Penistone Street Views

Church Street
This street is very old and was established a long time before Shrewsbury Road became the main road. A school building for Penistone Grammar School was on or near this 'Kirk Flatt' site even before it was rebuilt in 1702. It is possible that the pre-1702 school had been sited closer to the current Market Street, and possibly on the site of an even older ale-house. The school closed in 1892 and a new school built at Wierfield, to just above the current Netherfield PGS site. The first picture is looking from about halfway down the hill, with the churchyard wall to the left and the green doors of Don Press/Woods Printers to the right.

A Royal inquisition from 1604 showed that all of the land belonged (via Thomas Clarel) to the Grammar School. From Dransfield's History of Penistone: 'All of the Houses, Stables, Buildings, and Gardens, in the North end of the Towne betwixt St. Marie-lane and the Cockpit-lane, and beinge the gift of one Lord Clarel of Aldewarke ... (etc., a very long statement)'. Described as 'the absentee landlord of Penistone', Thomas Clarel drowned in the River Don on 1st May 1442.

After the old school buildings were demolished, a grand new building was built as a bank (mostly off the first picture) and it formed the curve of the road into Church Street. The site was sold to Sheffield Union Banking Co. Ltd.  The bank was later taken over by the Midland Bank, which became HSBC Bank (Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation). HSBC also closed its branches at Denby Dale, Holmfirth, Almondbury and many other places.

The part of the bank building occupied by Dransfield solicitors is visible in the first picture. Dransfield's history stretched back to the nineteenth century. Dransfield's changed hands and became Andrew Eleanor's newspapers and stationers shop, which became 'Robinson's News' and, from 2007, 'J&B's Antiques and Collectables' thrived in the building and brought some much-needed variety to Penistone's shops. After a doubling of rent, the antiques shop closed in the autumn of 2017.

To its right is Cockpit Lane, a short lane which formerly led to a cock-fighting pit (referred to above in 1604). They had different entertainment in the old days. The lane leads to an 'Eighteen Foot Wide' access road to the rear of the printing works and a few post-war houses. On the lower side of Cockpit Lane are houses which were built around the 1870s and were (or are) owned by the Penistone Grammar School Trust. It also owns the former JT's furniture shop on the end of Market Street.

Top of Church Street National School MDCCCXXII Church Hill

The next features of interest would be the Arthouse Café and Hacket's florist and gift shop, if you could see them on the photo. The green doors are the printing works, which still operates under its old names, 'The Don Press' and 'Wood's Printer' - take your pick. It manufactures such as rosettes and prize cards for agricultural shows and has at least three old printing presses and facilities for such as hot foil pressings.

Just off the picture again, to the right, is the entrance to the community centre car park which leads us to the next picture, the former National School, with its pointy double-glazed windows. This is an old picture and the front of the building now has a stone wall and fencing to separate it from the busy car park of the Community Centre (the former St John's school). One of the buildings houses the council offices and the redoubtable Town Clerk with his secretaries. Penistone History and Archive group can be found in the Lower Hall of the Community Centre on Market days.

The National school had been built in 1822 as a school for girls. The stone on the gable end overlooks Church Street and reads: 'Female National School - Endowed by Mr. Joseph Camm of Beverley A.D. MDCCCXXII'. The Roman numerals add up like this - 1000(M) + 500(D) + 300(CCC) + 20(XX) + 2(II) = 1822.

It had been occasionally used by local freemasons but not much else and it fell into disrepair. It also attracted a variety of pharmaceutically-minded youths who damaged the windows and roof. Even in daytime, you might find someone bouncing a ball on the low roof to watch the tiles break off. Idle hands at work.

In 2009, the old National School was repaired and much extended to become the home of 'Busy Bees' for pre-school children. It was a big and expensive project which transformed it into a modern building with good facilities and a proper outside play area. Busy Bees is a well-funded national organisation which sets up these nurseries for young children as commercial operations. Controversially, Busy Bees had planned to build on the Showground, but that is sacrosanct to Penistone people. Very unusually, a public objection actually worked and Busy Bees had to find an alternative place. That's why it moved here.

A Coincidence and a Little Puzzle
The houses on Church Street have changed little over more than a century. The last picture here looks down this very old street on an autumn evening, complete with fallen leaves from the churchyard. Just off the picture is a house with an unusual, castellated roof feature. It belonged to Zachariah W Tinker, who was a joiner and coffin-maker and had been involved in constructing houses at the top end of the street.

In a case of history repeating itself, the current occupant of Mr Tinker's old house is Mr Paul Barkworth, a carpenter who has also worked on one of the same houses higher up the street as Mr Tinker. While renovating No. 3a, Paul discovered an interesting secret. Pencilled on the reverse side of a floorboard were the names of Zechariah Tinker, Joseph Hodgson, Mary Stephens (which could be Mary and Stephen) and something which was not legible.

Now the puzzle. Paul has the building plans for No. 3a, titled: 'Plan of two houses and a shop to be erected in Penistone for ZW Tinker 1877'. Oddly enough, the marked floorboard had the date 'May 13 1865', but why was the floorboard dated before its plans had been drawn up? Paul had been renovating No. 3a for it to become the Arthouse Café, ready for his daughter Frances to operate (and very successfully) as its proprietor. The café opened in July 2011. Many thanks to Frances for passing this story on to me.

The bottom end of Church Street used to have a millinery shop but it is now an ordinary dwelling. This was where Church Street joins Shrewsbury Road, near the Fish and Chip shop and Green Kleen's (now closed), although in earlier times it was Church Street that was the main way through. Shrewsbury Road was not properly 'adopted' until around the time the Town Hall was built in 1914. It is likely that the oldest houses on Church Street are at the lower end.


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