Buildings 8-12, former workshops, offices and warehousing at the 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 forming one side of Elsecar Central Workshops, the complex built in the 1850s to serve Earl Fitzwilliam’s collieries. In 2020 this is in multiple retail, small business and office use, including a heritage visitor centre.

Reasons for Designation

Former north-west range (workshops, offices and warehousing) at Elsecar Central Workshops, mainly 1850s with later additions, Buildings 8-12 at Elsecar Heritage Centre, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest: * for an industrial range, the well-dressed stonework and other detailing combined with its careful massing illustrates particular care in its architectural design; * the way that the range relates to the overall complex, such as the two storey central section (the original office) has a good view to the main entrance and across the yard to the stores; * the two C20 additions to the range provide an insight into the historical development of the site, their construction was clearly modified from typical designs of their date to better fit in with the older buildings.

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 Wath Road formed the north-western side of the Earl’s New Yard built in the 1850s. The cross wing towards the centre of the range was probably originally designed to be used for the works manager and his office staff, perhaps including a drawing office. This was clearly extended southwards soon after construction, its extended footprint being mapped in 1859. At some later date, perhaps with the offices being moved to the railway station in the late C19, at least part of the building appears to have been given over to warehousing with the insertion of first-floor taking-in doors, the southern one (enlarged from a window) directly overlooking the railway siding depicted by the Ordnance Survey in 1890 and on subsequent maps until the 1960s.

The south-western end of the range was entered by two railway sidings and was probably, along with the north-western end of the Forge Lane range, mainly used as transfer sheds and for warehousing for incoming material and outward dispatch. Sometime between 1859 and 1890, a short, stone-built range was added parallel to the main range, extending for two bays from the central cross wing. This was extended to its current seven bays in the mid-C20, possibly before Nationalisation in 1947.

The north-east part of the range formed an extensive blacksmiths’ workshop which appears to have included at least six hearths. It is also known to have included a Nasmyth steam hammer which still survives but is now sited outside Nasmyth Business Park, Patricroft, Salford. These steam-powered hammers allowed the forging of larger sections of iron and steel than had been possible with traditional tilt-hammers. Nasmyth (1807-1890), the notable Scottish engineer who invented and developed a range of machine tools in the mid-C19, had a strong connection to Elsecar, being married to Hartop’s daughter. The wing at the north-east end of the range, which extends to the main entrance of the workshop complex, was open-fronted and also well-provided with windows in its outer wall. This wing was probably a further set of workshops for activity requiring good light and ventilation. The mainly brick-built workshop range abutting and parallel to the blacksmiths’ workshop was added by the National Coal Board before 1957.

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. 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.


Workshops, office and warehousing, 1850s for Earl Fitzwilliam, extended mid-C20. Renovated 1990 as part of Elsecar Heritage Centre.

MATERIALS: well-dressed, coursed sandstone generally with deep horizontal tooling. Welsh slate roofs. Original windows are cast iron, but most are multi-paned timber windows installed since 1989. The eastern of the two mid-C20 ranges is mainly built in brick with sheet metal roofing, the other is stone built to match the Victorian ranges.

PLAN: a two-storey office (later warehousing) forms a cross wing to the centre; former rail-served warehousing extends as a range to the south-west; a former blacksmiths’ extends as a range to the north-east with a short wing of former open-fronted workshops at the north-east end. Later, mid-C20 parallel workshop ranges are attached along the southern side. The internal plan forms are largely altered by post-1990 subdivisions.

EXTERIOR: Wath Road (north-west elevation): this is blind except for the near-central cross wing which breaks slightly forward as a coped gable. This wing is of two storeys and is symmetrical with two multi-paned windows to both ground and first-floors, all with stone lintels and projecting sills, the upper windows being shorter, set beneath an eaves string course. This string course is cut by a central, inserted taking-in door. Above is a circular window retaining its cast iron frame. The range extending south-west of the cross wing has three ventilators to the ridge. The range extending north-east of the cross wing has a further six ridge ventilators that are generally more evenly distributed, but different to those shown in a 1912 photograph. Along the foot of the wall there are six ventilation gills set beneath stone lintels, these thought to mark the positions of the former blacksmiths’ hearths internally; the associated chimneys no longer survive.

North-east elevation (including the north-east wing): this is of five bays extending to the main entrance to the complex, and has five large, regularly spaced, small-paned windows with stone lintels and projecting sills. The roof, which is hipped, has a single brick ridge-stack.

North-east wing: the end facing the entrance to the complex has a single, central window. The south-west elevation is altered but retains an iron lintel showing it as being formally open-fronted. The ridge stack is near central to this elevation.

Blacksmith’s south-west elevation: largely covered by the mid-C20 workshop range, the two exposed sections both appear to be altered, but sympathetically detailed.

Eastern mid-C20 workshop range: this is of 12 bays, with blind gable ends, the north-eastern gable (facing the main entrance to the complex), is stone built, the rest is brick. The doorways are large and have overlights bringing their lintels to the same height as the large windows. Lintels and sills are thin concrete slabs that project. Joinery is timber and mid-C20 industrial in style. Windows and overlights are multi-paned.

Two storey office cross wing: this retains original openings complete with cast iron lattice windows to the first-floor, four windows to the north-east side, one opposite and two in the gable end flanking the central round-arched opening enlarged into a taking-in door. Ground floor openings appear altered. Iron plate lintels suggest that the ground floor was formerly open-fronted on the sides.

Western workshop range extended in the mid-C20: this is stone-built of seven bays with large picture windows with concrete sills and lintels and two large entries to the side wall, the easternmost two bays being late C19. The south-west gable end also has a large doorway, this being flanked by narrow windows. Joinery is mid-C20 industrial in style.

Rail served warehousing: only the western third is exposed to the south-east. This has a large, wide opening now infilled with a shop front that formerly received a railway siding. To its left is a small window retaining an iron lattice frame. The bay to the west has been altered but retains an iron lintel and evidence of a cast iron column indicating it was formerly open-fronted.

INTERIOR: the first-floor of the central cross wing is divided by a former external wall demonstrating that the building was extended before it was mapped in 1859. This wall retains two rectangular and one small round window all complete with original cast iron frames. The door way through this wall also retains a mid-C19 six-panelled door. The roof trusses are queen post attic trusses, the collars supporting king posts. Other ranges also retain timber queen-post roof trusses which are exposed in various locations. The mid-C20 extended workshop range has a steel roof structure of light-weight Fink trusses. Interiors are generally the result of the 1990 restoration and conversion.




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