A Personal View of Penistone in Pictures

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The Tour
Welcome to the main part of this website, which is mostly few pictures with too many words. The difficult part is to give a true impression of the character of our Yorkshire market town. Before we start, local residents are proud to have a sense of identity and a community spirit, partly because of our physical location which is on its own and partly because so many local people have always stayed put. Ours is a semi-rural setting which is not part of any conurbation. We have fields, trees, farms and fresh air.

Just before we start - the name! If you live here it is of no consequence and unlikely to be discussed at all and yet, to others it can be a source of great amusement for about five minutes. The Playboy magazine once placed us in the Yorkshire Dales but that was wrong as we are not far from Derbyshire, in South Yorkshire. There are stories that search engines won't allow 'Penistone' through but that is a myth really, firstly because there is little evidence that it happens, secondly because it is not one of the more vulgar or slang words. Those asterisks are simply not needed. Anyway, the name comes from our being at around 750 feet above sea level, from 'Pen' meaning 'hill' and as a settlement or a village. It has been spelt many different ways such as Pengeston(e) and often 'Peniston' without the 'e' at the end in old documents. Now that is out of the way, some more verbiage about our distinctive hilltop town.

Penistone had long adopted the Clarel coat of arms from absentee Lord of the Manor Thomas Clarel who drowned in the River Don in 1442. The Clarel line ended around that time but the local Town Council, local clubs and societies still often use the distinctive emblem of six footless birds, or variants thereof. The local Grammar School also retains the martlets in its imagery.

Arms of Penistone

So, where might you have you heard of Penistone? Was it our legendary ice-cold railway station from the old days of the Woodhead Line; or Sheffield Wednesday football ground on Penistone Road; or the rare white-faced Penistone breed of sheep; or Penistone Moors and Penistone Hill in Haworth where the Brontë sisters lived? Or perhaps the scenic 'Penistone Line' railway linking Sheffield with Huddersfield through many tunnels. In the olden days people throughout the land knew the Penistone name from cheap but very warm 'Penistones' jackets made of local wool. In the context of Penistone Grammar School, the local historian John N Dransfield wrote:

'Many years before Barnsley, Sheffield and Huddersfield began to take up the question of education; indeed in 1397, and for many years after, Penistone would probably be a more important and opulent place than either Barnsley, Sheffield, or Huddersfield.' 

Penistone has a thriving community with a Town Council, spacious Town Hall (Paramount Theatre), Sports Centre, Radio Station, Mayor, annual Mayor's Parade and Gala and, of course, the ever-popular Penistone Agricultural Show. The Show brings in thousands of visitors as a wonderful shop window for what our district can offer. The 'Tour de Yorkshire' cycling event has passed through our district more than once, to great enthusiasm from Penistone and district residents and has been remarked upon in television coverage.

The Trans-Pennine Trail passes through Penistone as it stretches from coast to coast and is popular with cyclists, dog walkers and horse riders as a convenient and accessible way to enjoy the countryside. Penistone is a friendly place where people still say "Hello" and "Good Morning" for no better reason than we are simply friendly like that. With the explosion of house-building in the area and good access to road and rail, we welcome the many 'comers-in' to our country district and hope that they will be part of the community and support local businesses (see below for more information for visitors and new residents).


Town Map
This is a scrollable and zoomable map from © 'OpenStreetMap' under the Open Database Licence (Copyright). Barnsley Council's 'Public Rights of Way' map can be made full-screen and has a lot of detail. Their Zoomable Street Map at Barnsley Planning does much the same.


Local Walks
Local walks can be found on these links. You will probably need waterproof clothes and boots and perhaps sandwiches and water:

BMBC Beat the Street
Juniors might like to join 'Beat the Street' where you walk around (or 'beat' as in a bobby's beat) the streets and collect points by putting a special counter next to strategically-placed boxes (about 20 in our district).

