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The Parish Council have been asked to share the following information with residents:

” The Management Committee of Tankersley Community Association wishes to announce that due to low turnouts at its recent Annual Summer Galas, this event has become financially unviable and no longer makes a significant contribution to the monies required for the upkeep, maintenance and utility charges involved in running Tankersley Welfare Hall. Accordingly, the committee regretfully announces there will be no Tankersley Summer Gala in 2014.”

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Shot in both Barnsley and Tankersley the film Kes is 40 years old


Kes is the 1969 film based on Barry Hines novel “A Kestrel for a Knave,” and was directed by Ken Loach.

Kes is a story of Barnsley boy Billy Casper, an academic failure and victim of social and spiritual poverty.  This was no “Disney” boy and his pet type story, but a story of a disaffected Barnsley lad living on a grim estate, who first nicks a book on falconary and later steals a Kestrel. With infinite patience and dedication Billy trains the bird. For the first time in his short life he finds fulfilment and a sense of identity through the rearing and training of the kestre.

Committed to falconry in a way he’ll never be to anything at school, Billy gets bullied by both kids and teachers alike, especially PE teacher Mr. Sugden played by Brian Glover. Billy’s only ally Mr. Farthing played by Colin Welland shows interest in Billy’s extra-curricular activities as he discovers Billy Casper is actually intelligent and dedicated.

David Bradley recently visited Tankersley and was being interviewed for a BBC documentary “Inside out” which should be shown on BBC One this autumn. I caught up with David Bradley as the film crew came to Tankersley Old Hall.  He was here to talk about the filming of the scene where Billy Casper scales the ruin to get to the Kestrels Nest.

The original film crew in 1969 had to have all the required licences in place to take the chick, which was then trained by Barry Hines’ brother, Richard, especially for the film.  When I asked how he managed to safely climb the tower on film, and were there any special effects to accomplish this, he told me that the farmer put about two tons of straw at the bottom in case he fell, and there were a few good hand holds, but he had to scale the ruin the hard way.  He was told if he fell it would mean the end of the film!

Forty years ago David Bradley was an unknown Barnsley lad, and at 14 he won the lead part in the film. For his first film he won a BAFTA award for Best Newcomer.  He left school at 17 and began training as an actor in the Royal National Theatre.  Like Daniel Radcliffe, star of Harry Potter, he went on to star in the stage play Equus, and went on a 2 and a half year tour of the United States, in Hollywood and Boston.

kes-article-image-2David had to change his stage name to Dai Bradley because Equity the Actors union would not let him register his own name, as this was taken by another actor.  That actor currently plays the Caretaker, Argus Filch, in the Harry Potter films.

I visited the Old Hall whilst they were filming, and managed to ask David a few questions afterwards.

Speaking briefly to David, I asked David a few questions  after filming on the Inside Out programme.

What has is been like working as an actor over the last 40 years, you have worked with some very famous people, Richard Burton, Burt Lancaster, Jenifer Jason Leigh, Lynne Perry, and the great Brian Glover?

Yes, I’m glad you mentioned the Great Brian Glover! The great thing I’ve discovered is I’ve been very fortunate to work with some great people Burt Lancaster, John Mills, Anthony Hopkins the people I most admire are those who still have their feet down to earth and very rooted, they are generous people.  The people I found difficult, in fact there was only one, who was Joan Fontaine.


We did a play together in Austria called “The Lion in Winter,” about Henry II, she played my Mother. We just did not get on, she was the type of person who just wanted all the limelight, at the first press engagement which was a buffet and wine type of thing, she had T-Shirts made for the other cast members that said “I Love Joan Fontaine”  I could not believe it, of course none of us wore them!

How did you get selected to play Billy Casper?

As many people know the author Barry Hines was a school teacher, and he taught at Hoyland at the time, but he also taught at the school I went to Athersley South, or St Helens although he was not there when I went there.  Tony Garnett and Ken Loach did not want to use professional actors they wanted to use real kids primarily, in fact all schools where children had failed their 11 plus.  They did not want to use Grammar school kids. In some respects they wanted to have a double message, the message of the film, and the message that someone from a very normal background- a working class background,- an ordinary kid could actually contribute something. And that being myself, David Bradley, you did not have to use a professional actor to bring Billy to life.

Any more roles in the pipeline?kes-article-image-3

No not at this moment, I’ve had to take a bit of time out from work because of family matters, but now I hope to get back into the business full time.  There is a film I did quite recently, a couple of years back, that sadly has not been released.  Channel four bought the rights but has decided not to show it at the moment.  I saw it at the Bradford Film festival, it was called Asylum, but its now called Refuge, the producer had to change the name after another film with Natasha Richardson was released.

You starred in the Stage production of Equus the same part as Daniel Radcliffe?

