Whilst reading Black Diamonds: The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty by Catherine Bailey it occurred to me that I had not visited Elsecar Heritage Centre since I was a kid. I could only vaguely remember what it was like and so decided to take a trip over one sunny Friday afternoon.
As it was Friday, I assumed that it would be quiet. When I arrived, however, I was greeted by two almost full car parks. I can only imagine how busy it gets on a weekend. When I entered the heritage centre however, it was not overly busy. I assume most of the cars were people walking the Trans Pennine Trail.
Elsecar is a great example of a multi-use heritage site. It has a combination of shops, restaurants, a railway and visitor centre, all contained within the refurbished industrial buildings.
Elseacr was built by the 4th Earl of Fitzwilliam of the nearby Wentworth Estate. I do highly recommencement the book Black Diamonds if you are interested in finding out more about Wentworth, the Fitzwilliams and coal mining in the area.
The colliery at Elsecar was sunk in 1975. Ironstone was also mined nearby. A Beam Engine was built in order to extract water from the mine to allow deeper exploration. The Engine ran from 1795 to 1923, when it was replaced with electric pumps.
The workshops were built in 1850. After the nationalisation of the coal mines, the coal board took over the workshops in 1947. As the need for coal reduced and the pits were closed, there was also no requirement for the workshops and Beam Engine. The Department of Environment listed most of the buildings in 1986, as they were seen to be of special architectural or historic interest. In 1988 the Newcomen Beam Engine House and the workshops were purchased bu Barnsley Council who restored the buildings.