Barnsley Museums has announced that funding options are being explored for a £25m development at the former site of the Elsecar Ironworks in South Yorkshire.

A new heritage railway, new rail college and outdoor events area are planned at the historic site, now a scheduled ancient monument , as a legacy project of its Heritage Action Zone partnership with Historic England.

The planned heritage railway destination is set to include a reconstructed 1849 Fitzwilliam locomotive, powered by sustainable fuels, a new rail college and rail technology test track to be accessed by more than 400 students per year, engineering workshops, and a new ‘Cultural Canteen’ and outdoor events and performance area.

The site sits on the east side of the Elsecar Heritage Centre and its major indoor events space, which itself is being refurbished over the next year after funding was secured from the DCMS Cultural Development Fund, administered by Arts Council England.

Art Fund – Going Places – Oct 2023
The Casting Shed, a ‘cultural canteen’ created in the Grade II listed ironworks casting shed (Concept and Visual Wignall & Moore)

Barnsley Museums said the design of the new buildings for the ironworks site have been closely inspired by the Victorian furnace sheds which originally stood there. They will replace a replica station newly built in the 1990s.

A series of consultation events and tours for local residents are planned for 2024.

The new development would “transform the impact Elsecar can have for Barnsley and South Yorkshire communities and mean the village further becoming a national visitor destination”, said Barnsley Museums.

Cllr Sir Stephen Houghton CBE Leader, Barnsley Council said, “We’re determined to transform this remarkable historic site, previously the home of Elsecar Heritage Railway, into something which is unique, sustainable, and will thrive long into the future.

“The redevelopment of the Ironworks site and heritage railway will not happen straight away. We need to secure funding and it will take time to deliver, but this vision is the starting point for something very special for Elsecar.”

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