Youtube Videos
The Village Idiot (Andy Smith) has done some very interesting parish tours on Youtube which include Penistone, Stocksbridge and our neighbouring villages. Andy has set himself the mission to do the whole country on video. The Guide to South Yorkshire has a fuzzy video from 2014, which takes a brief look at Penistone as part of the Around and About in Yorkshire collection. Another in that series is an interesting circular walk around Denby Dale, which reaches up to The George at Upper Denby and the High Flatts Quaker House (with a brief glimpse of Mr D Cooke) before returning to Denby Dale. 'Let's Walk' has short tour of Penistone town centre.

There is a good video for Hepworth Feast which shows Hepworth Brass Band and a procession visiting Scholes on its way. Not far from Upper Denby is Ivor Lloyd's Walk Around Ingbirchworth Reservoir on Youtube, which is very peaceful and easy. I suggest that you park around the bend at the far end of the reservoir wall to start and finish rather than in the village because of limited parking there. You might visit the Fountain pub while you are nearby, if it is open. then take the fresh air as you walk back to the car.


The Tour Sections
I hope that you will find something of interest here. The aerial views give a good impression of the size and setting of Penistone and then we have some privileged views from the church tower and behind the scenes and stage of the Town Hall. If you look at some of the walks below, you will find some Youtube tours of Penistone. As a matter of courtesy, if you copy pictures from this website for use elsewhere, please credit their source, Thank You.

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Aerial Penistone church, 1977

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

Penistone Church
From the Church Tower
Public Houses
Paramount Theatre
Cinema Organ
Market Street
Market Barn
Cafés & Tearooms
Penistone 1
Around the Streets
Trans-Pennine Trail
Milking Time at the Farm
Penistone Library
Penistone Viaduct
Penistone FM
Penistone at Play
Surrounding Area
Old Local Customs
Miscellaneous
Town Centre Plan
Local Democracy
Coat of Arms
Winter Views

The main sections are reached using the navbar on the left, while the links in this table are to just the 'Tour' topics. As with all of the pages, each page bottom has symbols linking to: the section's Index (section introduction) Back, to the Page Top Top and a superfluous one back to the Welcome page Home for completeness. There is also a motto or famous quote just for fun and because there is space for it. Where there is no index for a section, the left arrow is missing.


For Visitors to Penistone and District
Although Penistone is sometimes claimed to be the highest market town in the country, that has been debunked and the prize goes to somewhere in Wales, putting us in second place. Because Penistone is quite high above sea level, it is often cold and breezy but its position east of the Pennines protects us somewhat from much of Lancashire's rainfall. Although Penistone is being over-developed, it is a largely rural town which retains a sense of identity. The countryside is in easy walking distance from any Penistone address and within easy driving distance of scenic places such as the local reservoirs or Cannon Hall.

Bike LogoCar parking
This is often tricky in Penistone and any on-street parking near the town centre is not recommended because the streets often become blocked and residents' tempers frazzled. The easiest car park to find is the time-limited and large car park at Tesco but with small car parks at the Paramount (Shrewsbury Road) and the Community Centre (Church Street).

You might be able to park on Shrewsbury Road unless there is a show or film running at the Paramount, when both the road and the Paramount car park will be full to bursting. The Paramount has a charging area for electric vehicles. Please do not park anywhere on Park Avenue as it is a bus route which is easily clogged up and large vehicles stop there deliver to the Co-op and Spar supermarkets.

The Railway Station car park is usually full and with jack-booted wardens to keep a close eye on the car park and its approach road. They do issue parking tickets. Every main road into Penistone passes under a low bridge of some sort and it is very rare to see tall vehicles in Penistone, such as double-decker buses. Possible but unlikely. Bear in mind that Penistone is always busy on the Market Days of Thursdays and Saturdays, with parking in high demand. Having said all that, you will nearly always find a spot in the Tesco car park, especially at the Market Barn end.

The Trans-Pennine Trail
This is a popular local route for walkers, horse-riders and cyclist as it passes close to Penistone town centre and our town is a magnet for this sort of activity. There is easy access to the Trans-Pennine from many local sites but perhaps the best place to park is an area by Julie's Cafe with plenty of car parking space on rough ground and it is not time-limited. Very conveniently, ' Cycle Penistone CIC' is a bicycle hire centre right next to Julie's Cafe and the Trail, so you don't even need to bring a bike. It can also do bike repairs.

