Elsecar Heritage Action Zone
The Elsecar Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) was a highly successful three-year partnership between Historic England and Barnsley Museums.
It ran from 2017-2020 and was one of the first ten Heritage Action Zones in the country.
The aims of the HAZ were to;
- Develop a better understanding of the extent and significance of Elsecar’s heritage – it’s built heritage, planned landscapes, stories and buried archaeology
- Guide how that heritage is managed in the future, for the benefit of the local area
- Encourage and support local people to get involved with heritage-led activities
- Support economic growth in the region
Over the course of the project, in-depth research was carried out by Historic England, supported by Barnsley Museums and Archives staff and local people. This has resulted in a new report about the development of Elsecar, which was built as an early model industrial village by the Earls Fitzwilliam of nearby Wentworth Woodhouse from the late 18th century onwards.
Elsecar and its surrounding landscape is now recognised as being of national importance because of its heritage. The village was built as a showpiece for the Fitzwilliam family, who treated it as a second estate village and invited royals and aristocratic guests to view their vast industrial sites – including collieries, ironworks and workshops, and high-quality housing in Elsecar. Much of this important past still survives today, although some of it has remained buried until recently.
The HAZ carried out research on 15 important archaeological sites in the village, resulting in some important new discoveries. Two major community archaeological digs were carried out in collaboration with the Wentworth and Elsecar Great Place project, at the Milton Ironworks and the Elsecar Newcomen Engine, as well as numerous other community events and activities. Over 2000 local people, and 1000 young people from schools and colleges across Barnsley and Rotherham, got involved, as well as over 200 enthusiastic volunteers who helped with archaeology, litter blitzes, conservation works and more.
The HAZ has also help to create a Local List for Elsecar (the first of its kind in Barnsley) and produced new guidance to help local residents to look after their historic houses
This important work will continue over coming years, with a new Conservation Area Appraisal and other work to help guide sustainable development in the area already underway.