PMSA National Recording Project - South Yorkshire

Barnsley Metropolitan Borough

We are carrying out research on the pieces on these pages.
If you have further information or revisions to the material above please contact me, Dave Ball, by e-mail or telephone: 0114 225 6213 with the details.
We would also like to hear from you with details of any sculptures or monuments which we may have missed.
We are very grateful for any additional information which you may be able to give us.

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ArtistMaker: WHITWORTH, John ?
TitleOfWork: obelisk (now removed)
DateOfCreation: 1819
Medium: stone
Location: At the junction between Huddersfield Road, Church Street and Old Mill Lane. (SE434407)
AtoZReference: p.13 5G
Postcode: S70
Street: Church Street
TownOrVillage: Barnsley
AreaInTown: Town Centre
MetropolitanBorough: Barnsley
Photographer: not photographed
AccessionNumber: na~1.gif
Location: At the junction between Huddersfield Road, Church Street and Old Mill Lane, Barnsley Town Centre. It was sited closer to the pavement on the Old Mill Lane side.

Description: A plain obelisk mounted on a pedestal. Gas lights were attached to the base of the column at a later date and at one time it had seating around it. Directions to different parts of the town were painted upon it.
Described in the Barnsley Annual as "..not a very imposing structure, (it) has yet something very distinctive about it, and its removal would leave a "gap" for a long time in the eyes of old residents in the town" [1]

Commission: The obelisk was erected in the garden of Folly Hall at the top of Old Mill Lane by the resident, William Cooke Mence. It was apparantly built as aid to travellers arriving in Barnsley, who regularly asked at the house for directions to the various parts of the town. Part of the garden was removed when the street was widened and the Obelisk found itself in the middle of the street. [2]

Comment: In 1845 the obelisk was sold to the Commissioners appointed under the Barnsley Improvement Act of 1822 for ten pounds and ten shillings. Gas-lights were fixed to the corners at this time.
Attempts to remove the obelisk began in 1868 when the then-resident of Folly Hall objected to bill posting on it. Motions for its removal in order to facilitate traffic movement were recorded in the Town Council minutes on many occasions; including February 1876, 21st December 1886, April 1895, and 14th Sept, 1915 [3]. The Council meeting on 10th February 1931 the obelisk's fate was sealed when a motion for its removal was passed. Although a subsequent meeting on 14th July reconsidered this, the decision was not altered and was published four days later in the Barnsley Chronicle. The obelisk was finally removed on 23-24th September 1931 after a good deal of controversy both within the council and in the local press. A meeting for local people to discuss the planned removal was arranged for 31st August, but postponed. The destruction of the obelisk went ahead before the meeting was reconvened. Needless to say, this gave rise to considerable debate and acrimony. [4]
The architect appointed in 1822 by the Barnsley Improvement Act Commissioners was John Whitworth (died 1863 aged 83). He has been credited with the design of the obelisk, but there is no evidence to support this theory. Whitworth and Mence were certainly colleagues and both active in the Wesleyan Movement in the town.

References: [1] The Barnsley Annual p.15
[2] Alliott, Gerald J. 'The Vanishing Relics of Barnsley', Wharncliffe Publishing, 1996. p.89-96
[3] "Occurances and Events of Interest in Barnsley and District, 1229 - 1922"
[4] Alliott, G.J. ibid

Questions: When, and by whom, was this structure erected?.
When was it removed?
We would like to include an image of the obelisk in our archives.

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Last updated December 21, 2011