About Barnsley

History of Barnsley

Barnsley has a long history, both as a market and mining town in Yorkshire, from at least the 11th century. In 1086, the town was referred to in the Doomsday Book as ‘Berneslai’. Barnsley is perhaps best known for its prominence in the coal mining industry, and in the some parts of the area there is evidence of mining more than two hundred years before the Norman invasion.

Barnsley also has a history of glass making, producing glass beer and pickle bottles. As some industries declined, others were successful and Barnsley’s place in the coal mining industry remained prominent until the mid 1940s when the seams started to be mined out. Mining still continued in the Yorkshire coalfields but by the 1970s, the industry was in fast decline. The end of the mining industry in Barnsley followed the Miners’ Strike of 1984 and 1985. By 1992, only two pits remained and by the end of that year they too were headed for closure.

Coal mining once accounted for more than 30,000 jobs in Barnsley. Today, the town is home to a more diverse economy. Barnsley manages to combine the best of traditional trade and innovative business with local people striving to bring new and exciting industries to Barnsley. Since the opening of the Digital Media Centre, situated in the heart of Barnsley, a variety of businesses have been attracted to the area, from internet advertising companies, consultancy, IT and media services to name but a few.

In days gone by, Barnsley has been home to some notable historical figures.  Engineers such as Joseph Bramah, who invented the hydraulic press, and Joseph Locke, a pioneer of British railway development, were both sons of Barnsley and have helped shape the world we live in today. The work of the great missionary James Hudson Taylor in the 1800s is also a fantastic reminder of the valuable contributions the people of Barnsley have made to society, both in the UK and across the globe.
Barnsley is a place with a great record of recent achievement too. The successes of figures like renowned broadcasters Michael Parkinson and Jenni Murray, best-selling novelist Milly Johnson and of course the legendary cricket umpire Dickie Bird, are testament to the pedigree of the people of Barnsley.                                                                                  

Despite its industrial heritage, Barnsley is over 70% rural, and as such has become a sought after location for families to set up home. With over 600 shops and businesses, Pollyanna, excellent restaurants, a good selection of live music venues, a flourishing culture scene, a proud football club and the new Experience Barnsley Museum opening in June, Barnsley truly has something for everyone.

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