New history boards sharing the rich stories of the Elsecar Valley have been installed as part of a series of improvements to the Trans Pennine Trail.
The boards, found on the section of the TPT running alongside the former towpath of the Elsecar branch of the Dearne and Dearne Canal, opened in 1798, reveal snapshots of life and industry over the last 250 years. They include photographs and reconstructions of local collieries and the barges that took Elsecar coal and iron across the UK and to east coast ports, from where they were then taken worldwide. As well as celebrating the past, the new installations also represent the present, including the thousands who walk, run and ride along it each month, its rich biodiversity and wildlife, and the committed volunteers who look after the canal and heritage sites.
Boards have also been revealed at the Forge Playing Field, once home to the famous Milton Ironworks and Elsecar Park, which became famous across the region as ‘Elsecar-by-the-Sea, the seaside resort at the heart of the Yorkshire coalfield’.
Many of the images used in the boards are taken from the Elsecar 1880 digital reconstruction, created last year by Barnsley Museums working in partnership with local community groups. The film has had a brilliant response online and can be watched in ultra-high resolution in the Elsecar Visitor Centre and online.
The whole valley was once owned by the Earls Fitzwilliam of Wentworth Woodhouse, who transformed Elsecar from a small rural hamlet to an international centre of industry, one of the UK’s first model villages and a precursor to places like Saltaire.
Created thanks to funding from the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority, the project is a partnership between Barnsley Museums, the Trans Pennine Trail and Barnsley Council, supported by community groups, including the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery and the Mates of Milton.
Cllr Robert Frost, Cabinet Spokesperson for Regeneration and Culture, said, ‘Elsecar Valley is loved as a place for people to explore, to get active and make memories. We are extremely pleased to be able to share these stories of its proud heritage and the committed local people who look after its special places.’
Cllr Wilson, Chair of the Trans Pennine Trail Partnership said: “It’s wonderful to see interpretation included in this project – what better way to tell the story of our bygone days to visitors young and old.”