Thursday, 9 May 2013

Bobbins in Barnsley

At the Cudworth Local History and Heritage Group yesterday a respected member, GA, was listing some of the things Cudworth and Barnsley are well known for - and a few that are less well known.  Amongst them, bobbin making - does that mean anything to you? 

I found this explanation online in an article about women's work in South Yorkshire, "Bobbins are the core onto which thread is wound so that it can be woven into cloth. Many women worked in bobbin production at Beever Mill, Barnsley, which had a mixed workforce of 6-700. Women worked the machines shaping the bobbins and in the glue and press shop where metal ends were fitted to the bobbins."

Close up of a man's hands holding a short section of silver birch wood (with bark) in one hand and a finished bobbin in the other.
From wood to bobbin (from the BBC)
You can still see a bobbin mill working at Stott Park in Cumbria, which is an English Heritage property and the picture above of the contrast between unshaped wood and the finished wooden bobbin is from a BBC article about it. 

A wooden bobbin capped with metal at both ends
Steel banded bobbin (from Harbour

The completed bobbins, with metal capping at both ends are now apparently desirable articles for "candlesticks and silk flower holders".  The picture of the left is from an American website, the bobbin was selling for $14.50. 

Barnsley has been home to many other industries besides the coal mines that everyone associates with the area.

A map snip showing Beevor Works (Bobbins), Oakwell Brewery, two Malthouses by the canal and a Glass works at Hoyle Mill.
1906 map snip of the Beevor area of Barnsley (from Old Maps)
The Beevor and Hoyle Mill area of Barnsley was heavily industrialised in the 19th century.  In a snip from the 1906 map we can see a brewery, the bobbin works, two malthouses and a glassworks (actually two glass works - one on each side of the Dearne and Dove canal).  What is still now the Oakwell Brewery site was shared by Beevor Works, the bobbin mill.  The buildings in between were Beevor Hall Bleachworks, visible on the earliest Ordnance Survey map on the Old Maps site from 1852.

A map snip showing an older scene, just the bleachworks and the canal visible.
1852 map snip of the Beever Hall Bleachworks (from Old Maps)
In the 1852 map notice how a goit runs into the canal after passing through (or under a building) slightly separate from the rest of the bleachworks complex; a goit is usually a diverted channel from a river or stream used to power a water wheel.  The width of this sections suggests it may have been used for mooring barges as well.

Barnsley once had a thriving linen weaving industry and bobbins would have been used in that.  Beever (or possibly Beevor) Mill is long gone, along with all the textile mills in Barnsley, if you follow the link there is a map of their locations and you can click to find out more details. 

I started this post intending to write about an ancestor who made bobbins, but got side tracked.  It doesn't matter, it was interesting anyway.  I am now wondering what happened to all of Barnsley's thousands of bobbins though, if they are worth over £9 each to the Americans!

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