Prehistoric and Romano-British activity in the Worsbrough area is indicated by field systems, tracks and settlements visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs. Early medieval activity in the area is indicated by place-name evidence. Recorded as ‘Wircesburg’ in the 1086 Domesday survey, Worsbrough derives its name from an assumed Old English personal name, ‘Wirc’, and the Old English ‘burh’, meaning a fortified settlement (Smith 1961). The site of the fortified area is unclear.
Following the Norman Conquest, Worsbrough was granted to Ilbert de Laci, the lord of Pontefract. A mill that was recorded at Worsbrough in the 11th century appears to have remained active into the early post-medieval period, when it was rebuilt as Worsbrough Corn Mill. St. Mary’s Church was founded in the 12th century and medieval elements survive within the present-day building.
Elements of several medieval and early post-medieval buildings survive also within the fabric of later secular structures, including timber-framed buildings at Elmhirst Farm. The vicarage and a school were built at Worsbrough in the 16th century. A range of early post-medieval high status buildings remain extant in the area, including Darley Cliffe Hall and Worsbrough Hall. The estate of the latter was emparked during the early post-medieval period.
Settlement appears to have been relatively dispersed around the Worsbrough district before becoming concentrated in the valley at Worsbrough Bridge following the opening of the Dearne and Dove Canal and the Worsbrough canal basin in 1804. While bell pits indicate that shallow coal and ironstone mining took place at Worsbrough during the late medieval and early post-medieval periods, deep coal mining dominated the area from the mid-19th century. Among the collieries that were worked at Worsbrough were the Park Colliery, Martin’s Main Colliery, Darley Main, Bell Ing Colliery and Barrow Colliery. The latter closed in 1986.
Other local industries included Wood Brothers Glass Works, Worsbrough Mill, the Dearne & Dove Steel Works, Worsbrough Furnace and the Dearne & Dove Saw Mills. The South Yorkshire Railway opened at Worsbrough in 1854. The canal basin closed in 1906.
Locations in the Dearne
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