History – Worsbrough Mill
The first record of a mill at Worsbrough was in the Domesday book of 1086, although the exact location of the mill along the River Dove is unknown.
The oldest part of the mill standing today dates from about 1625 and forms the two storey stone building known as the Old Mill, which houses the waterwheel. Before the Mill House was built in the mid 18th century the miller and his family would have lived in the mill itself. There are large fireplaces on both the ground and first floors and the lintel over the fireplace on the first floor is inscribed with several dates and initials of the millers.
The Old Mill was probably modernised in the early 1820’s to improve its output, and in the 1840’s the New Mill was built next door. The machinery in the New Mill was powered by a steam engine and a third floor, where grain could be stored in bulk, was added.
Trade for corn and flour began to drop off towards the end of the 19th century as cheap imported wheat came in from abroad. By the early 20th century Worsbrough’s New Mill became disused and the steam engine was scrapped. The old water mill continued to grind corn and oats for the local farmers to feed their animals well into the 1960’s.
In 1972 West Riding County Council began to restore the mill as a working museum. The steam engine had been scrapped in 1922 so a rare 1911 Hornsby hot-bulb oil engine, formerly from Sykehouse Windmill was rebuilt in the engine room.
A reorganisation in local government in 1974 meant that South Yorkshire County Council took over the project. The museum opened to the general public in 1976. It is now owned and operated by Barnsley Council.
History – Country Park
The reservoir, completed in 1804, was originally built to supply water to the Worsbrough branch of the Dearne and Dove canal. It was enlarged in 1826, creating an extra 20 acres of surface water and two new spillways were installed in 1984 to comply with the Reservoirs Safety Act.
The Worsbrough section of the Dearne and Dove Canal was authorised in 1793 and took 11 years to build. It linked Worsbrough to the seaport of Goole. The new section was 2.5 miles long and included flight of seven locks at Aldham, where it joined the Barnsley to Swinton Canal.
In 1810 over 2000 boats used the canal to carry goods to and from the man industries that sprang up alongside it. In 1884 the canal was affected by mining subsidence and closed for 6 months for repairs. Due to subsidence and the arrival of the railways it was closed to traffic in 1906 and abandoned in 1961.
A section of the canal that still remains can be seen across the road from the main car park.
After the canal was opened in 1804 landowners were authorised to construct railways to the local colleries. The tramway which runs at the side of the mill, up the south side of the reservoir was probably opened in 1821 to serve Stoney Royd, Ratten Row and Top Pit. In 1832 it also carried coal and iron from Pilley Hills Colliery and Ironstone Works.
Several stone blocks can still be seen in the path. These blocks housed chairs in which the cast iron rails ran. The trucks that ran on this tramway were pulled by ponies and stationary engines worked the inclines. Ponies were stabled in the buildings in the mill yard and the mill supplied oats for their feed.