Barnsley – Experience Barnsley

I’ve finally got chance to work through my little backlog of posts that I wanted to write but never got chance to (or did get chance to, but I went to the pub)…..

This is Barnsley’s town hall, which was controversial when it was built in the 1930s because it was so expensive. Today it’s still used by the council, but it’s primarily the museum and local archives and there’s a new building nearby for the council staff.

I thought that the museum would be a bit dull, as they really pushed how interactive and modern it was. Sometimes, if I’m being honest, this means that they’ve taken out all the interesting bits and put in some screens that don’t work and aimed the whole arrangement at children. I have to say though that this wasn’t the case here, it was a brilliantly laid out museum which had lots of information about the town’s history.

The museum are very proud of this, a fire engine from 1791 which is thought to be the only one linked to the English inventor Joseph Bramah which still survives. It was the first that Bramah built and was used by the Wentworth Castle estate from 1791, where it remained until 1949. It was then given to Barnsley Fire Brigade who probably wondered what on earth they were going to do with it. It moved about to a number of locations before being moved to this museum when it opened in 2013.

The museum looks bright and modern, but there’s plenty of information on those boards for people who like reading things (people like me).

This is rather lovely, a grant which dates to the early twelfth century and is the oldest document which is held by Barnsley Archives. It is a grant which transferred 20 acres of land from Adam, son of Swain, Lord of Newall, to Adam Beccon, his godson. The payment was a red rose annually if it was requested, which sounds like a good deal for the godson.

A hoard of Roman coins rating from between the first to third centuries that was found in the town, evidence that there was some local activity in the Roman period.

The Moot Hall Clock, which was located on, well, Moot Hall, until 1822. This was the centre of excitement in Barnsley with meetings upstairs and floggings downstairs, it all sounds really quite intriguing. It was made by the local clockmaker Tobias Fletcher in the 1790s and was taken down when the building was demolished in the 1820s.

The ‘This is Your Life’ book which was given to the comedian Charlie Williams.

I’ve seen the film Kes a couple of times, this display contains a signed photo from Ken Loach and a taxidermy kestrel.

The England football cap which belonged to Ernest Hines, dating to 1929 and 1930.

This tray was kept as it served the last pint of Barnsley Bitter.

A “coal not dole” helmet worn by Rita Brenton, as Barnsley was once a mining town although the last one closed in the 1990s.

All in all, I thought that this was a really well put together museum and given that there was free entry, there was nothing for me to find fault in. An excellent example of a provincial museum where the money has been spent wisely, so I can see why it has won a number of awards recently.