A Short History of Barnsley


Barnsley, a prominent town in South Yorkshire County traces its origin down the lineage of Norman IIbert de Lace. First reference to this town is seen in the Doomsday Book. In this book, it’s called Berneslai and its population at the time was 200.

The town was handed down to IIbert de Lace after the Norman invasion that had taken place years earlier. Norman’s son, Robert, is well known as the founder of the priory of St. John the Evangelist in Pontefract. In 1090, Henry the son of Robert gave out the town to the priory. He did it as an act of endowment.

Growth of Barnsley into a commercial town

Barnsley was granted a permit to hold weekly markets and an annual affair in 1249. The market would be held on every Wednesday while the annual affair would last four days at Michaelmas. May Day Green Market, a prominent historical feature in Barnsley today was established at the same time.

From the 17th C onward, the town grew into a stop off center. People on the route between Sheffield, Wakefield, Landon and Leeds made the town their stop off point. Of course this resulted into trade. Hostelries and services related to it flourished.  Two centuries later, the center had already developed into a linen weaving hub. In fact, by 1974, the town had well over 500 looms. Manufacturing took center stage later which saw it grow to become a large trade centre.


Glass making is also another tradition so often associated with Barnsley. But the most famous of all commercial activities remains to be the coal industry. Midway into the 20th C, Barnsley had a total of 70 collieries lying just within a 15-mile radius of the town’s center. However, by 1994, almost all of them had been closed.


Emergence of Amenities and Modernisation

Come 1800, Barnsley was no longer just a centre. A few years earlier, an act of parliament had allowed numerous moors, commons and the waste ground to be enclosed to pave way for construction. Industrialisation is said to have found its first foot at this time.

Its population then was 3,600. As the 19th C neared a close, Barnsley had already earned its status as a town in its own right. Lighting, water, pavements and cleansing departments, a railway line, come into existence during this time.

Barnsley come to be a County Borough in 1913. Several years later, in the 70s, additional restructuring resulted in it becoming a Metropolitan Borough.

Barnsley Today

A futuristic plan dubbed ‘Re-making Barnsley’, started off by the town’s administration is currently underway. Through this ambitious plan, the town hopes to transform itself into a metropolis come a few decades later.

Commuters who operate in Sheffield and Leeds mostly use the town as a stop-over point to not only catch sleep but also take a rest. And if you are looking for place to set up a home, this town is your ideal place. It’s grown to be a much sought after area by many people.

Commercially, the town is today a huge commercial centre evidenced by its thriving hospitality industry and the hundreds of shops and businesses, including well-known brands such as Pollyanna. Not forgetting to mention the theatres, art gallery, design center and a range of decent restaurants and places to stay.

Barnsley prides itself in having plenty to offer to everyone who visits.