Barnsley is a town in South Yorkshire, England. Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, it lies on the River Dearne, north of the city of Sheffield, south of Leeds and west of Doncaster. Barnsley is surrounded by several smaller settlements which together form the Metropolitan Borough of Barnsley, of which Barnsley is the largest and the administrative centre. The metropolitan borough had a population of 231,900 at the 2011 UK Census; Barnsley urban Area had a population of 71,599 (2001census) .
Barnsley is notable as a former industrial town centred on coal mining and glassmaking although in the town few factories remain, notably the glassworks and coking plant. Though these industries declined in the 20th century, Barnsley's local culture remains rooted in this industrial heritage; Barnsley has a tradition of brass bands, originally created as social clubs for its mining communities.
The following villages are considered to be parts of Barnsley: Pogmoor, Gawber, Mapplewell, and Wilthorpe.
The first reference to Barnsley occurs in 1086 in the Domesday Book, in which it is called 'Berneslai' and has a population of around 200. The origin of the name Barnsley is subject to debate, but Barnsley Council claims that its origins lie in the Saxon word "Berne", for barn or storehouse, and "Lay, for field.
The town lay in the parish of Silkstone and developed little until in the 1150s when it was given to the monastery of St John, Pontefract. The monks built a new town where three roads met: the Sheffield to Wakefield, Rotherham to Huddersfield and Cheshire to Doncaster routes. The Domesday village became known as "Old Barnsley", and a town grew up on the new site.
The monks erected a chapel-of-ease dedicated to Saint Mary, which survived until 1820 , and established a market. In 1249, a Royal Charter was granted to Barnsley permitting it to hold a weekly market on Wednesdays and annual four-day fair at Michaelmas. By the 1290s, three annual fairs were held. The town was the centre of the Staincross wapentake, but in the mid-16th century had only 600 inhabitants.
From the 17th century, Barnsley developed into a stop-off point on the route between Leeds, Wakefield, Sheffield and London. The traffic generated as a result of its location fuelled trade, with hostelries and related services prospering. A principal centre for linen weaving during the 18th and 19th century, Barnsley grew into an important manufacturing town. Barnsley has a long tradition of glass-making, but is most famous for its coal mines. George Orwell mentioned the town in The Road to Wigan Pier. He spent a number of days in the town living in the houses of the working class miners while researching for the book. He wrote very critically of the council's expenditure on the construction of Barnsley Town Hall and claimed that the money should have been spent on improving the housing and living conditions of the local miners.
Barnsley became a municipal borough in 1869 and achieved county borough status in 1913. In the first half of the 19th century and before, it was a town in the ecclesiastical parish of Silkstone and located in the wapentake of Staincross.