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Barnsley South, History

Historic Engine Ready to Mark a Special Year at Elsecar Colliery

  • 03/06/24

The world’s oldest steam engine still where originally built, in the heart of South Yorkshire, is ready to celebrate a special anniversary year thanks to local volunteers.

The Newcomen Beam Engine, the oldest steam engine in the world still in its original location, is ready to welcome visitors again after a winter break. The engine, a Scheduled Ancient Monument of international significance, is found at Elsecar New Colliery, South Yorkshire.

The colliery was sunk in 1794, making this year the 230th anniversary of its sinking. The colliery went into operation and its beam engine was built the following year, in 1795. It was a vital component of the new industrial village carefully designed and built for the Earls Fitzwilliam of Wentworth Woodhouse.

It operated until 1923 and is a remarkable example of the early industrial revolution and the development of steam power.

Famous carmaker Henry Ford twice tried to purchase the engine to take it back to America but was refused by Earl Fitzwilliam.
It was rescued and restored back to working order in 2014 by Barnsley Museums who offer fascinating tours of this spectacular feat of engineering.

The engine has been kept in excellent condition over the winter months by dedicated volunteers, who have worked hard to maintain the precious machinery. Their skill and expertise makes not only the tours, but also the preservation of the engine, possible.

The tours, which last about an hour, begin again on Sunday 28 April, at 1pm and 2pm, and give an in-depth insight into its history and working. Visitors will be able to see the engine in action and learn about its history and significance.

The cost of the tour is £6 per person and all the money goes to support the work of Barnsley Museums.

Jon Finch, Head of Culture and Visitor Economy said:  "We are very proud to be the home of the world-renowned Newcomen Beam Engine here at Elsecar. It is a remarkable piece of engineering that tells the story of Elsecar's industrial heritage and its role in the industrial revolution. The tours are a great opportunity to see this unique machine in action and learn more about its history and significance from our expert guides. This combined with Elsecar's wider offer of independent shops, cafes, beer tap, antiques centre and outstanding children’s play area makes it the perfect trip out.”


Booking is essential as places are limited. To book call 01226 740203 or email


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