We are very pleased to share for the first time a new vision for the historic Elsecar Ironworks site, including the re-establishment of a heritage railway and much more.
Our thanks to everyone who has shared ideas and thoughts already about this very special historic site with a proud history, which is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument, thanks to our Heritage Action Zone Partnership with Historic England.
We look forward to inviting everyone, starting with local residents, to special events, activities and tours in the New Year to discuss how this vision could be taken forward.
It will take time to make the new development a reality and to secure funding to make it happen, but we are confident of being able to do so, and all the positive benefits it will mean for our region.
The proposed development is in addition to works due to start in Spring 2024 to The New Yard and The Ironworks events building, for which funding has already been secured from the Cultural Development Fund.
To find out more about the future vision for Elsecar and to receive regular updates, including about the consultation events and special behind-the-scenes tours in the New Year, please sign up for our newsletter here: https://surveys.barnsley.gov.uk/s/ForgingAhead/
An exciting new vision for the former site of the Elsecar Ironworks has been announced today, including a new heritage railway, new rail college, outdoor events area and more.
The vision for the historic site, now a scheduled ancient monument, has been carefully developed over the last two years, based on extensive public consultation and working closely with Historic England, as a legacy project of our Heritage Action Zone partnership.
The future vision for the former ironworks includes:
- New heritage railway destination, including a reconstructed 1849 Fitzwilliam locomotive, powered by sustainable fuels
- New rail college and rail technology test track, training more than 400 students each year
- Advanced engineering workshops showcasing the region’s innovation
- New ‘Cultural Canteen’ and outdoor events and performance area, against the spectacular backdrop of the ironworks furnaces and restored blast wall
- Active Travel Hub and Cycle Hire, to enable families and visitors to travel to Elsecar, and explore the Elsecar Valley, on foot and by bike
The site sits on the east side of the successful Elsecar Heritage Centre and its major indoor events space, which is being refurbished over the next year thanks to funding already secured from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, through the Cultural Development Fund administered by Arts Council England.
Designs for new buildings for the ironworks site have been closely inspired by the Victorian furnace sheds which originally stood there. They will replace a replica station newly built in the 1990s, when the importance of the ironworks was not understood and the condition of which is deteriorating.
A series of consultation events, activities and special tours are planned for the New Year when the public, beginning with local residents, can share their thoughts about the new vision and how it should be taken forward.
The new development would transform the impact Elsecar can have for Barnsley and South Yorkshire communities and mean the village further becoming a national visitor destination.
It focuses on creating jobs, skills and quality life-changing experiences for South Yorkshire communities. It is closely aligned to Barnsley’s 2030 vision as ‘a place of possibilities’.
Elsecar has a long history as an international centre of coal mining and ironworking, with many achievements to its name. The new development will share that history and celebrate the wider innovation heritage of South Yorkshire.
Funding options are being explored for the new development, which has been costed at around £25m to be delivered in full. It may be progressed in stages as funding becomes available.
Cllr Sir Stephen Houghton CBE Leader, Barnsley Council said, “We’re determined to transform this remarkable historic site, previously the home of Elsecar Heritage Railway, into something which is unique, sustainable, and will thrive long into the future.
This will include a new heritage railway destination, a rail college, advanced engineering workshops, outdoor performance and events area, public spaces, a café-restaurant and more.
The redevelopment of the Ironworks site and heritage railway will not happen straight away. We need to secure funding and it will take time to deliver, but this vision is the starting point for something very special for Elsecar.”
When will this be done?
We have advanced designs for these proposals and carried out extensive investigations and discussions on the historic site, including with Historic England.
We understand the immense positive impact these developments will have and we look forward to special events to discuss them, including with local residents, in the New Year.
We are hopeful we can then go onto secure funding to make this project a reality over coming years. It may be progressed in stages as funding becomes available.
How much will it cost?
The total cost for the whole scheme is around £25 million, which we may be able to secure to deliver all the elements at the same time, or it may be necessary to deliver the project in stages over a longer period.
It will have major economic, social and cultural impact for Barnsley and for the whole of South Yorkshire and we are therefore confident about securing the required funding going forward.
Why can’t the station be kept as it is?
The replica station was newly built in the 1990s, on the site of the historic ironworks. There was no station there before. It is now recognised to have been an inappropriate addition to what is an extremely important site.
The replica station is in a deteriorating condition as are its outbuildings.
By creating a new heritage railway station, new volunteer facilities and more, in buildings inspired by what was there originally, the proposal is considered acceptable by Historic England for the Scheduled Ancient Monument.
The only historic parts of the station are the bridge and parts of the ironwork, brought here from elsewhere in Barnsley. We will look to re-use and install these here at Elsecar and at other locations.
What happened to the railway trust and its railway engines and rolling stock?
The heritage railway trust faced difficulties towards the start of the COVID pandemic, which led to them transferring the lease to the land back to Barnsley Council.
The rolling stock and engines were not part of that lease and did not belong to the Council. At no time have they been transferred to the Council.
Does the new development affect the existing heritage centre and the existing event space?
The proposed development does not affect the heritage centre core (traditionally known as The New Yard) or the existing event space in the rolling mill of the former ironworks (known as The Ironworks).
Major investment has already been secured from the Cultural Development Fund for parts of the heritage centre and its historic buildings, to support local businesses, create more jobs, and create special experiences for local communities.
Those works will be completed in 2024-5.
If this will mean more visitors, what will it mean for the quality of life of local residents who live in the village?
We are committed to making sure that the success of Elsecar as a visitor destination, and a place that means so much for South Yorkshire communities, will not detract from what it means to live in such a special place.
Active steps are being taken to develop car parking in such a way to reduce the impact of visitor cars on the centre of the village. We are also committed to working with transport providers to increase the number of people using public transport to come here and to provide new facilities for those who choose to walk and ride.
We are aware that particularly popular days can create issues in the village, so we are committed to ensuring visitors to the village are more evenly spread, to reduce that impact.
A new Community Stakeholder Group is being established and we look forward to inviting all residents to special events and behind-the-scenes tours in the New Year to talk about these proposals.