Why?

Penistone Pictorial banner

Why a website for Penistone?
When the internet first arrived we all had Geocities pages. Most people had an interest or a hobby that they wanted to share with the world and assumed that the world also wanted to share. Some had pictures of their cat, others their taste in music or favourite actor/actress, etc. I did one about me, including my interest in CB radio and TV test cards. It had a bit about Penistone with a picture of the church. Yes it was as bad as that. Nobody really was interested in cats or people like me. And as regards testcards, well, I still like them. Then I had a think.

In 2000, I signed up to an ISP with 50MB of web space and wanted to use it for something. Penistone was being 'marketed' as a tourist attraction by well-intentioned but dotty comers-in. They didn't really have any right to do this, in my mind. The claim that Penistone was the 'Gateway to the Pennines' finally did it. As an Irishman once said; "If I was going there, I wouldn't start here". Who in their right mind would choose Penistone as a starting point. On top of that, Barnsley started calling Penistone, 'Pennine Barnsley'. Completely bonkers. Hence my earlier banner called Penistone the 'Gateway to Barnsley'. But another thought was forming in the back of my mind.

I was born in Penistone (and still live here) and wanted to give the world a taste of our small Yorkshire town, with some nostalgia for ex-Penistonians abroad. I wanted the internet to be like this for me, so that I could visit anywhere in the world and see how other people live. Promotional websites never show things as they really are, 'warts an' all'. So I wanted to lazily explore the world and thought that there might be some interest the other way round.

I don't crave or encourage any personal recognition for my efforts but confess that I enjoy a sort of minor celebrity status - and all because of this little hobby. It's great that this website opened doors and let me 'do' inaccessible areas, like the church tower, the firemen's drill and behind the scenes at the Paramount. I might also have a small influence on those who are supposed to represent us in various ways.

How does it fit into the Scheme of things?
This website is not primarily a source of news except for a few lines on the Welcome page.

When this project started in 2000, people had a good many personal websites on the internet, usually showing their cat or football team, but there was very little content featuring Penistone. Nowadays, personal websites seem to have largely disappeared, except for a few blogs here and there, as open diaries.

Since then, other local websites have sprung up to fill the holes, add more info and broadcast the local news. You can now find pleasing 360 degree views of Penistone and some very professional pictures on other local websites. There are numerous personal and business websites for Penistone these days. Nobody wants to be left out and most of us help each other with reciprocal links, which also help our status in the search engines. See the Penistone links page.

I have given you a Pictorial view and I know that some photos are poor quality but they serve a valid purpose. In fact, they looked much better when I started, when people had much lower resolution monitors where my pictures looked much larger on the screen. I also needed an operation to improve my failing eyesight, which is now much better. I particularly enjoy doing the events list and it gives me scope for a few whimsical remarks, which probably amuse me more than you.

From square one, I have called this site 'A personal View' and have not misrepresented it as being in any way 'official' or 'definitive'. I leave that up to others. It is a personal website and that has given me the freedom to be a bit jokey and perhaps unprofessional, in keeping with my own character. I can show rainy days or graffiti or someone at a bus stop without worrying too much about constraints (other than decency and privacy concerns) from elsewhere, although I am careful about copyright and attribution than most.

My politics are fairly neutral and I am very democratic in my outlook. That's why I poke remarks at Barnsley council and others whose natural state is to regard everything as secret, for in case they make mistakes or are being economic with the truth. Secrecy lets them do as they wish. Just as an aside, a Freedom of Information (FoI) to BMBC about how much something had cost resulted in them doubling the cost, raising the suspicion that they were punishing the member of public who had submitted the request. It wasn't me, by the way.

I might well offer opinions that don't necessarily fit in with 'official' thinking and, you know what, I don't much care what 'they' might think of it. The internet is open to everyone and others can set up websites to do similar things, and in their own way. Why not? The more, the merrier, I say.

Website Philosophy
You might notice that I do not mind if you leave this website for something more relevent or informative to the subject at hand. The links on these pages are all targeted to open in a new browser tab, for two reasons:

  1. This website is 'frames-based' - an old way of presenting a website but which browsers still support. Unless I target the link outside the page, it opens in the main 'frameset' complete with the Penpic navigation buttons. That obviously doesn't work.
  2. You might like to keep hold of the 'referring page' with its links, in order to follow a different link and continue your studies.

This is not a commercial website and it generates no income. In fact, it costs about £2 a month via the ISP. So it does not matter if you look at something else. If a page is interesting and informative enough, you will probably persist for a while until my verbosity tires you out.

Old Show CommitteeView from Hartcliffe Tower1983 Council
CinemaMarket DayUncle Alfred BriggsThe Fence

What's special about Penistone anyway?
In truth, not a great deal compared to some other towns and villages in the area but Penistone goes back a long way and is mentioned in the Domesday Book. There is a Saxon cross in our lovely old church which is more than a thousand years old. We also have a wonderful stone railway viaduct with twenty-eight arches but, most of all, our town has a particular character in its people.

Local government reorganisation in the 1970s put Penistone under the power of Barnsley and they relish this on every occasion. They even call us 'Pennine Barnsley'; a description that I particularly dislike. New street signs in Penistone have Barnsley insignia of a miner and glass-blower but we don't have much affinity with these industries. The Clarel coat of arms is Penistone's coat of arms.

We are in a special position. Our town is not joined on to any other and we have a special character of our own which is threatened by constant expansion from profit-driven developers. Penistone is largely a 'dormitory town' for out-of-town employment and many 'comers-in' do not take any interest in their adopted town. Apart from Friday nights, when young 'uns go all-out to get drunk, you will mostly find local people chatting away in the local pubs. Penistone's essential character is still intact. People around here are often quirky and there are some real characters about. I hope to be remembered as one or the other.

1947 snow2003 Destruction of Livestock MarketBus sgelter Tesco Protest sign - not clickable Firemen

The Author
I have impeccable credentials as a 100% true Penistonian. I was born here, was a pupil of Spring Vale Junior School (Spring Vale was still two words) then on to Penistone Grammar School, where I survived having George Punt as our form teacher. I continued my education at Stocksbridge College of Further Education (SCFE) where I acquired a couple of 'O' - Levels. I also saw the Prime Minister Harold Wilson officially open the college. The college was a feeder to Fox's steelworks and we could use their canteen. That has gone now and been replaced by a Co-op store on the same site. After working in Barnsley for a while, I went on to do a City & Guilds in Manchester, living in the darkest dumps of Moss Side and Whalley Range. I would travel by train each weekend (via the Woodhead Tunnel) to catch up with family and friends, and have my washing done. After Manchester, I continued to live here in Penistone ever since. My father and grandfather's families were from Thurlstone. I hear you thinking "Now there's a man without ambition". You may well be right.

Supporters and Visitors
All who I have asked to help have been very supportive of this website and I think that they go along with its purposes. Most of all if nobody took an interest, there would be no point in this website so it is you who makes it worthwhile. I do have a lot of hits from people all around the world. My Thanks to you all. Now go and do something useful.


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