If entering Penistone by car from Bridge End traffic lights, turn right at the St Mary's Street Roundabout after the bridge at the top of the hill. You will then see Julie's Cafe and the parking area ahead. In fact, the bridge carries the Trans-Pennine Trail, although it was formerly for the railway to Manchester. There is a also small parking area to the right of Tesco which is not time-limited, if you head towards Tesco from the roundabout. You can also access the Trail from the Railway Station and from the Community Centre, Church Street. As it says above, the station car park is usually full and you might be better parking near Church View Road or Eastfield Avenue, which used to be an old entrance to the station and is a direct access to the Trail.

See the Town Centre Plan page to get your bearings. For more information about the Trans-Pennine Trail, please visit Trans-Pennine Trail. Cyclists can download off-road maps from SusTrans. Please observe these rules so that everyone can enjoy their visit to the Trail (taken from the official BMBC sign on the Trail):

The Trans-Pennine Trail
- Please help everyone enjoy the Trail safely,
- Watch your speed,
- Keep dogs under control and clean up after them,
- Consider other users,
- Leave wild flowers for others to enjoy,
- Take your litter and dog poo home.
Cyclists - by law you must give way to walkers and horse-riders on public bridleways (including the TPT) under Section 30 of the Countryside Act 1968.

To report Trans-Pennine Trail issues in the Penistone area or for more information about the Trans-Pennine Trail, please contact Barnsley Council's Public Rights of Way team on 01226 773 555.

Eating, Drinking and Shopping
Penistone is not short of cafes, take-aways, fish and chip shops and bars. There are two public houses in the town centre, two at Bridge End and Cubley Hall a short drive up the steep Mortimer Road, which is on the bus route from Penistone. In recent years two more bars opened near the church and a new cafe by the Co-op has an upstairs bar. There is also a British Legion club for members and affiliated RBL members. Penistone Church Football Club has a popular clubhouse with bar on Church View Road and Penistone Bowling Club is right next to tesco with a comfortable clubhouse with a bar. Even our great hall of entertainment, the Paramount, has a bar which is open before the shows and in the intervals.

The town centre has two Indian take-aways, one of which is also a restaurant and there is another Indian by Bridge End traffic lights. Spring Vale has a popular Chinese take-away. There are cafes in the town centre, Spring Vale and by the Trans-Pennine Trail. The town centre has two chemists, Spar and Co-op food stores, ladies' clothes, a charity shop, beer shops, three butchers, several hairdressers and other shops. The big Tesco food store and car park is a short walk from the town centre. We have lost our three banks and the building society but the Post Office can do some of the financial stuff. Penistone's shops might not be as inspiring or varied as such as Holmfirth but they are still worth a shufti.

Take a Picture
Ours is a small town but of distinctive character, surrounded by largely unspoilt countryside and not (so far) contiguous with any other settlements. The iconic views of Penistone are the church on the hill, the viaduct and the River Don with Watermeadows Park at its side. Penistone's terrain is hilly, rising to over 700 feet towards the South. The town sits by the River Don which lies in a glacially-etched vale running East - West.

Our undulating fields are separated by dry-stone walls and usually with sheep or cows grazing. Some of outlying farms are centuries old. An ever-increasing swathe of red-brick houses fills most of the town but the Railway Viaduct and QEII Recreation Ground (aka the Showground) mark natural boundaries between town and country. The oldest buildings are of Yorkshire stone. Our neighbouring village of Thurlstone is more traditional in style with good examples of weavers' cottages. A very visible landmark is the elegant Emley Moor transmitter tower a few miles away which is always a welcome sight when returning from afar.

viaduct

Of particular scenic interest to the photographer or videographer is the railway viaduct, which was opened on 1st July 1850. Its 29 stone arches sweep across the vale in an arc with a radius of half a mile (40 chains), with Watermeadows Park on the 'town' side and arable fields on the 'country' side. The viaduct is in daily use conveying trains between Penistone and Huddersfield and might be best viewed from Watermeadows Park by the Don. From time to time the viaduct carries the steam-hauled 'Tin Bath' excursions which you might see best from the top of Wentworth Crescent. This photo was taken from the top of the church tower but visitors are not allowed up there as the last part of the climb is better suited to a mountain climber.

