Hoylandswaine Village on the way out of Barnsley
Hoylandswaine village is an interesting place in a number of respects and expresses the spirit of many other villages of the Pennine foothills of South Yorkshire very well.
Hoylandswaine is surrounded by attractive countryside, it clings to a hillside close to 900 feet above sea level and is steeped in family and early agricultural and industrial history.
Recognised as an attractive place to live with good access to local places of employment and schools it has also seen a quite dramatic increase in housing in recent years. Barnsley and the M1 motorway can be reached very easily along the Silkstone by-pass and the old market town of Penistone is not far away down the hill to the West of the village. Huddersfield and Sheffield can be reached relatively easily either way on the A629.
The casual passer-by may find it difficult to get a grip on Hoylandswaine. Entering the village from the A628 the traveller passes either the Lord Nelson or the Rose and Crown – a good start you may say as the village has two pubs – both supplying good food as well as good beer. Either way in you will be not far away from the Bowling Green and the Cricket and Social Club (another place for a drink). However lest you think that this looks like a village for inebriates, the Methodist Chapel is close by! As you would expect, most of the older houses in the village are close to the main street, Haigh Lane or on one side of Cooper Lane which runs between the A628 and South Lane – a few hundred yards below the school. Many, but not all of the newer houses and earlier bungalows are to the west of the main street, some of them on higher more exposed ground than the old village. The parish church and the school appear to be almost outside the village as it is presently constituted until we remember that the early settlement pattern was rather dispersed, especially when outlying farms and cottages are included. So, two pubs, two places of worship, a village hall and an infant/junior school – but since a recent closure, no shop. This in itself is perhaps a reflection of the fact that the vast majority of Hoylandswaine dwellers go outside the village almost every day – for their work, shopping and at least some of their recreation and entertainment. It was not always like this.
Hoylandswaine is an old settlement. There is a reference to Holande in the Doomsday Book of 1086 and to Holandeswayn as early as the mid 13th Century. Holande or Hoyland as it became is an Old English word, denoting ‘cultivated land on or near a hill-spur’. Swaine (or swein) is of Saxon origin with the family of Swein being of considerable power and influence at the time of the Norman Conquest. Important as this early history is, it is to more recent times that we must look in order to place the present day village into context. In common with many other settlements in this part of South Yorkshire, Hoylandswaine has a recent history that places it in the heart of the iron working and coal mining activities of the area with cottage-based weaving thrown in for good measure – all against the backdrop of a long established agricultural economy.
Weaving of linen cloth is the earliest of the cottage-based non-agricultural activities of the village and there is early evidence of such work in the late 17th century. It is not clear whether local flax was produced – although this is possible – but there is considerable evidence of out-workers being later supplied with materials from Barnsley. Weaving was a home-based occupation that could be combined with home-making and bringing up the large families that were common at the time. Eventually the occupation died away in the face of the industrial revolution shifting weaving elsewhere in large scale factory production. Two weaver’s cottages in Cooper Lane were demolished almost 50 years ago and parts of the remaining and evocatively named Nippin Row were allegedly built as weaving premises.
Although it is difficult to establish exactly when nail-making began in Hoylandswaine it was certainly a well-established feature of iron working in the area as early as the middle of the 17th Century. There is documentary evidence of iron rods being transported to the village from Wortley Forge in the early 1700’s. Sometimes combined with small scale agricultural or livestock keeping activities, nail-making developed into an important if lowly rewarded occupation. In 1806 the Militia list for the village indicated that almost a quarter of those between 18 and 40 on the list gave their occupation as nail-makers. Increased competition from imported and later home-produced machine-made nails reduced cottage nail-making throughout the area but in Hoylandswaine no less than 13% of the overall population, men, women and children still gave nail-making as their occupation in 1851. This was the peak of the activity as only 25 were listed in the 1881 Census and in a diminishing population only 8 nail-makers were left in 1891. Well before that time the growth of the Steel Works (later Cammell Laird) in Penistone presented new employment opportunities on a regular waged basis.
Most but not all of the 20 or more nail-shops scattered around the village have now been pulled down but three shops where nail-makers worked side by side on Mustard Hill remain. One of the forges remains complete with hearth, bellows and anvil much as it was in the 1940’s when it was last used. Thankfully this has been taken under the care of the South Yorkshire Industrial History Society and it may not be long before a restored ‘shop’ can be opened for all to see.
Cynthia Dillon, leader of the Hoylandswaine History Group – who is hereby duly acknowledged for her invaluable assistance with this article – collated and compiled a fascinating and detailed booklet, The Nail Makers of Hoylandswaine. Together with Rob Melton and other members of the Group she has also recently produced a booklet on the Industries and Inhabitants of Cooper Lane and (with Susan Bashforth) ‘Our Village Churches’. Work is on hand to produce a comprehensive local history of the village and nearby settlements and in the meantime the Group has recently produced a further booklet entitled ‘And So Much More’ – and there clearly is.
