine Community Transport, Globe Holidays (Barnsley) and TM Travel. Routes connect Penistone with Barnsley, Holmfirth, Sheffield, Stocksbridge and Thurgoland.


Penistone was a parish in the wapentake of Staincross in the West Riding of Yorkshire and after 1837 was a member of the Wortley Poor law union.[11]

Penistone was in the Barnsley West and Penistone constituency until the 2010 general election when it became part of the newly created Penistone and Stocksbridge constituency.

Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council is responsible for local government issues and Penistone Town Council, based at Penistone Town Hall, is responsible for local issues.[12]


Penistone is situated on the south bank of the River Don. The parish, which included Gunthwaite, Hunshelf, Ingbirchworth, Langsett, Oxspring, and Thurlstone, covered 21,338 acres, mostly arable land and pasture and 2,000 acres of moorland. The underlying geology is the coal measures of the South Yorkshire Coalfield, from which some coal was mined in the 19th century, and sandstone flags were quarried.[11]


The cattle market pre-1914

Penistone has a thriving market, although smaller since the building of a Tesco supermarket in 2011, which reduced the market footprint. The cattle market, which was the centre of the farming livestock trade, and the Fur n Feathers market, have long since gone. At 747 feet (228 metres) elevation, Penistone is among the highest market towns in Yorkshire.

The Market Cruck Barn was officially opened on 21 July 2011. Penistone Farmers' Market is a monthly farmers' market on the second Saturday of every month held in the market place.


St John the Baptist Church


Penistone Paramount Cinema

Local news and television programmes are provided by BBC Yorkshire and ITV Yorkshire. Television signals are received from the Emley Moor TV transmitter.[15]

Local radio stations are BBC Radio Sheffield on 104.1 FM, Capital Yorkshire on 105.6 FM, Heart Yorkshire on 106.2 FM, Hallam FM on 102.9 FM and Penistone FM, formed in 2005, is a not-for-profit community radio which broadcasts on 95.7 FM. Ofcom granted it a licence to broadcast in December 2007. Test transmissions began in May 2009 and the station was officially launched in June 2009,[16] with its licence running for five years. The licence was renewed for a further five years, to finish in June 2019.

Penistone is also served by commercial radio station Dearne FM, which broadcasts to Barnsley, Penistone and the Dearne Valley areas in South Yorkshire on the dedicated frequency of 97.1 FM. Test transmissions started in September 2003 on both 97.1 and the Barnsley and Dearne Valley frequency (102.0) before the station's official launch on 5 October 2003.

The town is served by the local newspaper, Barnsley Chronicle. [17]

Sport and recreation[edit]

  • The local football team is Penistone Church F.C., who play home matches at the Memorial Ground in Church View Road.[18]
  • Penistone Cricket and Sports Club has a ground in Sheffield Road.[18]
  • Penistone Paramount Cinema
  • Penistone Gymnastics Club
  • Penistone Footpath Runners and Athletics Club
  • Penistone Bowling Club, Back Lane.
  • Quest Taekwondo Penistone
  • Barnsley FC local professional football club


Grammar school[edit]

Penistone Grammar School was founded in 1392. Notable former pupils include the blind mathematician Nicholas Saunderson, and Anne Campbell, who served as MP for Cambridge until May 2005. Most of the old school was demolished in 2011 and a new school built. Other local schools include St John's Primary School, Spring Vale Primary School and Thurlstone Primary School.


Pancake Day. In the early 20th century it was the custom in the town for the church to ring a pancake bell on Shrove Tuesday.[19]

March. Penistone Arts Weeks returned in 2022.[20]

The annual Penistone Mayor's Parade Weekend is in June. It consists of two concerts, a parade and a gala.[21]

The first Penistone Folk Festival took place in June 2011 in the Market Barn. This is planned to be an annual charity event and occurs at around the same date as the earlier 'Penistone Sing', on the festival of St John, to whom the parish church is dedicated.

