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Elsecar (// (listen), locally //) is a village in the Metropolitan Borough of Barnsley in South Yorkshire, England. Like many villages in the area, it was for many years a colliery village until the widespread pit closures during the 1980s. Elsecar is near the town of Hoyland and the villages of Jump and Wentworth. Elsecar is 1.5 miles (2.4 km) south of Hoyland, 6 miles (9.7 km) south of Barnsley and 8 miles (13 km) north-east of Sheffield. The village falls within the Barnsley MBC Ward of Hoyland Milton.
Holy Trinity Parish Church in Elsecar
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Elsecar is unique as a name. It is thought to derive from the Old English personal name of Aelfsige (mentioned in Cartulary of Nostell Priory, 1259–66) and the Old Norse word kjarr, used to denote a marsh or brushwood.
In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Elsecar as having a population of 1912 and 353 dwelling places.
Elsecar was nothing more than a series of farms up until the 18th century. Although coal had been mined in the area since the 14th century the first colliery, Elsecar Old, did not open until 1750. The first proper mine shaft was sunk in 1795 at Elsecar New Colliery. The village was formed to take advantage of the coal resources in the area, the seams of the Carboniferous Middle Coal Measures, the Kents Thick and Kents Thin coal seams. Many of the new buildings were built by the Earl Fitzwilliam, who resided in nearby Wentworth Woodhouse, to house their workers. By the end of the century, several pits were opened. The Fitzwilliams dictated the provision of housing and social institutions at Elsecar throughout the nineteenth century. They also maintained a direct controlling interest in the management of the collieries and the ironworks, which was unusual.
John and William Darwin & Co. of Sheffield opened the first furnace at Elsecar Ironworks (at the bottom of Forge Lane) in 1795. In 1799 another ironworks was founded at Milton by Walkers of Masborough, less than a mile to the west of Elsecar. These came under the ownership of the Fitzwilliam family after their respective companies collapsed. In 1838 a horse-drawn tramroad was constructed to link Dearne and Dove Canal with the Milton Ironworks, Tankersley Park ironstone mines, Lidgett Colliery and the Thorncliffe Ironworks at Chapeltown. Stationary engines were used for the incline sections, and remained in operation until about 1880.
There was also a distillery which opened in 1814; however, this only lasted four years. Two smaller family-run forges were also established in the mid 19th century and they survived well into the 20th century. The two main forces were closed by the end of the century.
The last colliery to open was Elsecar Main in 1908: It was also the last to close in 1983. In 1988 the last pit in the area, Cortonwood, also closed. Elsecar Workshops were sold off by British Coal the following year, ending the village's ties to the coal industry. The village suffered from similar economic problems to all the mining villages in the region. There are still outstanding applications for mining parts of the village but these are unlikely to be acted upon.
In March 2017 Elsecar was designated as one of 10 Heritage Action Zones (HAZ) by Historic England with the benefit that the area would benefit from a share of £6m. Elsecar's development can be seen as a microcosm of the whole Industrial Revolution in Britain. As part of the HAZ project, in 2019 a Historic Area Assessment was developed "intended to illustrate the varied character and significance of the village and its setting in order to inform interpretation, conservation and development under the direction of revised planning guidance." To inform this, in 2017 Caesium magnetometer, Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and Earth Resistance Tomography (ERT) surveys were conducted at Elsecar to attempt to determine the location of a number of former industrial buildings.
In 1910 a local amateur photographer, Herbert Parkin, took some photographs of the local reservoir and surrounding areas and sent them into the Sheffield Star under the caption Elsecar-by-the-Sea. The name caught on and with the help of good transports link from Sheffield via the local railway station, a thriving tourism business was established. The Hoyland council decided to create the public park to take advantage of the influx. The name is still jokingly used by some locals and to advertise events around the reservoir.
Elsecar features the popular Elsecar Heritage Centre a living history centre and contains the only Newcomen steam engine in the world to have remained in its original location. Craft workshops, a monthly antique fair and other special events are also held here.
Various remains of the industry of the village also remain. There is a plaque next to the top lock on the canal marking the former location of a colliery. Along the canal, there are also some shaft heads from pumping stations left standing. The remains of iron mines can be found in undergrowth on the wooded section of Broadcar Lane.
