Penistone - Market Street - - 513144.jpg

Market Street, Penistone
Penistone is located in South Yorkshire
Location within South Yorkshire
Population22,909 Wards (East and West) 2011
OS grid referenceSE245033
• London155 mi (249 km) SSE
Civil parish
  • Penistone
Metropolitan borough
Metropolitan county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townSheffield
Postcode districtS36
Dialling code01226
PoliceSouth Yorkshire
FireSouth Yorkshire
UK Parliament
List of places
53°31′30″N 1°37′44″W / 53.525°N 1.629°W / 53.525; -1.629Coordinates: 53°31′30″N 1°37′44″W / 53.525°N 1.629°W / 53.525; -1.629

Penistone (/ˈpɛnɪstən/ PEN-iss-tən) is a market town and civil parish in the Metropolitan Borough of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England, which had a population of 22,909 at the 2011 census.[1][2] Historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire, it is 8 miles (13 km) west of Barnsley, 17 miles (27 km) north-east of Glossop, 14.2 miles (23 km) north-west of Sheffield, 27 miles (43 km) south-west of Leeds and 29 miles (47 km) east of Manchester in the foothills of the Pennines. The town is frequently noted on lists of unusual place names.

The highest point, Hartcliffe Tower, is 1,194 ft (364 m) above sea level and has views over the Woodhead bypass and the Dark Peak. The surrounding countryside is predominantly rural with farming on rich well-watered soil on mainly gentle slopes rising to the bleak moorland to the west of the town. Dry stone walls, small hamlets and farms surrounded by fields and livestock are synonymous with the area. The area is known for its rugged breed of sheep, the Whitefaced Woodland.

The market town itself stands at its highest point around St Johns Church at around 820 ft (250 m) above sea level. However, the surrounding land rises well over 1,000 ft (300 m) towards Cubley and Thurlstone Moors and out towards smaller hamlets at Carlecotes, Victoria, Dunford and Crow Edge, elevated at points above 1,200 ft (370 m). There are several vantage points around Penistone that afford panoramic views of the surrounding areas of West Yorkshire and North Derbyshire.


Peace Day in 1919
Peace Day in 1919


The place-name Penistone is first attested in the Domesday Book of 1086, where it appears as Pengeston(e) and Pangeston; later sources record it as Peningston.[3] It may mean "the farmstead at the hill called Penning", in reference to the high ridge immediately south of the town. This combines the Brittonic word penn (meaning a head, end, or height) with the Old English suffix ing and the word tun (meaning a farmstead or village).[4]

Penistone has frequently been noted on lists of unusual place-names because it contains the letter sequence "penis";[5][6] however, those initial five letters are not pronounced like the name of the body part.

Medieval history

In 1066, the township was owned by Ailric. It was razed in 1069 in the Harrying of the North following the Norman Conquest; the Domesday Book described the settlement in 1086 as "waste".

Sir Gyles Penyston (fl. 13th century), whose family seat was in Cornwall (perhaps at Truro) before his time, and who is an ancestor of the Penyston Baronets, was styled of Penyston, denoting that he resided in Penistone.[7]


Sheep sales have been held in the town since before 1699, when the market received a royal charter and the area produced the now rare Penistone sheep.[8]


The town remained small until the coming of the railway in 1845, although several pre-19th century buildings survive. The oldest still standing is Penistone Church. This is the Grade I listed mediaeval parish church, St John the Baptist Church. The White Hart pub in the town dates from 1377. Penistone had a market for a long time before its royal charter was granted in 1699, although its historic livestock market was closed recently to make way for town centre re-development. A new landmark building has been built in Penistone for the Market Place. This is an oaken Cruck Barn and was built by Carpenter Oak of Totnes, Devon.