Penistone Literary Festival ('Pen-Lit') was started in 2014.

August. On Yorkshire Day, 1 August 2006, the now annual gathering of lord mayors, mayors and other civic heads from Yorkshire was held at Penistone. The day included a service at the parish church, a parade around the town, films and an evening of music at the Paramount Cinema and an exhibition at St John's Community Centre, and Hartcliff Tower was opened to the public. There were Morris dancers, a farmers' market, a shop-window competition and a historic organ concert at St Andrews Church.

September. Penistone Show is an annual agricultural show. It is held on the second Saturday in September. As well as ordinary agricultural categories for sheep, cows, goats and poultry entries are received in horticulture, handicraft, show jumping, pigeons, dogs, photography and other categories.

Penistone's Annual Competitive Music Festival is held at Penistone Grammar School on the last Saturday of September. The event was founded by Millhouse Green Male Voice Choir and was in its 48th year in 2016.

Notable people[edit]

Fairtrade Town[edit]

On 26 February 2007 the town was officially declared a Fairtrade Town.[23]

Twin towns[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Office for National Statistics Census 2021 - Age (Penistone East/Penistone West)". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 6 November 2023.
  2. ^ "Key to English Place-Names, Penistone". kepn.nottingham.ac.uk. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  3. ^ Eilert Ekwall, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-names, p.362.
  4. ^ Lyall, Sarah (22 January 2009). "No Snickering: That Road Sign Means Something Else". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  5. ^ "13 Town Names We Can't Stop Laughing Over". Cosmopolitan. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  6. ^ Barns-Graham, Peter (22 May 2009). "Pennyston1". Families Database. [Stirnet](subscription required). Retrieved 4 April 2012.
  7. ^ Picken, Mary Brooks (1999). A dictionary of costume and fashion : historic and modern : with over 950 illustrations. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications. p. 247. ISBN 978-0-486-40294-9.
  8. ^ Pickering, Danby (1763). Statutes at Large. Vol. VII. London: Charles Bathurst. pp. 56–57. OCLC 560464092.
  9. ^ Historic England. "1 AND 3, MARKET STREET, Penistone (1314710)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 3 April 2023.
  10. ^ "Oklahoma State University website – page about Penistone sheep". Archived from the original on 3 November 2008. Retrieved 21 May 2008.
  11. ^ a b Lewis, Samuel (1848). "Penistone (St. John the Baptist)". A Topographical Dictionary of England. British History Online. pp. 545–549.
  12. ^ "Ordinary Town Council meeting" (PDF). Penistone Town Council. 22 April 2024. Retrieved 28 May 2024.
  13. ^ "St. Andrews, Penistone". The United Reformed Church in Sheffield. Retrieved 19 July 2021.
  14. ^ "Penistone Community Church". Penistone Community Church. Retrieved 19 July 2021.
  15. ^ "Emley Moor (Kirklees, England) Full Freeview transmitter". UK Free TV. 1 May 2004. Retrieved 22 February 2024.
  16. ^ "History". Penistone FM. Retrieved 19 July 2021.
  17. ^ "Barnsley Chronicle". British Papers. 1 August 2013. Retrieved 22 February 2024.
  18. ^ a b "CASC Registered Clubs". HM Revenue & Customs. 3 July 2009. Retrieved 2 August 2009.
  19. ^ "OLD LENTERN FARE". Globe. 1 March 1911. p. 1.
  20. ^ "Penistone arts weeks returns". Around town magazine. Retrieved 27 May 2022.
  21. ^ "2022 Events". Penistone Pictorial. Retrieved 28 May 2022.
  22. ^ "Former Town skipper turned down bigger offers to join Barnsley". Halifax Courier. 28 May 2015. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  23. ^ "Fairtrade Towns". Archived from the original on 1 February 2010. Retrieved 28 November 2008.
  24. ^ "UK Twin Towns". Dorset Twinning Association. Archived from the original on 24 June 2007. Retrieved 30 June 2007.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]