On a lovely but fresh 18th September morning, 31 eager history buffs arrived at Tescos car park at 8.15 am and were greeted by Brian Ward to catch the coach to Elsecar Heritage Site in South Yorkshire. After an easy journey we arrived at the site and were split into two groups, one to take a trip on a diesel-hauled GWR brake van about a mile down the Elsecar Railway track, the other to be shown the Newcomen beam engine in operation, which has been operating since 1795. The two groups then swapped over so that everyone had both experiences.
We then had time to have lunch in one of the various meal facilities and afterwards look around the workshops on the heritage site, and the retail outlets and antique emporium within the site. This is a fascinating site with lots to do.
We then returned to the coach to be taken the short distance to nearby Wentworth
Woodhouse, the home of the Fitzwilliam family who were responsible for the
development of the village, the coal mine and iron works on the Elsecar site.
We were given an hours’ tour of the extensive gardens, including various monuments and a Camellia House holding some of the first Camellias introduced into Great Britain, and then after a quick tea/coffee break back in the house cafe, and an introductory talk on the history of the house a second tour of about an hour around the house showing the fabulous ceilings and plaster work around the walls and fireplaces, and some of the remaining paintings that were not sold by the various families to pay death duties. The house is encased in masses of scaffolding as the roofs are all being renovated, water damage to some of the ceilings can be seen. The house has only been taken over by the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust in the last two years, so a lot of work still needs to be done to restore it to its greatness. The guide was very knowledgeable and gave a very interesting tour.
After completing the house tour at about 5:15 pm it was back on the coach for an easy 90 minute ride home.
Many thanks to Brian for arranging this visit, this is effectively the last one he will host before stepping down as Visits Coordinator at the AGM, so unless someone steps up next year to take over the role, we will not see any more fascinating visits like this. Brian will be sorely missed.