A map of Penistone from 1954 that shows the railway
A map of Penistone from 1954 that shows the railway
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The Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway via Penistone, Dunford Bridge and the three-mile Woodhead Tunnel opened on 15 July 1845. Construction conditions were difficult and 32 men died during the tunnel's construction and 28 died of cholera. In 1849, Penistone's 29-arch viaduct was built by Messrs Ingham and Bower. Stone was obtained from Walk Mill Bank, Oxspring, and conveyed by a tramway on the side of the River Don. The Penistone to Huddersfield Railway Line opened on 1 July 1850. The second and third arches of Penistone Viaduct collapsed on 2 February 1916 when heavy rain weakened the foundations. The driver and fireman of a stationary goods locomotive were able to jump clear and survive the collapse. Cracks in the parapet had been observed some days earlier. The viaduct was repaired and was back in service in August of the same year.

Penistone became a railway junction with a depot for engineering trains. Penistone station had frequent trains to Manchester, Sheffield and Huddersfield but after the Beeching cuts, passenger trains on the Woodhead Line to Manchester finished. Goods trains continued until the line closed and much of the railway infrastructure was removed. The town's station is served by Huddersfield-Sheffield trains on the "Penistone Line".

The town was served by the Woodhead Line between Manchester (Piccadilly) and Sheffield (Victoria) via the Woodhead Tunnel. Penistone railway station was served by express passenger trains. Following major investment (started in 1935 but delayed by the Second World War), the electrification of the railway was completed in 1954 and the line's power control centre was built adjacent to Penistone railway station. The building stands and has been converted to commercial use. The Woodhead Line was the first main line railway in the UK to be electrified, but its once-pioneering 1500 V DC system became non-standard. Penistone railway station lost its Woodhead Line passenger trains on 5 January 1970, but goods trains (mainly coal) continued for a further 11 years. The line was controversially closed between Penistone and Hadfield in 1981 and the track lifted several years later. The route of the track is now used as part of the Trans-Pennine Trail.

Plans to re-open parts of the Woodhead line as the Don Valley Railway between Sheffield to Deepcar/Stocksbridge could reduce travel time to Sheffield.


Penistone was a parish in the wapentake of Staincross in the West Riding of Yorkshire and after 1837 was a member of the Wortley Poor law union.[9]

Penistone was in the Barnsley West and Penistone constituency until the 2010 general election when it became part of the newly created Penistone and Stocksbridge constituency.

Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council is responsible for local government issues and Penistone Town Council is responsible for local issues.


Penistone is situated on the south bank of the River Don. The parish, which included Gunthwaite, Hunshelf, Ingbirchworth, Langsett, Oxspring, and Thurlstone, covered 21,338 acres, mostly arable land and pasture and 2,000 acres of moorland. The underlying geology is the coal measures of the South Yorkshire Coalfield, from which some coal was mined in the 19th century, and sandstone flags were quarried.[9]


The cattle market pre-1914
The cattle market pre-1914

Penistone has a thriving market, although smaller since the building of a Tesco supermarket in 2011, which reduced the market footprint. The cattle market, which was the centre of the farming livestock trade, and the Fur n Feathers market, have long since gone. At 747 ft, Penistone is among the highest market towns in Yorkshire.

The Market Cruck Barn was officially opened on 21 July 2011. Penistone Farmers' Market is a monthly farmers' market on the second Saturday of every month held in the market place.

See also: Royd Moor Wind Farm


St John the Baptist Church

Radio station

The cinema in Penistone, Penistone Paramount
The cinema in Penistone, Penistone Paramount

Penistone has its own radio station. Penistone FM, formed in 2005, is a not-for-profit community radio which broadcasts on 95.7 FM. Ofcom granted it a licence to broadcast in December 2007. Test transmissions began in May 2009 and the station was officially launched in June 2009,[12] with its licence running for five years. The licence was renewed for a further five years, to finish in June 2019.

Penistone is also served by commercial radio station Dearne FM, which broadcasts to Barnsley, Penistone and the Dearne Valley areas in South Yorkshire on the dedicated frequency of 97.1 FM. Test transmissions started in September 2003 on both 97.1 and the Barnsley and Dearne Valley frequency (102.0) before the station's official launch on 5 October 2003.

