Template:GBmap Barnsley is a large town in South Yorkshire, England, lying on the River Dearne, approximately twenty kilometres north of Sheffield. It is between junctions 36 and 37 of the M1 motorway and has a railway station served by the Hallam and Penistone Lines. It is the main town in the metropolitan borough of Barnsley.



The name Barnsley originates from the Anglo-Saxon description 'Beorn's lay' (where a 'lay' is a clearing). The town is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1089. In 1249 it was granted a Royal Charter to hold a market and annual fair.


The town is famous for coal mining, but all the mines have now closed. Barnsley is twinned with Schwäbisch Gmünd in Germany, and Gorlovka in Ukraine. The coat of arms for the town includes a coal miner and a glass-blower. It is now moving towards a service economy.

Buildings, Landmarks and Institutions

Alhambra Centre
Barnsley College
Locke Park
Cannon Hall Museum, Park & Gardens
Wentworth Castle & Gardens
Cooper Gallery


Famous people from Barnsley include Obadiah Walker, Joseph Locke, Joanne Harris, Joe Brammer, Michael Parkinson, Geoffrey Boycott, Brian Glover, Darren Gough, Harold Bird, Mick McCarthy, Arthur Scargill, Kate Rusby, Jenni Murray (, Charlie Williams, Stan Richards, John Mayock and Sam Nixon.

Barnsley is home to a proud tradition of Brass Bands, originally created as social clubs for the mining communities. Grimethorpe Colliery Band - located in a village 5 miles to the east of Barnsley - is perhaps the best brass band in Britain - it rose to fame in the film Brassed Off and is now the 'artist in residence' at the Royal College of Music, London. They have performed in Hyde Park during the Last Night of the Proms.

Ken Loach's film Kes was set and filmed in Barnsley.

There is a live rock music scene, which reached its height in the Britpop years, around 1997, due to its proximity to Sheffield and Manchester. Barnsley rock band Saxon were famous in the 1980s.

The Lamproom Theatre has its own theatrical company, and gives performances ranging from West End musicals to Shakespeare.

The 'Bard of Barnsley', Ian MacMillan, writes in local dialect, and was recently nominated for a chair of poetry at Oxford University.


Barnsley's past as a coal-mining centre came to an end in the era of the Thatcher Government. At this time the nationally-owned pits became uncompetitative with their European counterparts. The government closed the pits abruptly and an extended period of mass unemployment began. For a time, Barnsley was classed as the 31st most deprived area of the EU, and was voted the 'worst town in Britain' by the 1998 Guinness survey. However, Barnsley received many EU grants and although regeneration is now underway, it still falls behind the other local towns Doncaster, Wakefield, Sheffield and Leeds. The education system is a large problem. However, crime is lower in Barnsley than in almost all other "metropolitan" areas. Hi-tec business parks such as the Dearne Valley provide EU subsidies for startup firms, but are generally used by call centres setting up in the area because of low salary levels. Recreation is a major industry, with coach parties travelling from nearby towns to access Barnsley's acclaimed night-life. Sheffield's dry ski slope was created by former miners investing their redundancy money. Slazenger tennis balls [used at Wimbledon] were made in a Barnsley factory that was only recently bulldozed to make way for new housing.

More controversially, Barnsley is currently asking whether to rebrand itself to shed its coal-mining past. Plans are in progress to encircle the town with a 'ring of light'; a huge abstract sculpture of shapes and fluorescence. There is also a scheme to remodel much of the town's architecture on a 'Tuscan hill village' theme.

The question of whether to celebrate Barnsley's coal past or to look instead to the future is epitomised by The Plinth. The Plinth was built in the centre of the town for a statue. However there has been disagreement as to what the statue should be of. Traditionalists would like to see a miner, or perhaps Arthur Scargill. Futurists would prefer to leave those images behind and choose an emblem of the EU, or of technology. The best suggestion so far seems to be a statue of famous Barnsley Cricket umpire Dickie Bird, a symbol of good will and fair play.


Barnsley F.C. football team play in the Coca-Cola League Division 1, (the Second Division of the English league).


  • Clubs:
    • Club Hedonism
    • Heaven and Hell (formerly Regents Park)
  • Music venues:
    • Bodegas: live rock and heavy metal bands
    • Jazz: Live bands every Monday at Silkstone Lodge, Silkstone, also the Silver Leaf Jazz Band every Wednesday at the Strafford Arms, Wentworth.
    • The Theatre: britpop and indie bands
    • Panama Joe's: formerly a temperance hall now a pool hall

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