Lockdown and enforced social isolation is taking its toll on all of us. Next Monday marks 8 weeks since the Prime Minister announced that we must stay at home, apart from for essential travel, to contain the spread of the Coronavirus. The lockdown is starting to take effect in reducing the rate of transmission and preventing our NHS from being overwhelmed. However, we cannot ignore the considerable personal burden this places on everyone who is apart from their families, not knowing when they will be reunited, or are experiencing ‘cabin fever’ at being cooped up at home with nowhere to go.
It’s been difficult for my family and I; getting to grips with working and learning remotely and having us all around the house. Lockdown has given me some time to think about the brilliant art, culture and heritage we’ve got right here on our doorstep in Barnsley. The Coronavirus is having a profoundly damaging impact on local businesses, and is hitting our local visitor attractions particularly hard, but we can all do our bit to support them post-lockdown. I’m planning which attractions I’m going to visit as life starts to return to normal. Where are you going to visit after lockdown?
For those who enjoy exploring the great outdoors, we’ve got some fantastic parks and gardens – such as the historic Walled Gardens at Cannon Hall Farm (with accompanying petting zoo for the younger members of the family) or Worsbrough Mill and Country Park that offers beautiful scenery alongside the chance to learn about the milling process and production of flour. If, like many people, you’ve taken up lockdown baking – why not use locally sourced flour from Worsbrough Mill in your future recipes? Since being elected as South Yorkshire Mayor two years ago I’ve spent a lot of time working on improving our transport systems – if you’re also a transport enthusiast, Elsecar Heritage Centre has a working steam engine that you can try your hand at driving. A day out that is a firm favourite with my family is the internationally renowned Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which combines the stunning scenery of Bretton Park with some truly ground-breaking artistic displays.
Those who are keen to find out more about our town’s history can always visit the Experience Barnsley Museum for a whistle stop tour through our past, from prehistoric times right up to the present day. Or you can take in the stunning Gothic architecture at Stainborough Castle and explore the Wentworth Castle Gardens. A little further off the beaten track is the Maurice Dobson Museum in Darfield, a former sweetshop lovingly converted into a tribute to the village’s heritage; and Pot House Hamlet at Silkstone – which boasts a great seed nursery, free petting farm and delicious ice-cream!
Right in the heart of our town centre, we’ve got an amazing quartet of cultural venues – the Civic and Lamproom Theatres, the Parkway Cinema and the Cooper Gallery – which bring art, film, drama, live music and stand-up comedy to Barnsley, against the backdrop of the town centre regeneration and the Glass Works Project that is rapidly taking shape; a development that will transform our town centre and bring a new generation of visitors to experience all that Barnsley has got to offer.
Where are you planning to visit when lockdown is fully lifted? To an old favourite that brings back memories of family days out? Or a new gem to explore? Barnsley has great places to visit – let’s make sure we make the most of them and support our local visitor attractions as soon as we are able!
This article was originally published in the Barnsley Chronicle on 22 May 2020.