Barnsley Museums & Heritage Trust: Acquiring objects and sharing stories

Barnsley Museums and Heritage Trust (BMHT) is a Registered Charity set up in 2015 to help preserve, enhance and champion Barnsley’s heritage for the future. We raise funds to support the work of Barnsley Museums and their free to enter heritage sites.

In this blog, Gillian Thorpe (Fundraiser and Administrator) tells us more about the work of the Trust.

Working for BMHT is a fascinating job as there are so many aspects to the role. We raise funds to support many activities undertaken by Barnsley Museums. One of the ways we help is by providing funds for the conservation of items in the collection, and for the acquisition of new items of local interest. These items are often discovered for sale at auction by the museums staff, which can lead to a very tense but exciting few hours before we find out if our bid was successful.

Here are some of the items that have been acquired for the museum collection with the help of the Trust.    

Barnsley Township Maps

A volume of fifteen rare hand drawn Barnsley maps dating back to 1800. The maps are based on the Barnsley Enclosure map of 1779 and include details of changes to the town in the years following. Recognisable street names like Westgate, Market Hill and Cheapside are featured, as well as a few which have long since disappeared such as Jumble Lane and Back Lane Road. The maps also feature individual buildings, landmarks and footpaths and were drawn by local linen manufacturer and landowner Francis Kendray (1774-1840), after whom Kendray Hospital and subsequently the Kendray estate were named. His grand residence was situated between May Day Green and Eldon Street, close to where the Lightbox and Barnsley Market are situated today. The Kendray family donated vast sums to the town back in the 19th century.

You can see more of these plans and search the Barnsley Archives online catalogue here:

A pair of early 20th Century CEAG Barnsley Miners Lamps

In 1912, local firm CEAG won a Home Office competition to design a safety lamp with the judges describing their electric lamp as the ‘safest in the world!’ The lamps beat international competition from over 200 lamps and the company were awarded £600 in prize money.

Until the invention of safety lamps, mines were lit by naked flames, resulting in frequent explosions as flammable and explosive coal dust and gases were ignited. Testing for firedamp and other dangerous gases also involved a naked flame, when a candle was held at arm’s length at floor level and slowly raised by the ‘firemen.’ If the flame turned bluish grey as it rose, then firedamp was present and was deliberately set on fire at the end of a shift to clear it. As you can imagine, despite protective clothing, this did not always end well for the firemen.

Early attempts at safety lamps included the use of dried fish skins and bottles containing fireflies.

Safety lamps needed to provide light and not trigger explosions, but also to warn of dangerous atmospheres. Perhaps the most famous lamp was invented by Sir Humphry Davy in 1815, and it is a sign of how important safety lamps were in preventing mining disasters, that the Home Office were holding a competition almost 100 years later to improve the device even further.

A 1930’s Art Deco engagement ring from Benjamin Harral jewellers

In its original box form the iconic and much-loved Benjamin Harral jewellers of Eldon Street, Barnsley.

The jewellers were most famously known for giving out a complimentary bread knife to those who bought an engagement or wedding ring.

Founded in 1898, the shop was family-run for almost 100 years and had other branches in Pontefract and Mexborough.

The shop also sold grandfather clocks, silver and pottery and the large clock which sat above the premises remains today- although it no longer keeps time.

Read more about the Eldon Street High Street Heritage Action Zone:

Wombwell Post Office Stamp

This stamp dates from the mid 20th Century and was used to stamp the date on letters and which postal branch the mail had gone through – in this case, Wombwell.

We don’t know much more than that about this object, so the museum’s social history curator hopes to conduct some research. There might even be someone reading this who worked there and remembers it!?

 As this is quite a robust item, it is destined for the museum’s handling collection. I can’t wait to have a go, I used to love playing at Post Offices. 

Pupil Teachers Book

The Pupil Teachers’ Centre was situated on Beckett Street in Barnsley and trained teachers from school boards in Barnsley, Wombwell, Ardsley, Worsbrough, Darton and Mapplewell, Monk Bretton, Shafton and Thurlstone.

The book was meticulously compiled by Mary Ellen (Nellie) Spencer of Barnsley whilst she was a pupil at the centre and, was accompanied by an Edwardian photograph of her. She went on to become a teacher and married George Jackson of Elsecar. She died in 1941.

The book and photograph are fabulous additions to our education collections and will undoubtedly be popular with researchers in the future.

See this collection and search 1000s more via the online catalogue

Trowel Used to lay the Foundation Stone at Hoyland Common Co-Operative Society

The trowel was presented to Mr G Kay, Secretary of the Barnsley Co-Operative Society on the occasion of his laying the foundation stone of their Hoyland Common branch on 14th July 1884.  The trowel also came with 2 photographs, one a group portrait of employees and the other depicting the interior of the new central offices in 1941.

The Co-Operative movement is at the centre of Barnsley’s socio-economic history and the commemorative trowel and previously unseen photographs is a fantastic addition to Barnsley’s collections.

Learn more about the Barnsley British Co-operative Society in this online exhibition

20th Century Art Deco Clock by Krakauer of Barnsley

The Krakauer family emigrated to from Germany and an article from an 1896 Barnsley Chronicle mentions that Solomon Krakauer rented a jewellery shop at 9 Cheapside from 1887 to 1896. He subsequently moved premises to 3 Church Street and finally to Market Hill where he operated from 1923 to 1933.

Krakauer goods were highly prized and clocks and silver with the ‘Krakauer of Barnsley’ imprint are still found today at Yorkshire auctions, which is how we were able to obtain this piece.

Adding this clock to the collection supports the expanding research on the history of the Krakauer family and wider Jewish history in the Borough. 

We love being able to add items to the collection that help tell the story of Barnsley and surrounding areas. If you would like to help us do more, please visit to donate.

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