A Personal View of Penistone in Pictures

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The Tour
Welcome to the main part of the Penistone Pictorial website. This is mostly a collection of pictures but the difficult part is to give a true impression of the character of our Yorkshire market town on the River Don. Before we start, let us be proud that the Penistone district has its own sense of identity. It is a community and it has a community spirit. The current administrative set-up puts us in the Barnsley Borough, which leads some un-enlightened souls (from beyond our boundaries) to say that we are "In Barnsley". That statement demeans us and devalues our identity, so let us get lose that straight away. Thurlstone is in the Penistone Parish but nobody says they are "In Penistone".

I hope that you will find something of interest here. The aerial views give an impression of the size and setting of Penistone and there are some privileged views from the church tower and behind the scenes in the Town Hall (Paramount Theatre). Please also take a look at the History pages for old photos and bits of local history. By the way, Penistone is officially twinned with Grindavik, which is a similar-sized town in Iceland.

Viaduct2004 Charity open dayPost box in Victoria St.Lookin up

This whole website fits within a rather tight 100 MegaBytes. You might notice a few pithy quotes on (hopefully) the bottom of each page, inspired by an old Daily Express book of wonders called 'Enquire Within'. My thanks go to the Penistone people and ex-pats who have been very helpful and supportive of this project.

Our Town
Penistone is a market town built of Yorkshire stone and red brick, with rural and urban characteristics. Notable landmarks are Penistone Church, the Market Cruck Barn, the Railway Viaduct and Hartcliff Tower folly. The elegant Emley Moor transmitter tower is only a few miles away. We are a small town of distinctive character, surrounded by largely unspoilt countryside and not (so far) contiguous with any other large settlements. A swathe of houses surrounds most of the town, with many of them newly-built but the Railway Viaduct and the QEII Recreation Ground mark out clear boundaries between town and country.

We welcome the many 'comers-in' and hope that they will enjoy and be part of the community spirit. Penistone has mayor, a radio station, a Mayor's Parade, Gala and the hugely popular 'Penistone Show', which brings in thousands of visitors each year. The Show is a wonderful shop window for what our area and Yorkshire in general have to offer. An Armed Forces Day show is also on the cards to becoming a leading annual event in Penistone. The nearby Trans-Pennine Trail is popular with cyclists, dog walkers and horse riders.

Wide view of Penistone

We have a market-place in a recently-built oaken cruck barn, a Town Hall/Cinema/Theatre which is over a century old and an ancient parish church. Penistone Coat of ArmsThe town centre has a bank, two chemists, enough cafes, two pubs, antiques shop, Chinese/Indian/fish & chip take-aways, Spar and Co-op stores, ladies' clothes, Barnsley Hospice shop, bookies, two butchers, four hairdressers and some other shops. A big Tesco food store is a short walk from the town centre.

We also have a Community Centre, Railway Station, Police Station, Fire Station and Post Office. Penistone Grammar School is on the outskirts, with its history traceable to 1392, and now with all of the latest facilities. There are some industries and supply depots in the area, such as cement, non-destructive testing, gasket-making, blacking, steel specialists, corn mills and a lot of farming.

Information on Penistone can be found in Penistone Library and in Penistone Church (Market Days and Saturday mornings). Look for 'An Explorer's Guide to Penistone', which is full of interesting material about our town. Penistone Archives is starting to outgrow its small room in the Community Centre (open Market Day) but it has a wealth of historic information and displays. Visit Penistone is the official website for Penistone (unlike this one) and is the best source of local information. Our Penistone Paramount Theatre is always worth a visit as a traditional cinema with a good programme of film, live or theatre entertainment. It even has intervals and a licenced bar.

The Penistone coat of arms (shown here) is that of Thomas Clarel, the largely absentee Lord of the Manor for Penistone, who drowned in the River Don on May Day, 1442. The Clarel line ended around that time and is no more. There is a page about the Penistone Coat of Arms.

A Vibrant Community
Where have you heard of Penistone?
Was it our legendary ice-cold railway station which many servicemen passed through before Beeching's axe closed the Manchester Line. Was it Sheffield Wednesday football ground on Penistone Road? Or the rare Penistone white-faced breed of sheep? Or Penistone Moors and Penistone Hill where the Brontë sisters lived (different etymology) in Haworth. Or the 'Penistone Line' linking Sheffield with Huddersfield by railway. In the olden days, people wore 'Penistones', which were cheap but warm jackets.

The casual visitor might have the notion that everyone seems to know everyone else and this is partly true but, with the arrival of social media, people are now much more connected than ever before and there is a mood to share experiences, recommendations, concerns, issues and information. The grapevine has always worked well but it works like lighting now. In particular, people discuss anti-social or criminal activity (which you find everywhere), dog-fouling, flooding, waste collections and so on. It also goes well beyond a casual chat on a street corner. It might involve dozens of people discussing the same topic and now we will share photographs, videos, descriptions and much more, as we increasingly have to look out for each other.

