Stunning Digital Reconstruction Reveals Yorkshire Village’s Remarkable Industrial Past

The Victorian past of Elsecar, the model industrial village at the heart of South Yorkshire, has been brought to life in a stunning new digital reconstruction and animation.

Thanks to the efforts of local volunteer historians, national experts and the expertise of a skilled digital creator, visitors can now experience what the village was like 140 years ago.

An international centre of iron and coal, the village was built by the aristocrats of Wentworth Woodhouse, who showed it off to visiting aristocrats and Royalty.

Cutting-edge digital technology has reimagined busy ironworks, collieries, canal boats, long-gone smoky chimneys and vividly captured street scenes. Visitors will be transported back to a time when Elsecar’s iron and coal was sent all around the world.

Elsecar was famed for its bridges and even made armour for HMS Warrior, the Royal Navy’s first iron-clad battleship.

The village is also home to the world’s oldest steam engine still in its original location. Built in 1795 at the New Colliery, it features on the new animation.

The model’s incredible detail and historical accuracy is expected to inspire people by its innovative technology and the engineering excellence of a bygone age, thanks to hundreds of hours of painstaking effort and the support of Historic England.

Elsecar was one of the first Heritage Action Zone schemes in the country, set up by Historic England to unleash the power of the historic environment to create economic growth and improve quality of life.

As part of the Heritage Action Zone, local volunteers worked with expert historians, archaeologists and investigators to research and support understanding of Elsecars’ past, declaring it to be of international importance through research done during the project.

Many of its buildings are now Grade II* listed and new Scheduled Ancient Monuments have been designated.

The historic buildings at the centre of the village are now one of South Yorkshire’s most popular visitor attractions, attracting over 500,000 visitors each year, providing a home to 40 independent businesses and hosting major events and festivals. The lasting legacy of the Heritage Action Zone is supporting plans for growth and recovery based on heritage and culture.

The project is also a legacy of the Great Place partnership between Elsecar and Wentworth Woodhouse, which celebrated the close historic ties between the two sites, supported by Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Over the last year, digital creator Martin Moss of Dextra Visual has completed the new animation:

Martin said: ‘Elsecar has an extraordinary story. It’s been a privilege to bring the village of 1880 back to life. People have been so emotional seeing what their village used to be like, connecting them to their ancestors and what their world was like.’

Dave Went, Historical Investigator for Historic England, said: ‘The sheer size and detail of this digital model is immense. It really does capture what a special, distinctive and carefully designed village Elsecar was.’

Councillor Robert Frost, Cabinet Spokesperson for Place, said: ‘Elsecar holds a special place in people’s hearts and it’s incredible that its past is now so visible in the present. We look forward to sharing this incredible film with visitors, as they come to see what an astonishing place Elsecar is now, and witness the exciting changes we have planned for the future.’

Watch the digital reconstruction here