As in so many parts of the South Yorkshire Coalfield, coal was dug from shallow pits and drifts from the very early 1800’s and almost certainly earlier. By the middle of the century a number of families had been involved for some years, working the shallow outcrops of Guider (or Guyder) Bottom. Others were mining elsewhere in small operations so much so that by 1861, as many as 66 miners were listed in the Census. There are a number of sites of shallow workings and ‘day holes’ (worked as one shift during daylight hours) in and around the village – some of them in operation until late in the19th century. In the 1930’s a local farmer William Marsh, (in a very early example of diversification) began mining at the bottom of Cooper Lane, forming the Guyder Bottom Mining Company. This mined the Whinmoor Seam and employed about 30 men at the peak of operations when it produced about 12,000 tons of coal a year. By the late 1960’s the mine was to all intents and purposes worked out as a geological fault broke up the main seam and it closed in October 1969.
The agricultural surroundings of the village are made up in the main part of gently rolling countryside suitable for both livestock and arable enterprises. As is the case throughout the country, land from smaller farms has been amalgamated with adjacent properties and one time farm houses have become highly prized and usually highly priced dwellings. A number of farm businesses close to the village have developed small farm shops selling eggs, and potatoes and vegetables in season whereas others have diversified in other ways. Hattersleys Printers is a good example of a local rural based business not at all directly connected with agriculture. Greenbottom Farm no longer has much land attached to it but as the article later in this magazine shows, it has recently become the base for a thriving rural business. Not far out of the village is Cliffe Kennels and Cattery and Churchfield Veterinary Centre has an extremely modern Equine Treatment Unit.
The old style of long established farming families is best reflected in the older farm houses and buildings. High Lee Farm, beautifully situated looking down towards Penistone is said to be the site of an old manor house dating back to the early part of the 12th century. Kidfield Farm dates back into the mid 17th Century with a farm house that stands as a fine example of the functional yet beautifully proportioned domestic architecture of the time. It is farmed by John Hill, who manages to combine the good husbandry of his forebears with the highest levels of accomplishment as a ploughman – see separate article. Very much within the old village itself is Pinfold Farm with its small cruck barn – soon to developed into a housing but dating back at least 350 years. The imposing one time farm house Cat Hill Hall – formerly simply known as Cat Hill – a mile or two from the village, also dates back to the 16th century.
Of the two existing places of worship, the Methodist Chapel has the right to first place on the grounds of its age. Opened in 1807, and in continuous use ever since, it is the oldest Methodist Church in the Barnsley Circuit. Cynthia Dillon, writing of a time when Methodism was strong in the village tells of the old weaver James Mellor, born in 1812 who was also chapel preceptor; that is responsible for leading the singing before the first organ (actually a harmonium) was installed. The present organ complete with electric blower, was installed in 1948 and is still giving good service. Equally good and even more remarkable service has been provided by Stuart Helliwell, organist since 1950. The Sunday School was built in 1814 and soon became an important component of community life providing not only religious but also general education in the early days. As congregations dwindled it was sold to the village in 1982 and converted into the village hall.
St John the Evangelist Anglican Church is a new church when compared to neighbouring Cawthorne or Silkstone, as it was consecrated only in 1869. The land on which the church and vicarage were built was the gift of the Spencer Stanhopes of Cannon Hall Cawthorne. Members of the Stanhope family took an active interest in the establishment of the church and were generous in providing funds for its construction and in encouraging other local landowners to provide support. The beautiful but large vicarage became too much of a financial burden and was sold in 1970 and in 1985 a new benefice of Hoylandswaine and Silkstone with Stainborough was created. The current vicar Simon Moor, lives an extremely busy life with responsibility for two parishes as well as a young family. He stresses the continuing role of the church within the community but does not see it in isolation from other social activities in the village. He pops in to the local pub when he has time for a pint at weekends – something that would almost certainly not have been done when the first incumbent was installed under the watchful eye of the Vicar of Cawthorne – who just happened to be called Charles Spencer Stanhope! Simon somehow also finds time for bell ringing on occasion and St John’s has a good ring of six dedicated in 1892. Encouraged by Stan Bellamy and with occasional help from members of nearby towers, the old bells are rung as often as possible.
Simon Moor draws attention to the importance of the school to the village. As in many other similar communities, first friendships are firmly forged at relatively small village schools. In the case of Hoylandswaine it would certainly appear to have helped in the assimilation of the many newcomers to the village in recent years. Hoylandswaine Infant/Junior School is proud of its good standing in the now so important league tables just as it can look back with some satisfaction on generations of scholars who have gone on to live fulfilling and productive lives – some far away from the village – and some still giving support from near at hand. A ‘walking bus’ scheme was recently introduced with the encouragement of the head teacher and staff and the support of Barnsley Council. Parents take it in turns to walk groups of their children safely to and from school each day, picking up and dropping them off at their own homes. A simple scheme but one that helps to improve the health and safety of children and in its own way fosters the essential community spirit which in days gone by was more easily maintained.
There is much else of course – but little space to write it. Yes, Hoylandswaine is a mixture of the old and new. As in similar villages where there has been a large influx of new comers in recent years there is probably a need to pay attention to the social cement that binds us together – always assuming that we want that of course. But, this piece should perhaps end as it began. Two pubs, a hundred year old cricket team, a relatively new good quality bowling green, a village hall, a fine church and an old chapel and a good school. Not bad for a start – and of course lots of history as well as new initiatives. Now, will someone please take the plunge and open a shop again?
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