Buildings 20a and 21, former rolling mill at Elsecar Ironworks, including two halved colliery pit wheels


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
Elsecar Heritage Centre, Wath Road, Elsecar, Barnsley, S74 8HJ


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Statutory Address:
Elsecar Heritage Centre, Wath Road, Elsecar, Barnsley, S74 8HJ

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Barnsley (Metropolitan Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


A production building of Elsecar Ironworks, 1850, where heated wrought iron was rolled to form plates, rails and bars. In 2020 in use as a large event hall.

Reasons for Designation

The former rolling mill at Elsecar Ironworks, 1850, Buildings 20a & 21 at Elsecar Heritage Centre, are listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest: * as an impressive mid-C19 iron-framed modular building; * for its technologically interesting composite roof structure which makes effective use of timber and iron (both cast and wrought iron) elements, an approach widely used for early railway station roofs which rarely survive, the later addition of mild steel trusses adding to the interest. * as a nationally rare surviving example of a rolling mill, a key surviving building of William and George Dawes’s mid-Victorian modernisation of Elsecar Ironworks.

Historic interest: * the building where the armour plating for Britain’s first ironclad warship, HMS Warrior, was rolled.

Group value: * with the other surviving roofed buildings and extensive archaeological remains of the scheduled Elsecar Ironworks, one of the best surviving C19 ironworks in England; * as part of the complex of buildings which formed Elsecar Central Workshops, this remarkable survival of an early and influential centralised workshop facility which absorbed a number of ironworks buildings after the closure of the ironworks.


Elsecar Ironworks was established in 1795. The rolling mill was built in 1850 as one of the first new developments at Elsecar Ironworks carried out by William and George Dawes who had taken over the works under lease from Earl Fitzwilliam in 1849. An iron-framed building with design similarities to the 1840 train shed at Euston, London, it is presumed that the ironwork was cast at the works. In 1859 Elsecar Ironworks produced the plating for HMS Warrior, the Royal Navy’s first ironclad warship, the plates thought to have been rolled within this building. In 1860 the building was extended southwards by a further two bays (being the section now known as Building 20a) using the same patterns for the cast iron components used for the rest of the building. The ironworks closed in 1885, the rolling mill building being one of those retained and absorbed into Earl Fitzwilliam’s Central Workshops complex that had been established in the 1850s to service his collieries and estate. The originally open sides to the building were infilled, probably at different stages given the varying designs of infilling and openings. The panels on the eastern side are generally in stonework, perhaps mainly late C19, those on the western side are generally brickwork, mostly probably early C20, but with those to the south being late C20. The 1901 Ordnance Survey map shows that the extension built 1860 was connected to the railway via a waggon turntable, perhaps indicating its use as a workshop or stores. By the 1929 map this arrangement had been removed, but a new siding then entered the building through the centre of the northern gable. The building is noted as being used as a waggon workshop up until 1950. Sometime after 1956 extensions were added to the southern end and north eastern corner by the National Coal Board, these are not of special interest and are not included in the listing. Around 1990 the building was converted as part of the Elsecar Heritage Centre into an exhibition and function venue.

Ironworks, alongside collieries, were key drivers of Britain’s industrial development in the C19. Elsecar Ironworks, which is also designated as a Scheduled Monument, is one of the best surviving C19 ironworks nationally because a number of its buildings were absorbed into the Central Workshops complex and have thus survived. Most C19 ironworks in England have been either completely cleared or redeveloped. Elsecar Central Workshops was an early and pioneering industrial complex, prefiguring similar complexes built as the coal mining and other industries became more highly capitalised towards the end of the C19 and into the C20. Henry Hartop (1785-1865), the ironmaster who was employed by the fifth Earl Fitzwilliam, effectively adapted the concept of the model farm to service the industrial needs of the estate. Successive Earl Fitzwilliams, who were influential members within the first rank of society and the British Establishment, took pride in showing off their industrial concerns to visitors. Elsecar is thus thought to have been nationally, perhaps even internationally, influential.


Former rolling mill building, 1850, extended 1860, built for Dawes’ Elsecar Ironworks. Renovated 1990 as part of Elsecar Heritage Centre to form an exhibition and function venue.

MATERIALS: cast iron framework with coursed sandstone gable ends. Panels infilling the framework to the side walls is mainly in coursed sandstone on the eastern side and brickwork, on the western side. Welsh slate roof.

PLAN: the building is largely an undivided space, the southernmost two bays, the extension added 1860, being separated off by an internal brick wall.

EXTERIOR: the building is a tall single-storey of 12 bays, but with the northern gable being set at an angle so that there is an additional stone-built bay at the northern end on the west side. The building has a degree of architectural embellishment. The iron framework features cast iron round-section columns with simple capitals and bases, many of the bases now buried in the raised external ground surface. The columns, which also function as rainwater downpipes, support cast iron beams that form shallow basket-arches with the spandrels being perforated, the perforations divided by vertical struts. On the western side one column is omitted, the double bay thus formed being spanned by a substantial riveted wrought iron girder.

The stone-built gable ends are substantial. They are quoined and wrap around the corners for stability. They are raised and coped and had tall round arched windows which are now blocked. The northern gable has been at least partially rebuilt, removing external evidence of the former railway siding access, the buttresses flanking this blocked entrance also probably being C20 additions.

The infill panels to the side walls appear to be of different phases and many have later alterations. Windows within the panels are generally iron-framed, divided into small panes. Doors are generally timber-boarded.

The panels on the eastern side are mainly stone-built, some with top portions in brickwork. The southern three panels are blind, the next three each have a pair of large windows with stone lintels, the southern two being enlarged into doors. The next three panels have smaller paired windows with segmental heads formed with two courses of brick headers. The next panel is late C20 with large double doors set in brickwork. The last two panels, similar to those to the centre, are largely obscured by a mid-C20 addition.

The panels on the western side are mainly brick-built. However the additional bay at the northern end (allowing for the skew to the north gable) is stone-built and includes a single, tall, round-arched window. The next six bays are infilled in brickwork of pier-and-panel construction typical of late C19 and early C20 industrial buildings, each being divided into two panels, each panel having a segmentally headed window. Two of these bays have been altered with inserted doorways replacing windows. The remaining bays are of later, plainer brickwork with various openings.

INTERIOR: the original roof structure features 13 Howe trusses formed with timber principal rafters fitted into cast iron sockets at the top of the columns and at the ridge, the remaining elements of the trusses being rolled, wrought iron sections and rods. Most of the iron elements of the trusses are in tension, mostly arranged as paired strips bolted through to clasp the ends of the elements in compression which are T sections. In between the original trusses are more recent Fink trusses, possibly added circa 1990, formed out of lighter-weight sections, probably steel. The interior includes various other additions and structures added as part of the conversion as a function venue around 1990 and subsequently.

SUBSIDIARY ITEMS: set into the ground adjacent to the north gable are two halves of a spoked colliery pit wheel likely to have come from one of Earl Fitzwilliam’s collieries and potentially manufactured at Elsecar Ironworks.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Rimmer, J, Went, D, Jessop, L, The Village of Elsecar, South Yorkshire: Historic Area Assessment. Historic England Research Report 06-2019, (2019)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 30 Jun 2001
Reference: IOE01/05847/05
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr John Kril. Source Historic England Archive
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