Brief History of Penistone

The Cloth Hall

Close-up of wood cut late 19th century - not clickable 1974ish Clark's 1999

Clark's centenaryFrom the fifteenth century, many Penistone parish inhabitants made a living from making woollen cloth. The cloth trade expanded rapidly in the West Riding in the eighteenth century. A Cloth Hall was planned by the architect and master mason John Platt in 1763 and cost £800. The Wordsworth name topped the list of subscriptions and it was built in that same year in the market place area by Penistone church. It proved to be a failure with the decline of the woollen industry in the 1860s and the building was turned into shops and the White Bear beerhouse. Only the central part was used as a public shambles and market. The current arched windows might well have been open arches into a central area of the building.

The corner shop shown in the wood carving was a Post Office (excepting 1856-1864) right from the inception of Post Offices until 1895. Up a flight of stone steps, the upper room was used by a Barnsley magistrate on alternate Thursday market days until 1845.

The White Bear was opened in the eastern part of the building by Ben White in 1861. It became the British Legion in 1926, with an entrance on the ginnel side of the building. Some time around the mid 1960s (not sure of date), the British Legion moved to its current location opposite the old the 'lock-up'. The current occupants of the old cloth hall are Clark's chemists, who celebrated their centenary in 1999 with special window displays. One of these displays is shown here. The monochrome picture above was taken by me in the 1970s, probably 1974. It shows a feature that I had forgotten; a door in the central part of the wall which I think was not used at all in recent times.

Historic details and the wood carving illustration on this page came from the 1953 Penistone Almanac. Other details from David Hey's 'A History of Penistone', ISBN 1-903425-21-2.


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