A partnership created by the councils of Barnsley and Rotherham has won a grant of £1.2 million, to deliver activities focused on the rich heritage stories of the villages of Elsecar and Wentworth.
The funding has been sourced from the Great Place Scheme, a pilot project, which has two main aims.
The first is to ensure that the considerable investment in culture made by organisations like the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Arts Council England has the maximum positive impact on jobs, economic performance, educational attainment, community cohesion and health and wellbeing.
Secondly, it is to help ambitious civic organisations, local businesses and communities invest in culture and put it at the heart of their thinking.
The money received from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England and Historic England, will be critical in achieving the objectives of the Partnership.
These have been inspired by the ambitions of the two places to be recognised for their great potential as major visitor destinations and by the need to drive social change inspired by Child Poverty Report by Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis.
A statement on Barnsley Council’s website reads: “The project hopes to raise the aspirations of young people in the local area and help them achieve their potential using new, innovative channels of engagement.
“The funding will deliver a range of exciting cultural activity, inspired by the rich history linked to the fascinating Wentworth Woodhouse and Earl Fitzwilliam’s industrial empire at Elsecar.
“Through their combined efforts, capacity building and skill sharing, the Partnership will create a child focused programme tackling critical issues facing the Boroughs, such as educational attainment and health and well-being.
“This will be achieved in a variety of ways such as events, cultural activities and creating opportunities for economic growth.
By bringing local communities together in this way there will be an increased sense of identity and belonging which the collaborating organisations hope will reignite pride and ambition.
“This programme will not only benefit the people from Elsecar and Wentworth localities but from all across Barnsley and Rotherham.”
Elsecar village was transformed in the 1700s by the Earls Fitzwilliam into a thriving centre of iron and coal, which was often visited by aristocrats and royalty.
For 150 years it was the industrial estate village of Wentworth Woodhouse just a mile away, and was developed by the Marquis of Rockingham and Earls Fitzwilliam into a model village.
Wentworth Woodhouse, situated on the border of Rotherham and Barnsley, is a Grade I listed country house in South Yorkshire, with the longest façade of any country house in England.
It was built for the 1st Marquess of Rockingham from c.1735, the work continuing over four decades, and then passed to the Fitzwilliam family.
During World War II the mansion was taken over for use by Military Intelligence and after 1945 the onset of open cast coal mining in the garden and park made it impossible for the family to return.
Cllr Miller, Barnsley Council’s Cabinet Spokesperson for Place said: “We would once again like to thank the Heritage Lottery fund for their continued support.
“We are especially excited about this project, as, through joint working with Rotherham Council and engagement with local communities, we can provide a valuable and varied programme which will improve the quality of life for young people in the area.
“It is also a great opportunity to put Elsecar and Wentworth on the map as great visitor destinations.”
Cllr Yasseen, Rotherham Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture and Neighbourhoods, said: “This is a real testament to Rotherham Council’s renewed focus on culture, creating a new department and leadership role for culture, sport and tourism.
“The investment demonstrates that external funders and partners understand the significance of Rotherham’s important heritage and culture to the borough and to the nation.
“This exciting project will create many new opportunities for local people, particularly young people, to participate in the arts and in a host of high quality creative activities. Local people can look forward to new events and new opportunities to experience our astonishing heritage”.
Sharon Gill, Chief Executive of Rotherham Open Arts Renaissance (ROAR), and a partner in the project, said: “The team at ROAR are thrilled with the success of this bid and what it means for the communities around Elsecar and Wentworth, and are looking forward to exploring new ways of working with heritage services and our neighbours in Barnsley in the creative and cultural provision for young people and their families.”
Sarah Maxfield, Area Director North, Arts Council England, said: “The Great Place Scheme intends to put culture at the heart of local communities. The National Lottery funding we are investing through this scheme in towns, cities and rural areas across the North will bring both economic and social benefits.”
Ros Kerslake, HLF Chief Executive said: “The Great Place Scheme is something new and really quite radical. The aim is to bring together National Lottery investment and local ambition, to make a difference to people across entire communities.
“It’s a bold plan and I am looking forward to seeing some innovative and exciting results from this pilot project.”