Elsecar is a village forming part of the Metropolitan Borough of Barnsley in South Yorkshire, England. Like many villages in the area, it was for many years a coal mining village until the widespread pit closures during the 1980s. Elsecar is near the town of Hoyland and the villages of Jump and Wentworth.
Elsecar is unique as a name: the origins are not entirely clear. Else or Elsi was the name of a local Saxon lord who owned land in the area. It is also the Saxon name for a marsh that may have existed in the bottom valley.
Elsecar was nothing more than a series of farms up until the 18th century. Although coal had been mined in the area since the 14th century the first colliery, Elsecar Old, did not open until 1750. The first proper mine shaft was sunk in 1795 at Elsecar New Colliery. The village was formed to take advantage of the coal resources in the area. Many of the new buildings were built by the Earl Fitzwilliam, who resided in nearby Wentworth Woodhouse, to house their workers. By the end of the century several pits were opened.
Two independent iron forge were opened at the turn of the 19th century; these also came under the ownership of the Fitzwilliam family after their respective companies collapsed. There was also a distillery which opened in 1814; however this only lasted four years. Two smaller family run forges were also established in the mid 19th century and they survived well into the 20th century. The two main forges were closed by the end of the century.
The last colliery to open was Elsecar Main in 1908: It was also the last to close in 1983. In 1988 the last pit in the area, Cortonwood, also closed. Elsecar Workshops were sold off by British Coal the following year, ending the village's ties to the coal industry. The village suffered from similar economic problems to all the mining villages in the region. There are still outstanding applications for mining parts of the village but these are unlikely to be acted upon.
In 1910 a local amateur photographer, Herbert Parkin, took some photographs of the local reservoir and surrounding areas and sent them into the Sheffield Star under the caption Elsecar-by-the-Sea. The name caught on and with the help of good transports link from Sheffield via the local railway station a thriving tourism business was established. The Hoyland council decided to create the public park to take advantage of the influx. The name is still jokingly used by some locals and to advertise events around the reservoir.