Historic Pastimes

This page looks at some of the oldest pursuits in the area. Of course, football and cricket have always been strong in our area and are still very popular, with Penistone Cricket Club in Spring Vale and Penistone Church Football Club on Church View Road, founded in 1906. David Brown also had a strong football team playing on a company-owned field in Eddyfield, Oxspring. Unfortunately, that land was sold on for housing and no longer exists as a football field. Let's take a look at some of the older sports in our area. There is also mention in a 1950s almanac of Penistone Chess Club.

Penistone Hunt
From 'Hounds in the Old Days' (Archive.org) 'The Penistone Hunt traces its origin back as far as 1260, when Elias de Midhope was Master. The date indicates that a royal charter must have been granted for hunting'. In John N Dransfield's 'A History of the Parish of Penistone', the Penistone Harriers pack was of 'northern hounds', of the 'Olde Englyshe' type. It carried on well into the 20th century. For example, the Hunt's annual dinner of 1906 was held in the Spread Eagle Hotel and noted in Penistone Almanac. In the old days, hunts were very important to help eradicate wolves and other problematic wildlife. Less so in modern times. The Rockwood Harriers of Denby was founded much later, in 1868, but continues to this day. It most notably meets on Boxing Day outside The George, Denby.

Cock Fighting
Cock Fighting was a Penistone recreation in Cockpit Lane before the twentieth century, close to the church. The position of the pit was marked (dotted lines) on the plan used for the sale of land on Kirk Flatts in December 1903, by auction. Click on the small plan below to see the full version. The cock-pit was within lot 5, where it says "Right of Way - 18 feet wide" on the full picture. There is nothing left to show for it now, of course, excepting the name. Cockpit Lane is also visible on the old aerial view, on the left of the picture, and is the continuing access to the rear of James Henry Wood's 'Don Press' printing works (lot 8) and other properties for more than a century. The Don Press is still in business in the 21st century but concentrates on products for agricultural shows, rather than printed papers.

Part of plan of Cockpit LaneCockpit Lane

Buildings Nearby
Auction 1903 - not clickablePrior to the purchase of the land, Woods printers was entirely housed in a small building with a large door on to Church Street, directly next door to the current 'Busy Bees' nursery. Before that, Woods resided on a corner of the old cloth hall, now Clark's Chemists. JH Wood printed the various Penistone Almanacs.

The block marked as 'London City and Midland Banking Co.' is where Dransfields solicitors office continued to operate right up until 2011, when it moved to the Rose and Crown building on the corner of High Street and Shrewsbury Road. These were the same solicitors referred to in the 'Particulars and Plan' of the auction, right.

Also in this area was the original location of the old schoolhouse before Penistone Grammar School moved to its Weirfield site in 1892, the 500th year of the school's history. This explains why the row of houses was property of the 'Trustees of the Penistone Grammar School'. One house in the row was used for many years as the telephone exchange, before it moved to Talbot Road around 1954. The building marked as 'The Misses Crossley' is where the HSBC bank is now, formerly the Midland Bank.

Horse Racing in Penistone
How many local people know that Penistone had its own horse races? These were very popular on the 'Race Common' in Cubley and people would travel long distances to be there. The Race Common might have been an area near the recreation ground of Lyttleton Crescent and some fields around.

Races were held in September in the years from 1726 to 1730 on the 'Race Common', the top part of Cubley. In 1728, a Mr Garforth, minister of Midhope Chapel, 'won the plate' (an amount of takings) of £3 by betting on a horse from Lancashire.

An avenue in Cubley remembers the event by its name of 'Racecommon Avenue', although in those days it was all open fields. The houses arrived in 1921-1922 as part of a proposed 'model village' which never came to fruition.

Penistone Moorland Motor Club
Information is sparse about this club, which must have been formed when motor cars were something of a novelty or, perhaps, only for doctors and wealthy people. As such, it attracted several leading lights in the area such as the councillors of the day, who also tended to be members of another gentleman's club. It continued until around 1985. Some more details are likely to appear soon.

Pigeons
There has been pigeon racing going on in Penistone since Methuselah was a lad and the first picture below is of Penistone Pigeon Fanciers Club, which also appears on the page showing old photos of people. Following new information from Mr David Wilkinson (whom I thank), here are some names in the picture. Left to right: Tom Ollerenshaw, (Unknown lady), Club Secretary - Gilbert Goddard, Frank Ashton and Fred Crossland. David does not think it was in the Bridge Inn as was previously surmised. There are still pigeon lofts in the area and the pigeons are quite a sight when they circle around.

Pigeon Club Bowling Club members

Bowling Club
The second picture above is of bowling club members. An old Bowling Club sponsored by David Brown's steelworks was sited behind the Wentworth Arms on Sheffield Road and the picture was taken from there. This plot is now misnamed 'Wentworth Mews', where houses were built in the 1990s. A 'Mews' house is supposed to be converted stables.

The current Penistone Bowling Club has a green and clubhouse on Back Lane near to the Tesco car park. It has a photograph showing the opening of the club in 1909 by Mr JB Durrans, of the Thurlstone blacking works. The club is still well supported and its grounds were extended as part of the Tesco development on the edge of the recreation field, known as the Showground.


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