Elsecar has its own railway station on the Hallam and Penistone lines so it is possible to make direct journeys to Barnsley, Sheffield, Leeds, Huddersfield, and Wakefield. Buses run to and from Barnsley, Rotherham and Sheffield.
A railway junction named "Elsecar Junction" was located on the (now closed) Woodhead Line, some distance from Elsecar, close to the Wath marshalling yard. The line through Elsecar Junction, including Wath marshalling yard, closed in 1988.
The Elsecar Heritage Railway is based at the heritage centre. It currently runs between Rockingham Station (at the back of the heritage centre) and Hemingfield Basin. This service is currently for pleasure only; you cannot alight at Hemingfield Basin. There are plans to extend the line to Cortonwood and add regular stops. The railway is operated by steam locomotives, along with the "Earl of Strafford" diesel engine.
In 1793 An Act of Parliament authorised the making of the Dearne and Dove Canal between Swinton and Barnsley, with two branches, one to Worsbrough and another to Elsecar at a location then known as Cobcar Ing, a water meadow a few hundred yards from Elsecar New Colliery. Currently, only the top pond is usable but there are plans to restore the entire length.
The village has its own cricket club, established in 1854, which plays in the South Yorkshire Cricket League. It also has several junior teams that play in the Barnsley & District Junior Cricket Association.
- George Utley, Football player who turned out for Barnsley F.C., captained Sheffield United F.C. and played once England was born in Reform Row in Elsecar. He also won two FA Cup winners medals, one with each of his clubs.
- Sir Thomas Tomlinson Kt, BEM, JP (1877–1959) Tommy Tomlinson, as he was affectionately known locally, was one of the area's best known residents for over forty years and lived at 20 Fitzwilliam Street. In 1910 he became branch secretary of the Yorkshire Miners' Association and was elected to Hoyland UDC for the Elsecar ward in 1912 and to the West Riding County Council in 1921. Continuing as a Councillor for Hoyland UDC until 1940, he was chairman in 1921-3 and 1933-5. He occupied various posts at the Wesleyan Reform Church. He became a County Alderman in 1929 and was Chairman of the West Riding County Council 1946-9 and 1952-5. He was awarded the BEM (British Empire Medal) in 1945 and knighted in 1954.
- Arthur O'Loughlin, retired undefeated World kickboxing champion, was brought up in Hoyland and now lives in Elsecar with his wife, Christine. Arthur now owns 'Locky's', a bar in nearby Wombwell.
- Bobby Knutt, popular comedian and entertainer, lived in Elsecar for several years.
- Laban Solomon, who lived on Church Street and died in 1903, aged 61, is buried in Elsecar churchyard beneath a kneeling angel, near the Wath Road. He was a well known composer, he being a particular favourite of Queen Victoria. He composed hymn tunes and other sacred music. He wrote tunes for such well known hymns as 'Oh, so bright' and 'All hail the power of Jesus' name,' as well as some more obscure ones, some written by the Rev E Doughty Solomon, a relation of his. For Sunday School Anniversaries he also supplied orchestral parts by post.
- "Elsecar Appraisal" (PDF). barnsley.gov.uk. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
- "History of Elsecar, in Barnsley and West Riding | Map and description". www.visionofbritain.org.uk. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
- Rimmer, Jayne; Went, D; Jessop, L (2019). "The Village of Elsecar, South Yorkshire: Historic Area Assessment. Historic England Research Report 6/2019". research.historicengland.org.uk. Retrieved 4 June 2020.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- "Coventry and Hull among 10 'historic action zones'". BBC News. 20 March 2017. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
- Linford, N T; Linford, P K; Payne, A W (2017). "Elsecar, Barnsley: Report on Geophysical Survey, May 2017. Historic England Research Report 62/2017". research.historicengland.org.uk. Retrieved 4 June 2020.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- "Elsecar Park". www.barnsley.gov.uk. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
- "Elsecar CC". elsecarmain.play-cricket.com. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
- Population figures[permanent dead link]
- Howse, Geoffrey (1999), Around Hoyland, Sutton Publishing Limited, ISBN 0-7509-2268-0
- Howse, Geoffrey (2000), Around Hoyland A Second Selection, Sutton Publishing Limited, ISBN 0-7509-2726-7
- Howse, Geoffrey (2002) Around Hoyland People & Places, Sutton Publishing, ISBN 0-7509-3148-5
Media related to Elsecar at Wikimedia Commons