The Local Population

Penistone's Ethnic mix
Ethnos (Greek) means nation or country (not directly race or skin colour).

The largest non-English ethnic group in the UK is the Irish, who migrated to this country in large numbers in the nineteenth century. Many were involved in the construction of canals (navvies), railway and industry during the industrial revolution. They were often discriminated against in the UK (and USA) but have since integrated into the populace and inter-married with the idigenous population. Many Irish names can be found in the Penistone area.

With the Second World War, East European refugees came to this area. There was a refugee camp near Tenter Hill and a good number of Polish people have integrated with the population very well. The nearby village of Thurgoland is sometimes called 'Little Poland' or 'Pogoland'. A few Greek Cypriots and Germans have also come to live in Penistone. The very few Chinese or Asian people in this area are generally connected with local food businesses but are not well integrated and do not socialise. Other ethnic groups have very little representation in the area.

Troubles in Bosnia led to Penistone adopting a large group of refugees for several months at Scout Dike outdoor pursuits school. They have all gone home now but local people took pity on their plight and generously collected food and household goods for them during their stay, even if they were seldom seen. The Co-op store had a trolley for donated goods from local people. In fact, Penistone people were also very generous after the tsunami of Boxing Day 2005, without regard for the religion or the skin colour of the victims - a typically enlightened British trait.

With the recent expansion of the EU, a few Polish people have been in the area but do not appear to have stayed long.

Crowd(not clickable) Local People Crowd

English Comers-in
With the continuing explosion of house-building (27% increase between 1975 and 1997 and still going - see below), there are plenty of strange English accents around now. The easy motorway access and comparatively cheap housing has encouraged many 'comers-in' to settle here, especially from the South. I would not call Penistone 'gentrified', as we are more of a 'dormitory' town for Leeds, Huddersfield, Barnsley and Sheffield. There is very little local employment and house prices have pushed many local people out of the housing market. Some of the 'comers-in' have joined local clubs, such as the PFR.

Local people are generally open and friendly but will be reserved with strangers at first. Newcomers are quickly accepted if they adopt the open attitude that abounds here - which might involve declaring their life history. Ex-townies should make the effort to reciprocate greetings like 'good morning', etc. which might not come naturally and can be assured that we will not use it to harrass them or sell them something.

Penistone people tend to watch out for the well-being of neighbours (whom we will often know personally). We don't need neighbourhood watch signs as the curtains will twitch when some suspicious stranger or vehicle comes down the side streets. It works!

Population Growth
The introduction of my 'Brief History' section refers to the 1672 Hearth Tax returns, listing only 28 householders for Penistone, compared to 65 for Thurlstone and 23 for Oxspring. It was an unpopular tax which was widely avoided. A window tax followed on and resulted in many old windows being walled up. Some are still like that throughout the UK at the present day. All things being equal, the population of Thurlstone was generally recorded as more than twice that of Penistone.

An 1842 book on the diocese claims a population for the Penistone area as 5201, which it breaks down as below. This totals 5,111 and does not explain the missing 90. From the same source, the population for 1834 was 5,204. The Thurlstone/Penistone ratio was still greater than 2:1 at the time.

Thurlstone 1509   Ingbirchworth 371
Denby 1295   Langsett 320
Penistone 703   Oxspring 283
Hunshelf 531   Gunthwaite 99

The 1837 West Riding Directory says only 703, which tallies with the above. The 1919 Penistone Almanac lists the following figures, for the rural and urban district council areas: I think that the figures were separate, UDC not being a subset of RDC but referring to the outlying areas.

Year Rural D. Urban D.
1891 5,977 not listed
1901 6,475 3,073
1911 5,541 3,408

Population for the Penistone West area
The 'Local Area Community Plan 2000-2001', includes the 1997 'Housing Needs Survey'.(Penistone Library)

7,000 - Penistone town
3,350 - Hoylandswaine, Thurlstone and Millhouse Green
- with the 'remaining 11% scattered over a wide area'
Calculates to about 11,630 - but 11,550 is also quoted in the same document.

Below 5 years old
Above 60 years old
Growth per year
Mortality per million


Housing development in Penistone continues at an accelerating pace but there is a national trend for more single-person households.

Many names in old records are still current in the area - such as Dransfield, Wordsworth, Fieldsend, Armitage, Hinchliff, Kenworthy, etc. People did not stray far from their roots in the old days. Men were men and sheep were worried.

The dialect of Penistone locals has a definite South Yorkshire sound, much like in Barnsley. Nothing like Huddersfield or Sheffield.

Major local employers, present and past:
Hoyland Fox, Cooks Hitec, Durrans, Hepworth Building Products (used to be 'Hepworth Iron Company' now taken over by a German company), David Browns, Corus (Dutch steel company), Naylor Claywares. Some of these have either cut back on work or closed down altogether. After these employers, most Penistone people work in Barnsley, Huddersfield, Sheffield or Leeds. There is not much work to be found in the area these days. Any references by locals to "t' company" will mean Hepworth's. There was an old saying that they "Make pipes and old men".
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