The Elsecar Story

A Yorkshire village built by rich aristocrats, Elsecar quickly became an international centre of ironmaking and coalmining. The village is now a much-loved place to visit, with independent shops and cafes, artist and maker studios, antiques centre, tasty cafes, beer tap and traditional pubs, beautiful walking and cycling routes, award-winning park, nature reserve and reservoir, and much more.

Built to be shown off, the Earls Fitzwilliam brought aristocrats and Royalty here. They gazed at our glowing furnaces that reached high into the sky. They went deep into collieries. They marvelled at spectacular architecture, industry and extraordinary innovation. Queen Victoria was taken outside the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace, to see a giant column of coal taken there specially from Elsecar.

Working together, with skill and dedication, our villagers made amazing things. Great bridges, including for famous engineers the Brunels, were cast. Huge engines that powered the industrial revolution were constructed here. Armour for battleships was rolled, including for the Royal Navy’s first ironclad battleship, HMS Warrior. They mined millions of tonnes of coal, which was sent all around the world.

That rich history has left an extraordinary variety of archaeological sites and buildings, many of which are listed or are Scheduled Ancient Monuments. To discover much more about the history and built heritage of the village, you can download a full Historic Area Assessment, created as part of our Heritage Action Zone partnership with Historic England.

At the centre of Elsecar, the New Yard workshops are now a busy home for dozens of independent shops, artists and maker studios, tasty cafes, a beer tap and a vast antiques centre. Alongside all this, The Ironworks event space hosts concerts and gigs, weddings and celebrations, markets and fairs. Thousands gather for impressive performances, day and night, and much-loved festivals.

While you’re here, discover our park with its iconic bandstand, spectacular views and many awards to its name. Our reservoir has been transformed into a nature reserve with a diverse range of wildlife. Wander or ride down the canal towpath, now the Trans Pennine trail.

Want to really explore the history of Elsecar? Enjoy a guided tour with our expert guides.