If you arrive at the station around twenty past the hour, you might see the train arriving from Huddersfield over the viaduct into Penistone Station. It gives a little wiggle on the way in. The trip to Huddersfield is quite scenic and you can buy a ticket from the ticket machine on the platform (don't get on the train without one). The last arch of the viaduct passes over the busy Sheffield Road. At 14 foot 9 inches, it is frequently struck by lorries and sometimes more than once a week.

Until the closure of the Woodhead Line, Penistone Station was a busy and important junction with trains connecting with Manchester Piccadilly, Sheffield Victoria and Huddersfield. The station was often called 'the coldest in England' to wait at but its waiting room always had a raging coal fire. It also had a cafe but they are both long gone now. Trains to Sheffield were later diverted to Barnsley over the attractive Oxspring viaduct and Sheffield Victoria closed down. The old railway line became the Trans-Pennine Trail, referred to below. We can now go to Meadow Hall by train (via Barnsley) to rid ourselves of excess shopping funds.

Penistone church is a fine, ancient listed building with many features to please the photographer. It has an interesting churchyard with even its own obelisk at the lower end. Gravestone dates start from the mid-18th century and finish around 1890 when a new cemetery opened on the edge of town. Some old stones are part of the pavement. There must be many unmarked graves going back much earlier. Parts of the church date back to the thirteenth century and the 500-year-old tower has two clock faces and contains a fine carillon of eight bells. Bell-ringers give a fine performance every Thursday evening from 7.30pm. If you live in our district, you will love the quality and sound of the eight church bells.

A stainless steel weather vane in the shape of a fish can be seen at the top of the tower. The stainless steel represents the local steel industry and the fish (icthus) was an ancient and secret sign of Christianity from when Christians were persecuted. Inside the church, part of a Saxon stone is built into a wall near the pulpit and had originally been used as the focal point for Christian worship on top of the hill, long before the church was built. The War Memorial was erected in 1924, the same year that the tower gained its second clock face. There has been a spate of new War Memorials erected in recent years, particularly in Thurlstone, Thurgoland and Ingbirchworth.

Markets
Penistone's main Market Day is Thursday with a smaller one on Saturdays, from around 9am but stalls start to pack up soon in the early afternoon. We could call the Market Barn a 'Marmite' thing as people either love it or hate it; but it does come in handy on Market Days and is sometimes used for other events, such as bands, Easter singing, Hallowe'en and Oktoberfest. Also on Thursdays (10am to noon) is a 'Country Market' in the Community Centre, selling jams, chutneys, pies, vegetables, bread and more and where you can get a cup of tea and a bun.

New Market - Not clickable

We 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. The new version has all of the latest facilities. There are various industries and supply depots in the area, such as cement, non-destructive testing, gasket-making, blacking, steel specialists, corn mills and the town is surrounded by plenty of farming.

The Paramount
Penistone is very proud of its film and thespian theatre which is more than a century old. The Paramount is (in normal times) very busy, with a full schedule of films, plays, pantomimes, comedy nights and music performances (mostly evenings). In the old days it was also used for popular dances and as an assembly hall for public meetings, hustings and unions.

To the irritation of film distributors, the Paramount has proper intervals in its film and other performances, so that the public can have a few moments to reflect on the entertainment in the hospitality room, with perhaps a pint of beer or cup of tea. We are very civilised in Penistone and we can even bring our pint back into the theatre.