Penistone people are often quirky but generally good-natured - and maybe a bit reserved until they get to know you. 'Comers-in' have been arriving in Penistone from all over the UK following the house-building explosion of recent years and all are welcome to be part of the local community. It is not always easy to define what 'community' actually means but the occasional public protest or tragic event lays bare the underlying spirit of our area. I can assert that a good many people who grew up in our area have never left it.




Aerial Penistone

Penistone Coat of Arms
View from the pulpit
Water Hall
Market Street

And in 1993
Penistone Church
From the Church Tower
Public Houses
Paramount Theatre
Cinema Organ
Market Street
Market Barn
Cafés & Tearooms
'Penistone 1' Complex
Around the Streets
Trans-Pennine Trail
Old Fire Station Drill
Milking Time at the Farm
Penistone Library
Penistone Viaduct
Penistone FM
Penistone at Play
Surrounding Area
Old Local Customs
Local Democracy
Coat of Arms
Winter Views

A 'Foreign' Coat of Arms
Barnsley BrandAs Barnsley Council enjoys acting as our Lord of the Manor, rules over our affairs and ignores our Town Council, I think it is reasonable to be completely irreverent to them (Jack blows a raspberry while typing). So you might take the following description of their coat of arms with a big pinch of salt:

Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council (BMBC) decorates our area's street signs, direction posts and (appropriately) wheelie refuse bins with their own coat of arms as though it was a 'tag' like a dog marks its territory. Its design represents their long-lost industries of glass-making and mining (see my description below) and it is only slightly relevant to us, as we in the countryside and a good distance from Barnsley. We didn't make glass in Penistone and the nearest mine was at Silkstone. Our own industries were steel, clay products, nails, beer and vinegar brewing, railway coaches, farming and textiles, although some local people would have worked in Barnsley's mines and other industries.

Our residents might be puzzled about why Barnsley defiles our street signs with its camp glass-blower instead of using Penistone's own Coat of Arms. It all started with the Local Government Act of 1972, enacted in 1974, which put BMBC in command over our area. One comment heard locally was: "Well, if we can have our own mayor, why can't we use our own Coat-of-Arms on the signage?"

BMBC's Latin motto of 'Spectemur Agendo' means: 'Judge Us by Our Actions'. Now, I would call that downright reckless or at least ill-chosen, given their usual antics. You see, they are happy to drain us of funds (Council Tax, house-build back-handers, Section 106 Funds, etc.), but not willing to give much in return.

Barnsley Council-watching can be a rewarding and often hilarious game (in a 'dark humour' sort of way). It doesn't really need me to strip them of any remaining dignity, as they are quite capable of doing that for themselves. However, I'm on a roll so, why not?

The following is an unofficial interpretation of the Barnsley coat of arms to interest my website visitors and perhaps educate you in an inappropriate manner. Their emblem sports a camp and blousey character on the left, wearing flared 1970s trousers and carrying the traditional Barnsley 'yard of ale'. This no doubt refers to wild nights in their pubs and clubs. The other side has a serious-looking miner, laying down his tools ready to go on strike. This shows the two worlds of night and the day. The central griffon takes a particular dislike to the reveller by sticking his tongue out. Unless it's a come-on. You never know with dragons. The crossed pick-axes reflect upon BMBC's political sympathies, with echoes of the hammer and sickle, yet who but a gentleman would know what a set-square represents. This covers the social strata.

In fact, the opposites of Rich and Poor are well symbolised. Doorknobs refer to council estates (because posh people have handles) whilst the cigar tubes denote great affluence relished by over-paid council bosses and the generous councillor allowances (£10,000+ allowances, plus 'expenses' and perks), to keep them in check. The griffon is standing on a piece of old rope, which is symbolic of profligate council decisions.

The roulette wheel did not appear until local government re-organisation in 1974 when Barnsley conquered the outlying places like Penistone and appropriated our property. This gave them more money to experiment with (think 'Halo' and 'Tuscan Village'). So, that covers profligacy, although a bucket might have worked better here. On several levels.

An official explanation of the Barnsley coat of arms read somewhat differently, although an occasional use of commas might have made it easier to follow. It has a Grassy Mount to the dexter and a Pile of Coal to the sinister all proper. Or so they say. I'm no expert but my version is better. The roulette wheel is properly called an 'Escarbuncle', of the same etymology (and aptness) as 'carbuncle'.

From above Wellhouse Lane
The view from Wellhouse Lane, May 2011

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