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A History of Barnsley


Barnsley owes its existence to monks. Even though a town existed earlier, it was the monks who really built it up. They set up the town at the junction of three roads leading to Sheffield, Leeds, London, and Wakefield. The name Barnsley is said to be a fusion of Barn and Lay. In the same town the monks also had a chapel and a market.

Barnsley is one of the oldest towns to receive a charter, way back in 1249. With the charter, the town began to trade at the market once a week and could hold one fair annually. The number of fairs later rose to three in a year. Its position as a stop over point led to increased trade in the town. It also developed additional professions including a textile and a glass-making factory in the 18th century. However, the town is famously known for coal. The famous writer George Orwell lived in the town too at some point in his life. He speaks fondly of the town in his book, ‘The Road to Wigan Pier‘.

The modern day Barnsley town was built in the 1960s. It has many shopping complexes and convenience stores on the main streets. The town has a large number of bars in the central business district.

As mentioned before, Barnsley is famous for its huge deposits of coal. This is aptly captured in its coat of arms, which has a glass-blower and a coal miner. Most of the mining was done in the villages around, and not in the town itself. A good proportion of the local population was employed in the mines at all times. All the mines are now closed. By 1991, the main colliery in the town closed down too.

Other booming industries in the town over the years have been textile, glass making and wire manufacture. But so far the others have closed down and only the glass-manufacturing factory is still in operation. Generally, unemployment is very low in the town and its surrounding suburb areas. This is largely due to the fact that most of the town’s residents are now in the service industry.

The town has over the years built town museums and several recreational gardens. Since 2002, the town has been heavily involved in restructuring and re-building itself. There is a new road interchange which is still being built as well as a cultural centre. The construction infrastructure boom also buoys the town.

Posted in: Latest News - On: 11th of June, 2011