The Paramount was designed from the start as a theatre and assembly room in 1914, having a stage and proscenium arch, and was paid for by public subscription with a little extra on the rates. It started film shows in 1915 and they have continued ever since. The Paramount is run by Penistone Town Council and is one of very few council-run venues of this type in the country. Originally called 'The Town hall Cinema,' for one unlamented period Barnsley Council imposed the unloved name of 'The Metro' upon it. Sense prevailed when the cinema organ was installed and the name changed to the more appropriate 'Paramount.'

Town Hall 2014

Penistone Events
We don't have a lot of public events but our main ones are very popular. We have the Mayor's Parade and Penistone Gala (both on the second Sunday of June), Penistone Agricultural Show (second Saturday of September), Remembrance Sunday with a large parade and assembly by the War Memorial and church service. There have also been two Penistone Armed Forces Days so far and its organising group hoping to make it an annual event with a Military Parade and a large military event on the Showground.

Penistone Arts Week had a shaky start around 2008 then made a big comeback in recent years with celebrity authors and others presenting a range of free and paid activities. Penistone also has other arts and crafts events such as the annual 'Art at the Altar' in Penistone church. Penistone even has its own and very small art gallery (Shrewsbury Road) dedicated to its resident artist.

Sport and Recreation
A large field behind Tesco is usually called 'The Showground.' It is designated a 'Queen Elizabeth II Field in Trust' and exclusively preserved for recreational use. It is used for Penistone Agricultural Show (second Saturday of September), Bonfire Night (nearest Saturday to Guy Fawkes Night), Penistone Gala (June) and some horsey events. Also for kids playing football, dog walkers, joggers and the rest. The adjacent Trans-Pennine Trail is also very popular with walkers, joggers, cyclists and dog-walkers. The Showground field also has a dedicated skate park next to the trail.

Penistone Mayor's Parade Weekend
This normally stretches from Friday to the actual Parade and Gala day on the Sunday, usually the second Sunday of June in recent years. The Parade always brings out the crowds and the Gala has all manner of entertainments such as: brass bands, trade and charity stalls, food and drink vendors, Real Ale bar and children's rides. This was a typical Parade weekend in 2019, as a rough guide:

Penistone Show

Penistone's most important annual event and crowd-puller is Penistone Agricultural Show, which has all of the Gala activities and more. The annual Show is on the second Saturday of September and is regarded as the largest one-day event of its kind in the country. It is Penistone's most important and prestigious event and attracts exhibitors and crowds of thousands of people from far and wide. Well-organised on-field parking is provided on the day. The Show first started in 1854, pausing only for two world wars and a pandemic.

Penistone also has a variety of sporting venues and events, such as Penistone Church Football Club (Church View Road), Penistone Cricket Club (Queen Street, Spring Vale), Park Runs around the Showground and nearby Trans-Pennine Trail and Penistone Footpath Runners, based at the Football Club, organises some serious running events on the roads, hills and moors. The Sports Centre aka 'Penistone Leisure Centre' (Manchester Road) has its own full range of indoor sporting activities and will soon have a board games club and cafe.

Moving In?
Penistone has for at least a century had an estate agency of one sort or another and you can find both Simon Blyth and Lancaster agencies in our town. If you are moving into our district, you will find a good welcome but particularly if you become part of our semi-rural community. It used to be said that 'everybody knows everybody' around here but that is less true with the expanding town. By the way, if you ever hear the term 'Comer-in' it is not to be taken too seriously. It is not 'hate' speech. It used to be said (and not very seriously) that you are a 'Comer-in' unless at least one of you grandparents was born around here. That was from when very few people removed to somewhere new. A smattering of Yorkshire dialect could well endear you to local inhabitants.

"Tha what?" As a local resident, you will often hear "Good morning" or "Hello" or even "Eyup!" when passing strangers in the street. That is normal and you won't be mugged if you politely reciprocate with a similar greeting. But they will look askance if you do not respond at all. Even a nod might do. They don't want your life story but a small interaction is welcome and helps stave an idea that you are a stuck-up snob. There is still some Yorkshire dialect around but less so as time goes on. You can depend on an interesting debate with total strangers in a shop or bus queue if you mention Teacakes/breadcakes/barmcakes, etc., then leave them to argue about it between themselves for the next half-hour. Another key word is 'Pikelet' - but don't get me started.

