What it's like growing up in Barnsley

October 23, 2016

Growing up is tough; you've got high school, friends and puberty to deal with and sometimes it can just be too much. I know, I've been there, but I had it a lot tougher than most as I grew up in Barnsley...

If you don't know, Barnsley is a small mining town in the North of England and being a mining town comes a certain pressure. As soon as I could walk I was taken to work darnt'pit. I started off picking out the bigger (and more superior) lumps of coal and putting them in sacks. By the age of 7 I was pushing carts to and from the coal face and by 10 I had worked my way up to become a miner's apprentice and was learning how to properly remove the coal from the coal face. I learned about the best way to get bigger clumps of coal and how to extract them safely. I spent 13 hours a day underground and didn't know what the sun looked like until I was at least 13!

Ah, the sweet smell of Mining Machinery...

I went to school from the ages of 10 - 16, I started off learning simple things like how to read and write and then progressed to the harder task of learning how to speak English. In Barnsley we speak in Northern Dialect which is essentially a different language so I had to learn English otherwise I wouldn't be able to talk to anyone outside of Barnsley. It was really difficult at first. I still struggle with the word 'the' - in Barnsley we substitute 'the' with t' to make things easier so 'the pub' becomes t'pub. It's so difficult to learn! 

Everyone in Barnsley has dark hair; it's what happens when coal dust becomes part of your DNA, we live, eat and breathe coal so it only makes sense that it would one day become part of us. I remember my friend dyed her hair blonde once and she stood out like a sore thumb! There's no individuality in Barnsley - we move as a pack or not at all. 

And then there's our houses... we live in mud huts and have communal out houses at the end of the garden. It really creates a sense of community as we all live in each other's pockets; we all get up at the same time, go to work at the same time and then go to bed at the same time each night. It's like clockwork. We are like worker bees, all working together towards the common goal. 

Growing up in Barnsley wasn't all bad though, it had its good points too. I remember playing a came of 'count the flat caps' with my friend one day, we made it to 300 before we lost count and had to go inside. Everyone in Barnsley wears flat caps... if you don't you are branded an outcast and shunned. It's just the way it is. 

So, that's what growing up in Barnsley was like. It was tough but then again how many 19 year olds can say they can mine a coal face? Not many I can assure you! 

Sithi later 

Lottie :) 

Back to top

You Might Also Like