They claim up there that it’s God’s Own Country, a phrase I’ve hear used for other parts of our country, so what in God’s name makes them so dour, or are they? In a word: No.
Like anyone, if you catch them on a bad day they can be grumpy and Yorkshire grumpiness can be slightly sharper than anywhere else, but I’ve found that in general they are very friendly and warm. A recent visit to see grandsons and by definition their parents who live there cemented this view. I don’t make the mistake of mistaking directness which they are known for, for rudeness, they just say it like it is, however a recent visit there to a small cafe for tea and refreshments was the exception. The lady server did not seem to have the word “sorry” in her vocabulary, and the mere mention of non dairy products illicited a cold stare of contempt. That aside the eventual reduced vittels were very tasty. So, lose a star for no non-dairy, and another for being “Mrs Grumpidrawers”.
The area we were in was where the Miner’s Strike of 1984 started just down the road in Cortonwood. Elsecar now has no mines, in fact to my knowledge there are no mines left at all in Yorkshire. Massive logistic centres built near the M1 now seem to be sprouting, it gives the area employment, but not the proud employment they had of hewing coal. Is it a shame? In some respects it is, there’s not much to be proud of in sorting parcels from China. Though mining was a dangerous and unpleasant industry. The Barnsley Museum has recently done an animated film of the area, which is well worth watching. See it here. The area would have been blanketed in smoke from foundries and coal burning, many of the older buildings still blackened by the soot in the air. No wonder miners died young. Nearly all of them smoked too, as it helped them “clear their lungs” seems unbelievable these days when we have clean expensive energy that we can generate from wind and sun, and anyone in their right mind will have given up smoking.
Wentworth, the village we walked to on our day out, also has an interesting history, and the present day village is more like somewhere you might visit in the Cotswolds rather than Rotherham.
Read all about Wentworth right here and if you are feeling brave go to the Village Shop and get yourself an ordinary Yorkshire tea and a Turkey and Cranberry Sandwich, just don’t mention “alternatives” or “non-dairy” or you might be in the receiving end of a thousand yard stare.