As a newbie, you need to buy new things and, hopefully, to brush up your local knowledge about your adopted hometown. A good starting point would be Penistone's official website, 'Visit Penistone' and its 'High Street' page. If you want to be involved in local activities and events, Facebook is a good window on local activities (see below) and take a look at the Events List. If you like local history, take a look at Penistone History and Archive Group or pay them a visit in the Community centre on Market Days (Thursday). They also have bi-monthly history talks on Wednesdays.

If you are on Facebook, take a look at these buying and selling groups: 'We are Penistone - sell, buy and local info,' 'Items for sale in Penistone' and 'S36 Promote Your Business.' The local community groups are often filled with useful questions like: "Where can I get ..." - or - "Who can repair ..." etc. And lost cats, of course, always lost cats. Take a look at: 'Community Action Penistone,' 'Penistone Community Forum,' 'Thurlstone Community Group' and 'We are Millhouse Green,' 'Millhouse Green Village Community Association' also 'Hoylandswaine Events Group.' The lost cats always turn up.


Penistone

A Vibrant Community
Penistone people are often quirky but generally good-natured - and maybe a bit reserved until they get to know you. Try out a "Good Morning" or a "How Do?" to a passing stranger and you are very likely to receive the same in return and possibly a smile. Following the great house-building explosion of recent years 'Comers-in' have arrived from all over the UK and all are welcome to be part of our local community. I can assert that a good many people who grew up in our area have never left it.

It is not always easy to define what 'Community' actually means but there is an underlying spirit in our area which readily comes to the surface in times of adversity, pleasure or pain. The Penistone grapevine has always been fairly efficient but it now works like greased lighting through the use of social media. Local area people often share their experiences, recommendations, concerns, issues and information on such as Facebook and anyone coming to live here would benefit greatly from joining in.

Visit Penistone is the official website for Penistone (unlike this one) and the best source of local information. Other information and leaflets can be found in Penistone Library and Penistone Church (Market Days and Saturday mornings). Look for 'An Explorer's Guide to Penistone', which is full of interesting material. Penistone Archives in the Community Centre (open Market Days) has a wealth of historic information and displays and various history talks. Our Penistone Paramount Theatre is always worth a visit as a traditional cinema and theatre with a full programme of film, live and theatre entertainment. It even has traditional intervals and a fully-licenced bar.

Viaduct2004 Charity open dayPost box in Victoria St.Lookin up

An 'Alien' Coat of Arms
As Barnsley Council rules over our affairs, it is reasonable to be completely irreverent to them (Jack blows a raspberry). Come on, join in. You can be sure that if they actually do anything for us, it will be accompanied by a great publicity campaign to wring out every last bit of supposed virtue.

Our residents might well be puzzled about why Barnsley Council defiles our street signs, direction posts and (appropriately) wheelie bins with a rather camp glass-blower and a miner, like a dog marking out its territory. Penistone has its very own Coat of Arms of six swift-like and footless birds (martlets) on a red background. The Local Government Act had put BMBC in control of our area and they have delighted in plastering BMBC symbols all over the borough. Worse than that, they usually fail to draw a distinction between Barnsley borough and Barnsley town, which that is demeaning to any district with its own sense of identity. They say 'in Barnsley' and to be 'proud of Barnsley.' Litter bin labels say 'Keep Barnsley Clean' (I retorted 'Shop in Penistone instead').

A local person said: "If we can have our own Mayor, why can't we use our own Coat-of-Arms on our local signage?" Well, in theory at least, maybe we could. In conversation with Cllr Ken Richardson, the Barnsley Mayor of 2014, he said that it was a good idea and Penistone Town Council could petition Barnsley Council for new signs to include our own coat of arms. It might happen some day and our litter bins could then be labelled with 'Keep Penistone Tidy!'

From above Wellhouse Lane
The view from Wellhouse Lane, May 2011. Erm, this pleasant view is earmarked by BMBC for another housing development.


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