Barnsley, on the edge of the Peak District and Pennine Yorkshire, is undergoing a transformation, attracting visitors by building on its traditions and proud industrial heritage.
Barnsley revels in its Yorkshireness, and its fair share of notable sons and daughters, including Dickie Bird, Michael Parkinson, Joanne Harris and Ian McMillan, ensure the small town’s high profile.
Barnsley is home to some of the best brass bands - Grimethorpe Colliery Band now having worldwide recognition - and was the setting for films such as Kes and Brassed Off.
Visit the town centre for its great market, the fine art on display at the Cooper Gallery and the inspirational crafts at the Design Centre. Nearby, Elsecar Heritage Centre features a steam railway and restored historical buildings which now house an antique centre, craft workshops and exhibitions of Elsecar’s past. The centre also provides easy access the coast-to-coast Trans Pennine Trail and is close to picturesque Wentworth village.
Doncaster was founded in Roman times, when it was an important garrison on the London to York route. Horse breeding for the stagecoach trade gave rise to Doncaster Racecourse and the founding of the Great Northern Railway Locomotive and Carriage Works, the factory that built the Flying Scotsman and the Mallard. The racecourse is home to the world’s oldest Classic horse race, the St Leger, first held in 1776.
Doncaster’s skyline is dominated by St George’s Church. Designed by the great Sir Gilbert Scott in 1858, this splendid Gothic Revival minster boasts a rare Schulze organ, the largest organ in Britain, and fine Victorian glass.
Doncaster Market is one of the largest traditional markets in the country, while the new Frenchgate Centre provides a modern shopping experience.
The impressive white circular keep of Conisbrough Castle dates back to around 1180. Made of magnesian limestone, it is the only one of its type in England. Recently renovated and co-managed by English Heritage, the Norman castle is a major attraction and includes a visitor centre.
Nearby Brodsworth Hall, a Victorian country house, and the 18th century Cusworth Hall are well worth visiting.
With over a million visitors a year, The Dome at Lakeside is a top sports and leisure attraction and includes a seven-pool Water World with two giant flumes, geysers, fountains, a split-level ice rink and a climbing wall.
Aeroventure, on the site of Doncaster’s wartime airbase, displays a collection of restored post-war aircraft and vehicles, including Gloster Meteors and Lightnings.