Buildings 4-7, stores at former Elsecar Central Workshops


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:


Range of storage buildings forming one side of Elsecar Central Workshops, the complex built in the 1850s to serve Earl Fitzwilliam’s collieries. In 2020 the range is in multiple retail and small business use.

Reasons for Designation

Former south-west range (stores) at Elsecar Central Workshops, built 1850s, Buildings 4-7 at Elsecar Heritage Centre, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest: * as a functional industrial range of workshop stores, yet demonstrating particular attention to architectural detail such as the well-dressed stonework, the cast iron pillars and use of cross gables; * the way that the range contributes to the overall complex, such as forming a secure boundary along Forge Lane; * the range preserves evidence of its extension in the second half of the C19 and minor alteration by the National Coal Board reflecting the development of the site and changes in use over time, all contributing to its special interest.

Historic interest: * association with Hartop, Nasmyth and the Earls Fitzwilliam. Group value: * as an important part of the complex of buildings which formed Elsecar Central Workshops, an early and influential centralised workshop facility, the complex as a whole being a remarkable survival nationally which is of more than special interest.


The fifth Earl Fitzwilliam (1786-1857) continued the work of his father (1748-1833) in developing and supporting industrial concerns across his Wentworth-Woodhouse estate. In 1849, Henry Hartop (1785-1865), who had managed Elsecar Ironworks for the Earl from 1843 until it was leased to the Dawes brothers in 1849, suggested the establishment of a centralised workshop complex to service the needs of the estate, especially its collieries. Originally known as the New Yard, this complex was built immediately to the north-west of Elsecar Ironworks, close to Elsecar New Colliery. It was sited adjacent to the interchange between the local waggonway network (which served Milton Ironworks and the Tankersley iron ore pits to the west) and the Elsecar branch of the Dearne and Dove Canal and the recently opened branch line to the South Yorkshire Railway. The canal and railway linked the Central Workshops to Hemingfield Colliery to the north east, allowing Hemingfield’s workshops to be converted into workers’ housing. The Central Workshops were regarded as a showcase by the Fitzwilliams where public events and tours were often held, the fitting shop occasionally used for functions. In 1870 the sixth Earl Fitzwilliam (1815-1902) opened a private railway station for his estate as part of the complex and in 1912 the seventh Earl (1872-1943) hosted a visit by King George V and Queen Mary. Nationalisation in 1947 saw the complex taken over by the National Coal Board. It was acquired by Barnsley Council in the late 1980s and was subsequently restored as Elsecar Heritage Centre.

The range along Forge Lane formed the south-western side of the Earl’s New Yard built in the 1850s. It was built in three or more stages, the earliest extending south-eastwards from the corresponding range along Wath Road, which ended with a cross gable facing the yard, with a boundary wall continuing to reach Forge Lane Cottages. This earliest section forms about a third of the final extent of the range. A plan dated 1859 shows that this range had been extended by around three or four bays, although it is difficult to identify this extent with the current building because it was extended further in the same manner to reach its final extent by 1890 when surveyed by the Ordnance Survey. The stonework of the rear wall fronting onto Forge Lane suggests that the boundary wall was heightened twice to form this extension to the range and that there were, at one time, a number of first-floor window openings overlooking the lane. This south-eastern two thirds of the range was originally open-fronted, facing onto the yard, the open fronts formed with iron plates supported on cast iron columns that were probably produced at the adjacent Elsecar Ironworks. These columns match those forming a similar former open front to the ironworks workshop building, Building 19, built in the first half of the C19. The range is thought to have been mainly used as stores. The western end of the range, along with the western end of the Wath Road range, was served by railway sidings by 1890, this area of the complex thus likely to have been used as transfer sheds or warehousing for receiving materials and the dispatch of products. Map evidence suggests that these sidings were removed after 1963, presumably with the closure of the branch line. Alterations by the National Coal Board after 1947 included the insertion or enlargement of a number of first-floor windows, the blocking of the open fronts, and the conversion of part of the western end of the range to form welfare facilities including washrooms. The range was renovated around 1990 for retail and craft workshop use.

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. Hartop employed by the fifth Earl Fitzwilliam, effectively adapted the concept of the model farm to service the industrial needs of the estate. The complex included a Nasmyth steam hammer, invented by Hartop’s son-in-law, the notable Scottish engineer James Nasmyth (1808-1890) who invented and developed a number of workshop machine tools in the mid-C19. 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.


Workshop stores, 1850s for Earl Fitzwilliam, extended by 1890. Renovated 1990 as part of Elsecar Heritage Centre.

MATERIALS: well-dressed, coursed sandstone generally with deep horizontal tooling. Welsh slate roofs. Later alterations in brick and breeze-block, with some alterations and repairs in the stonework.

PLAN: linear range opening onto the yard to the north-east, following the gentle curve of Forge Lane. The access through the north end of the range onto Forge Lane is a C20 alteration.

EXTERIOR: the north-western third of the range is of about seven bays, the north-western half being single-storey because of the rising ground surface, this having a series of altered entrances, one passing through the range to Forge Lane, this having an iron plate lintel. The south-western four bays have blind ground floors and National Coal Board picture windows to the first-floor, these with concrete sills and lintels. The end bay is a coped gable. There are two raised, gabled ventilators to the ridge, at either end of this section.

The south-eastern two thirds of the range continues the same roof-lines and is of two storeys. The western portion has a further regular run of nine inserted picture windows at first-floor, the last but one being in a cross gable. The ground floor below was originally open-fronted with twelve formerly open bays below with cast iron columns with simple bases and capitals, supporting iron plates forming the lintels, some of the columns replaced or supplemented with brickwork pillars. The range continues with a further five formerly open bays but without the inserted windows above, instead there being two two-light mullioned windows and a taking-in door. The infilling to the ground floor openings is generally in brick, but incorporates various doorways and windows. The southern gable end has a small round window set high in the gable retaining its cast iron frame. The patched stonework overlooking Forge Lane suggests that this elevation probably had a run of around five small windows to the centre of the range, with a run of four picture-format windows to the south.

INTERIOR: the passageway through the northern end of the range has a broad, multi-paned window facing onto it from the bay to the north. The southern part of the range has exposed queen post roof trusses. Internally from the taking-in door there is a girder mounted winch.




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

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