Yes that’s right, I played along side Brian Bedford, a well know American actor, well not so well known here, but big in America, and I did it in London, South Africa and America.  Daniel did it on Broadway, but I turned that down, I had done the play for a year in America, in Boston and Hollywood , and I was exhausted, and needed a break – the producer offered me one week but I asked for three, and we could not compromise on two.  And because I’d been in America for a long time, I had accumulated a lot of equipment, a lot of personal stuff and it would have taken me at least a week to have shipped it from the West Coast to the East Coast so I just could not do it.

kes-article-image-4Were there any similarities between you and Billy, growing up?

I guess, in some ways there was, but Billy and I were different characters, to a great extent.  I came from a family that was reasonably secure; my Mum and Dad did have hard times, and there were arguments as you usually have but the family stayed together.  I enjoyed school, I didn’t mind going and I had good relationships with most of my teachers. On a kind of base level Billy and I came from the same background in that we both came from Coal mining families. My dad worked at North Gawber Pit, in Mapplewell and I remember as a child being taken to the Bonfire night at the Tin Hat ( North Gawber Miners Welfare)  We, also, both had an appreciation of the countryside  and most importantly we both had the same accent.  It would have been very difficult say coming from Sheffield and trying to do a Barnsley accent,  you couldn’t say ‘dee’ and ‘dah’ , Dee-Dahs it just wouldn’t have worked!



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Tankeresleia was an 1800 acre Lordship and was held prior to the Norman Conquest by Ledwin; a Saxon Lord.  William the Conqueror deprived Ledwin of his Lands, and gave the land to Earl Meriton (or Moreton) and it passed down several generations and passed to a family who assumed the name “de Tankersley”.


During the Saxon period and up to this point the Village had a church and a Presbyter, at the end of the line of Tankersley  Sir Henry de Tankersley had only one son, Richard, who died towards the end of the 13th Century.  He left only two daughters one of whom married Sir Hugh Eland, who created the Tankersley Park with a “Grant of Free Warren” from Edward III.  The Eland family did not hold the land for long as they were passed to the Savile family as a dowry when Isabel heiress of Thomas Eland married Knight Sir John Savile in 1375.  It then passed from the Savile family to John Talbot, a general in the Hundred Years war with France  who was made Earls of Shrewsbury in 1442.  Tankersley Park passed down through 11 Generations of Talbots until Francis Talbot the 11th Earl of Shrewsbury sold the land to Thomas Wentworth who became the First Earl of Stafford.

The ruins of the Tankersley Old Hall are about ¾ mile South West of St Peters Church in Tankersley, the ruins are almost in the centre of the former Tankersley Park, they featured in the 1969 film,  Kes, based on Barry Hines book a “Kestrel for a Knave”


After the Wentworth family came to Tankersley Park, the great family seat of Wentworth Woodhouse was built and the Old Hall leased out to Sir Richard Fanshawes in March 1652. Sir Richard Fanshawe was a Royalist in the English Civil war and Charles I dispatched him to Spain and was captured in battle of Worcester in 1651, the last battle of the War in which the Parliamentarians defeated the Royalists. After the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, he became a loyal servant of Charles II and served as Ambassador for Portugal, and then Spain until he died in Madrid in 1666.

The House served as a main residence for the family, but in July of 1654, Anne their daughter died and was buried in Tankersley Church, they left the house before the end of the year and returned to London.


Tankersley Old Hall was built, in the late 16th century, by the Savile family. The earlier manor house site is thought to have been on the north of the St Peters Parish church, where the remains of an old moat can still be found and where the 19th Century Rectory now stands.

During 1984 an archaeological investigation of the Old Hall by the County Archaeology Service has shown that the late 16th century house was an enlargement of an earlier structure, almost certainly a late medieval Hunting Lodge.

The Wentworth Estate was remodelled in the early 18th century to suit contemporary taste, with artificial lakes and follies, and the Old Hall fell into disuse and was gradually dismantled in the 1720’s and 1730’s, Its stone and timber were re-used in a number of buildings including the present farmhouse which stands to the west of the single block of the Old Hall which was allowed to survive, and the ruins of you can see today.

In 1727  Daniel Defoe, the author “Robinson Crusoe” passed through the area on a tour of England he wrote :

“From Rotherham we turned north west to Wentworth, on purpose to see the old seat of Tankersley, and the park, where I saw the largest red deer that, I believe, are in this part of Europe: One of the hinds, I think, was larger than my horse, and he was not a very small pad of fourteen hands and half high. This was anciently the dwelling of the great Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, beheaded in King Charles the First’s time, by a law, ex post facto, voted afterward not to be drawn into a precedent. The body lies interred in Wentworth Church.”

Later in the 18th century the park was divided up and both coal and ironstone mines were created, and the landscape started to change.

The Remains of the Hall

At first sight the ruins of the Old Hall appear to represent one bay of an Elizabethan stone-built house of three stories with mullion-and-transom cross windows and hollow-chamfered string courses. On closer inspection it can be seen that the east wall is in fact the west wall of an earlier building.

