Value for Money
RNLI Henry Blogg Museum
Experience Barnsley Museum and Discovery Centre, Town Hall, Barnsley, S70 2TA
Tel 01226 772500
Entry Price Free??
Opening Hours Mon-Fri, 9-4; Sat, 10-4; Sun 11-4
Trip Advisor Rating 4.5/5
Today I visited the new free museum in the Town Hall at Barnsley. The museum has brought together Barnsley’s local history by displaying a lot of artefacts that have been donated by the local people, as well as containing a lot of old video footage and recordings of people telling their stories, making the history seem a lot more real. It contains EVERYTHING, from Stone Age tools that were discovered in coal mines, to typewriters used in Barnsley Market. They also have an archive centre open to anyone who wants to find out more.
The main thing I liked about the museum were the opportunities to immerse yourself in the history of the place. It was filled with interactive displays, touch screen boards and buttons to press making it suitable for all ages. They even had a ‘Making History’ room for children to dress up or make drawings.
But down to the history of it. There were a few things I found really fascinating, although they aren’t
related to the stereotypical history of Barnsley i.e. the coal industry. The first thing that jumped out at me was a book dating from around 1913, containing the minutes from the suffragette meetings in the town written by the secretary, Celia Wray, who was also a leading architect.
Having studied the Suffragettes this year at school it caught my eye immediately, if only so I could tell my teacher I’d seen it. I decided to google Celia when I got home and found some interesting things. The Suffrage movement in the area was set up in 1896 as a sub-committee of the Manchester National Society, and Celia was the leading local activist as well as the secretary. It turns out her father was the Mayor of Barnsley in 1904, and I should think that probably caused some controversy when his daughter became a leading Suffragette. I also found out that she later helped soldiers in WW1, nursing on the Serbian front line. She resigned as secretary in October 1920, when she left the town and the same year the movement changed it’s name to the Barnsley Society for Equal Citizenship.
Another thing that caught my eye, although not necessarily related to Barnsley, was a dress worn by Kataryna Cieslik as she travelled through Ukranian Labour camps during the second world war. It was donated by her daughter Lydia along with a wooden cot which had been given to Kataryna for Lydia while they were in a German Displaced Persons Camp. The dress was in pristine condition, and looked nearly new which says a lot about whoever washed it!
Finally, I found a timeline which dated Penistone Grammar School as opening in 1397 during the reign of Richard II, making it one of the oldest schools in the world. Although several websites say the school opened in 1392, and so I have contacted the Museum’s creator for clarification. The school was built after the gift of land was given by Thomas Clarel, the Lord of the Manor, for the purpose of a school. Clarel later drowned in the River Don, in 1442. Originally it was a school for boys held in the church, and was the first of it’s kind in the area. John Ness Dransfield refers to it as, “a great seat of learning” in his book ‘A History of Penistone’. The official archive website of the school provides a virtual tour of the school as it was before renovations in 2009 along with information on the specific buildings.
The museum was an amazing experience, although I could have done with longer to explore it, in which case this would probably have been a lot longer.