Sport and recreation


Grammar school

Main article: Penistone Grammar School

Penistone Grammar School was founded in 1392. Notable former pupils include the blind mathematician Nicholas Saunderson, and Anne Campbell, who served as MP for Cambridge until May 2005. Most of the old school was demolished in 2011 and a new school built. Other local schools include St John's Primary School, Spring Vale Primary School and Thurlstone Primary School.


Pancake Day. In the early 20th century it was the custom in the town for the church to ring a pancake bell on Shrove Tuesday.[14]

March. Penistone Arts Weeks returned in 2022.[15]

The annual Penistone Mayor's Parade Weekend is in June. It consists of two concerts, a parade and a gala.[16]

The first Penistone Folk Festival took place in June 2011 in the Market Barn. This is planned to be an annual charity event and occurs at around the same date as the earlier 'Penistone Sing', on the festival of St John, to whom the parish church is dedicated.

Penistone Literary Festival ('Pen-Lit') was started in 2014.

August. On Yorkshire Day, 1 August 2006, the now annual gathering of lord mayors, mayors and other civic heads from Yorkshire was held at Penistone. The day included a service at the parish church, a parade around the town, films and an evening of music at the Paramount Cinema and an exhibition at St John's Community Centre, and Hartcliff Tower was opened to the public. There were Morris dancers, a farmers' market, a shop-window competition and a historic organ concert at St Andrews Church.

September. Penistone Show is an annual agricultural show. It is held on the second Saturday in September. As well as ordinary agricultural categories for sheep, cows, goats and poultry entries are received in horticulture, handicraft, show jumping, pigeons, dogs, photography and other categories.

Penistone's Annual Competitive Music Festival is held at Penistone Grammar School on the last Saturday of September. The event was founded by Millhouse Green Male Voice Choir and was in its 48th year in 2016.

Notable people

Fairtrade Town

On 26 February 2007 the town was officially declared a Fairtrade Town.[18]

Twin towns

See also


  1. ^ "Barnsley MBC ward (Pensistone East) population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  2. ^ "Barnsley MBC ward (Penistone West) Population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  3. ^ "Key to English Place-Names, Penistone". Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  4. ^ Eilert Ekwall, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-names, p.362.
  5. ^ Lyall, Sarah (22 January 2009). "No Snickering: That Road Sign Means Something Else". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  6. ^ "13 Town Names We Can't Stop Laughing Over". Cosmopolitan. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  7. ^ Barns-Graham, Peter (22 May 2009). "Pennyston1". Families Database. [Stirnet](subscription required). Retrieved 4 April 2012.
  8. ^ "Oklahoma State University website – page about Penistone sheep". Archived from the original on 3 November 2008. Retrieved 21 May 2008.
  9. ^ a b Lewis, Samuel (1848). Penistone (St. John the Baptist). A Topographical Dictionary of England. British History Online. pp. 545–549. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  10. ^ "St. Andrews, Penistone". The United Reformed Church in Sheffield. Retrieved 19 July 2021.
  11. ^ "Penistone Community Church". Penistone Community Church. Retrieved 19 July 2021.
  12. ^ "History". Penistone FM. Retrieved 19 July 2021.
  13. ^ a b "CASC Registered Clubs". HM Revenue & Customs. 3 July 2009. Retrieved 2 August 2009.
  14. ^ "OLD LENTERN FARE". Globe. 1 March 1911. p. 1.
  15. ^ "Penistone arts weeks returns". Around town magazine. Retrieved 27 May 2022.
  16. ^ "2022 Events". Penistone Pictorial. Retrieved 28 May 2022.
  17. ^ "Former Town skipper turned down bigger offers to join Barnsley". Halifax Courier. 28 May 2015. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  18. ^ "Fairtrade Towns". Archived from the original on 1 February 2010. Retrieved 28 November 2008.
  19. ^ "UK Twin Towns". Dorset Twinning Association. Archived from the original on 24 June 2007. Retrieved 30 June 2007.

Further reading