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“Berneslai” is mentioned in the 1086 ‘audit’ The Domesday Book, covering every town and city in Britain which was collated following the Norman invasion twenty years earlier. The town was given to Norman Ilbert de Lace, whose son Robert, founded the priory of St. John the Evangelist in Pontefract and then in 1090, Henry the son of Robert, gave Barnsley to the priory as part of his endowments.
Another local landowner, Adam Fitz Swain founded the priory of St. Mary Magdalene at Lund or Bretton, afterwards known as Monk Bretton.
In 1249, Barnsley was granted a Charter to hold an annual fair and weekly market.
Very early in its history, coal mining began in the area, being supplemented by another important industry, glass blowing, early in the 17th. century.
In 1744, William Wilson introduced linen weaving, which became so popular that by 1794, there were no fewer than 500 looms in the town.
An Act of Parliament of 1777 allowing several commons, moors and waste ground to be enclosed and built upon, could be said to be the start of the industrialisation of the area.
Between 1800, as an important place, with a population around 3,600, and 1861, Barnsley had become a town in its own right.
It now had its own water supplies, lighting, paving and cleansing department, as well as street name-plates and house numbers.
In 1850, the first railway station was opened in Barnsley-- the collaborators were George and Robert Stevenson and Joseph Locke -- a Barnsley man.
A year later, Monk Bretton was acquired by Barnsley, the sale including Fairfeld and May Day Green with all their rights, privileges, tolls and market revenues.
The town's oldest link with the past is the square, embattled with pinnacled tower of St. Mary, dating back to the 12th. century. However, many fittings and relics are still well preserved in the present church.
The town was granted an Armorial Bearing in 1869 and its supporters in 1913.
In the same year, Barnsley was created a County Borough.
In the 1970s, a further restructuring led to the creation of Barnsley as a Metropolitan Borough.
In 1984, the national Coal Strike marked the beginning of the end of Barnsley’s coal mining heritage.
The bitter show-down between Arthur Scargill and Margaret Thatcher divided communities, neighbourhoods, even families.
Today there are no coal mines left in Barnsley at all.
The town has begun an ambitious programme of redevelopment under the banner ‘Re-making Barnsley’, which over the coming decades will see the town centre transformed into a thriving metropolis once again. Largely a dormitory town, attracting commuters who work in Leeds and Sheffield, Barnsley is over 70% rural, despite its industrial heritage, and as such has become a much sought after place to set up home.
The town centre has been compared to a Tuscan hill village set proudly overlooking the Dearne Valley.
It has an unrivalled reputation for night life, with people travelling from far afield to sample the Barnsley hospitality. With over 600 shops and businesses, the town also boasts internationally renowned design shops, such as Pollyanna. With a couple of excellent restaurants, a good selection of live music venues, theatre, art gallery and one of only three Design Centres in the country, Barnsley has something for everyone.
Barnsley is located at the heart of England with excellent motorway links from the M1, M62 and A1.
Barnsley Town Centre and it's surrounding areas have much to offer for both business and recreational needs.