During the 16th Century it was common for the nobility to take existing structures and completely re-model and extend them.  A similar modification to a hunting lodge was Sheffield Manor.

Only one rectangular block of the hall exists today, and it is in a very advanced state of decay, and storms have made this much worse.  An engraving made in the 18thCentury shows the Hall to be a long building with several projecting Tower-like bays to the front (Facing North).   However the 19th Century sketch shown on the previous page shows a lot less.   The building looks to be 3 stories, and there is evidence of a cellar on the site, now filled in. If you look closely you can see from the remains on the East wall that it is the west wall of an earlier structure, and contains the remains of a Medieval fireplace from that previous structure, on the ground floor.  This wall has a fireplace near its south end, with a chimney behind it. The fireplace has a flat-pointed arch with a moulding of rolls and hollows that look very different to the Elizabethan fireplaces on the First Floor.  old-hall-article-image-3.jpgOn the first floor there are a series of heavy corbels, also of medieval character; a similar range of corbels on the external (i.e. west) face of the wall towards its north end carries a projection, probably a second chimney stack.  At first floor level the internal (east) face of the wall has been largely rebuilt in brick, with two good Tudor fireplaces. The outside wall keeps its medieval outer face.  One unusual feature of the ruin is that it has lead drainpipes to take the water off the roof embedded in the wall, which you can see in the picture.

The Archaeology report from 1984 mentions that the field to the East contains masonry just under the surface of the soil, and that further archaeological surveys could reveal more information regarding the layout out the Elizabethan manor house, which we know as Tankersley Old Hall.



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Geoff Parkin recalls Pilley as it was, when the Colliery was open


My early recollections of Pilley Pit were in the late 1940’s.  The Pit was Pilley and Pilley was the Pit.  Life revolved around it and it seemed at the time that this was the boundary of the world.

The most dominant feature of the Pit was the Pit-Hill, and it was said that you could see York Minster on a clear day from its highest point.  Behind the Hill were railway sidings, which fed through to Birdwell station (now the Company Shop) and eventually over a bridge at New Road, and onto Birdwell, under Sheffield Road to join up with lines serving Rockingham Colliery.   There was also a bridge at the bottom of Pilley, where railway lines from the Pit crossed New Road into sidings which joined the railway lines passing under Lidgett Lane and Knoll Cottages and then onto Birdwell, passing under the Walk, Sheffield Road and again joining up with the lines from Rockingham Colliery.  Shunting engines – I recall one called “Sentinel,” who used to charge up and down the sidings to the Colliery with rows of wagons, ready to be sent down the railway line.


The road up to the Pit – along past Stone Row Cottages, entered the Pit Yard, past the Post Office Row.  There was a shop on the corner – Ellaways, Tom and Bessie ran it – which sold most everyday household items.  The Pit Yard had a triangle of lawn in front of the offices and “check” office, and the weighbridge.

There was also a row of cottages right in the yard just before the roadway into the Blacksmiths Workshop, Fitters Shop and the Joiners Shop. My Auntie Nellie lived in one of these cottages, and on the left of the roadway near the Blacksmith Shop stood one of the Pit Head Gears.  To a six year old this was incredibly huge.

The Blacksmiths Shop was my biggest adventure.  Dad was Foreman Blacksmith and I used to go down at breakfast time on a Saturday morning.  There was an open-hearth brazier- quite large for heating up metals etc. and Dad would let me operate the blowers to heat up the coke bed ready for work whilst he and the other blacksmiths had their break.  That was amazing on a cold winter’s day!  Round the corner stood the cooling tower – a large wooden structure with water always cascading down it’s inside.  Past this was the “Club” which had a concert room, bars and snooker all there for the miner’s welfare.

Behind the colliery was the Coking Ovens – a real sight when the ovens were emptied into steel wagons awaiting shunting down the railway sidings.  On a winters day my Mother would send me on my bike to the gate to clear a cold by breathing in the tarry air!


Pilley Green was always busy with NCB Lorries running between the Pit Yard and Hermit-Hill Drift mine.  Sometimes carrying equipment, sometimes men in the open back lorries.  I remember Ellis Walsh, Raymond Hague and Harvey Ainsworth driving these vehicles.  It was always busy at shift chance with buses bringing workers from outside the village – Lal Furness from High Green was a regular contractor.

I remember the Pit Hill slipping in the early 1950’s and this caused a lot of disruption.  Gradually the landslip was cleared, but somehow the view never seemed quite the same.

My Father retired in November 1972.  He was the last working man at the colliery and helped demolish the old buildings.

This is only a very brief account of a short period in the entire life of Wharncliffe Silkstone Colliery.  Its history began long before me, and there are bound to be many interesting and amusing stories about life in and around Pilley and of course today the site is occupied by an Industrial Park, oddly referred to as Wentworth Industrial Park.

Geoff Parkin 2009