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Tourist Guide to Barnsley, Yorkshire

Barnsley is South Yorkshire town with a population of just over 70,000 people. Despite a reputation as a run-down area, Barnsley’s town centre is home to an impressive array of boutiques and quality restaurants. The shopping facilities are unusually good for a town of this size, and the large town centre market is busy and popular and has been standing since the thirteenth-century. The town centre is said to have more bars and pubs per square mile than almost any other region in the UK, so it goes without saying that Barnsley has plenty to offer in terms of nightlife!

Barnsley might not be first choice for a relaxing break in the countryside, but historical parkland and ancient villages surround the town, and there is a wealth of historical monuments and buildings, some dating back to the twelfth-century.

The town interchange is relatively small, but Barnsley is well connected by transport links and there are major redevelopments planned for the interchange later this year.


Barnsley’s history is documented back to 1249, when a Royal Charter was granted to allow a weekly market to be held in the area. Over the next five hundred years, Barnsley developed into a manufacturing centre, producing vast quantities of linen and glass, and attracting thousands of visitors. The area’s economic importance declined with the collapse of the mining industry – an important employer in the area – in the mid 80s. Since then, Barnsley has begun rebranding itself as a sporting and leisure town, and funding has flooded in to aid this development.

Important and exciting historical monuments and buildings are plentiful in Barnsley; and these include the pinnacle tower of St Mary’s church and the Monk Bretton Priory, both built in the twelfth-century and free to visit. Cannon Hall was once an eighteenth-century family home but has now been converted into a museum and gallery, exploring local history up to the Victorian period. The Elsecar Heritage Centre is housed within a former ironworks and colliery workshop, and comprises exhibitions of historical artefacts and craft works.

Art Galleries

There is only one permanent art gallery in Barnsley, and that is The Cooper Gallery on Church Street, opposite the town hall. The gallery features exhibitions of paintings, drawings and watercolours dating from the seventeenth- to the twentieth-century. The gallery is frequently home to temporary exhibitions of art and craft works by local and national artists. Admission to the gallery is free.

The Cannon Hall Museum has a small, permanent display of historical art works, including paintings and crafts.

For other temporary exhibitions around Barnsley, J+K Wood is a framing shop with a small space dedicated to exhibiting works of art, and the Barnsley College of Creative Arts host an annual Celebration of Excellence, showcasing the work of its students.


The Barnsley Lamproom Theatre complex is located in an old Methodist Chapel on Westgate, and comprises three theatre groups: the Lamproom Theatre Company, the Lamproom Musical Theatre Company, and the youth theatre. The Lamproom showcases a range of large-scale productions, including amateur performances, musical theatre, one-man shows and the ever-popular Christmas pantomime.

Barnsley is also home to a number of independent theatre companies, specialising in non-mainstream drama and performance. These include Mark Mark Productions, with slapstick comedies and magic tricks, The Faceless Co and The Theatre.


Barnsley town centre has much to offer for eating-out. Alongside a large selection of takeaways and fast food restaurants, Barnsley boasts a number of the contemporary restaurants and live music venues that are springing up around the country and combining the dining experience with a more lively night out.

The Citrus Rooms is one example. This complex comprises a bar, cafe and music venue, with an extensive menu and in-house chef. The Lucorum is another popular choice, comprising a caf?bar, Mediterranean restaurant, beauty salon and hairdressers.

Barnsley is an idea destination for fans of Chinese cuisine. China Moon and New Jade Palace are popular Chinese restaurants and takeaways, and the China Court Restaurant serves high quality Chinese food, with warm service and a stylish ambience.


Local legend has it that Barnsley is home to more pubs per square mile than almost any other region in the UK. Whether this is literally the case or not, there are certainly more than 120 bars in the town centre, catering to a wide range of tastes and wallets.

There are stylish and up-market venues, such as The Citrus Rooms complex comprising a bar, cafe and live music venue, as well as popular workingmen’s clubs, such as The Farm Road Social Club, that are building new followings amongst a younger generation raised on bar franchises and chain pubs. Tempo is a pre-club bar, open until 4am on Saturdays and presenting house music DJs, and the Arches is rock pub. There are a dozen real ale pubs in the town recommended by the local branch of CAMRA.


Barnsley’s vast selection of pubs and bars generate a vibrant nightlife in the town, but there are only three dedicated nightclubs in Barnsley.

Club Hedonism has a large, out-of-town following and presents R'n'b, chart, club classics and rock music four nights a week. Drinks are cheap and the club is located above the Chicago Rock Caf?br />

Heaven and Hell has branches in other towns and cities around the UK, and presents a variety of electro house, hardstyle, hard trance, funky and electro techno in its large, town centre venue.

Livingstones Club opens three nights each week and presents party anthems, hip-hop and r'n'b in its two rooms.

Other venues playing host to club nights include The Citrus Rooms, with alternative, indie and rock, and The Lucorum, recently voted Best Club Night in the North by Galaxy 105.


Barnsley town centre market is ideal for bargain-hunters. The Market Hall comprises more than three hundred stalls and opens five days a week. There are also Meat and Fish Markets, Antiques and Collectors Markets and a car boot sale.

Major redevelopments of the shopping facilities are planned, but currently, the main shopping streets in Barnsley town centre are Queen Street, Cheapside, May Day Green and the Arcade. The Arcade is the place to find designer boutiques and independent retailers.

The Alhambra shopping centre is based a short drive from the town centre and houses around thirty stores, including most of the major retailers. The Alhambra is open seven days a week.


As a result of a governmental objective to encourage sports and athletics, Barnsley (and many other regions) are now home to a wealth of sporting facilities.

There are numerous leisure centres in Barnsley. The Barnsley Metrodome is a huge leisure complex, comprising four swimming pools, squash courts, bowls facilities, a gym, dance studio and health suite. Athersley Leisure Centre offers gymnastics and athletics facilities, as well as football coaching on astro-turf pitches. The Dorothy Hyman Stadium boasts state of the art athletics facilities and coaching. Other leisure centres include Hoyland Leisure Centre, Royston Leisure Centre and Penistone Leisure Centre.

There are a number of golf courses to be found in the rolling countryside that surrounds Barnsley. Wombwell Hillies is one example of a nine-hole course, open to the public.
About the Author

Author: Leisha Greenfield

Leisha Greenfield has been a tourist guide for over 10 years. She has vast knowledge of UK tourism, with a speciality in Barnsley tourist information and the history of Barnsley.

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