Building Barnsley’s history brick by brick

Experience Barnsley Museum and Discovery Centre will be opening its new exhibition the Barnsley Brick Project on Saturday 28 July.

Over 150 years ago Barnsley had many brickworks that helped to construct the town’s buildings. Each local brickworks stamped their name or the name of the village where they were made into the brick. In this unique and fascinating exhibition which has been generously supported by Arts Council England ,  internationally renowned and Barnsley born artist Patrick Murphy explores Barnsley’s brick industry.

The Barnsley Brick Project looks at the history of brick production from its initial beginnings, right up to the present day and reveals insights into contemporary brick manufacture in the area. The exhibition features a selection of bricks made all over Barnsley including Monckton Colliery, Stairfoot and Pogmoor. The ‘experimental’ Athersley Estate and manufacturing at Carlton Bricks are also featured within the show.

To celebrate the launch of the exhibition, Experience Barnsley will be holding The Big Barnsley Lego Build. Lego aficionado’s Bricks4Kids will be taking over the museum on Saturday 28 July, 1.30pm to 3.30pm and holding a fun interactive two-hour workshop to build a model town of Barnsley made entirely from Lego.

The Big Barnsley Lego Build will kick start Experience Barnsley’s programme of family-friendly summer activities. Free Lego challenges will take place every Monday to Wednesday, each week of the school holidays. A printmaking workshop on Wednesday 1 August and Design a Tote Bag session on Tuesday 7 August will both be experimenting with repeat pattern and brick formations.

 The Barnsley Brick Project will also feature a body of new work produced by Patrick Murphy and local communities focusing on a collection of contemporary ‘art’ bricks. The new bricks will feature words, phrases and drawings that explore 21st century Barnsley. To help create this installation Murphy will be holding a free workshop on Wednesday 15 August from 10.30am to 12.30pm. The session will explore typography and drawings to decorate ceramic bricks which will be fired and feature within the exhibition.

Matt Gladstone, Executive Director for Place said: When people think of Barnsley’s industrial history they think of coal and glass. However, wherever there was mining, there was often brick manufacturing as was the case in Barnsley.

“Many of the borough's buildings are constructed out of local bricks, even the iconic town hall. The exterior is covered in white Portland stone, with the structure and interior walls built with Barnsley bricks, which are still visible at the rear of the building on St Mary’s Place.

“The Barnsley Brick Project helps create a visual timeline of the town’s history in this important but almost forgotten industry. The exhibition and workshops are part of the town’s fantastic programme of activities, events and drop-in sessions for families to enjoy and take part in over the summer holidays.”

The Barnsley Brick Project will be on display at Experience Barnsley Museum and Discovery Centre until Sunday 14 October. Entry is free with donations to the Barnsley Museums and Heritage Trust welcomed. Tickets for paid and free workshops can be ordered through Eventbrite.