Simon Armitage - An Unnatural History

Simon Armitage, England’s Poet Laureate, took up a residency in Barnsley as part of the Eldon Street HSHAZ in his role, Simon created a series of new works inspired by the stories of Eldon Street.

The internationally acclaimed poet spent time in Barnsley Archives, drawing inspiration from some of the many fascinating historic documents relating to Eldon Street. He was particularly interested in the natural history stories connected to Eldon Street, including the work of the Barnsley Naturalists Society, and the animals connected to the many circuses, fairs and markets that have been held in and around Eldon Street over the years.


A stunning  lightwork ‘sunset’ has been created as part of the residency, by local artist Patrick Murphy. The multi-coloured neon piece uses Simon’s words and evokes the history of Eldon Street as a party street, and the much-loved Benj Harral’s ring shop, where generations of Barnsley people bought their engagement and wedding rings. Watch a video on YouTube

Simon's residency culminated in a perforformance by LYR band at The Parkway Cinema on Eldon Street in September 2022

The Ballad of Eldon Street 

The Ballad of Eldon Street - an unnatural history. A new form of radio ballad to mark the centenary of Radio Drama on the BBC. The story of this iconic Barnsley street told by the people who know it best, interwoven with specially composed songs written by LYR - Simon Armitage, Patrick J Pearson and Richard Walters.

with Malcolm Bird, Ann Bunting, Alison Dixon, Wayne Johnson, Tegwen Roberts, Peter Roberts and Steven Skelley.

Music performed by Simon Armitage, Patrick Pearson, Richard Walters, Matt Taylor, Beth Bellis and Mike Monahan.

Produced by Susan Roberts listen here

You can also listen to the Unnatural History album on Bandcamp and Spotify