POPULATION. Mid-1934 (estimated) 71,350. At 1931 census 71,522. (M.O. questions the first figure.) Excess of births over deaths during period 1931-34, 1,834. Also in same period number of inhabited houses increased by 600. By figures given, population must have shrunk by emigration 2016 in period 1931-34. (M.O. says 1400 ??) At any rate there must have been some shrinkage from this cause. Area of town 6,036 acres. Equals density of 10.2 per acre. Equals density of 6528 per square mile.
Number of inhabited houses end of 1934, 17719. Equivalent to 4.02 persons per house. Number of rooms not obtainable, probably averages round about 4 per house.
LOCAL INDUSTRIES. Coal mining, iron-working, glass, linen, paper, shirts.
VITAL STATISTICS. Birth rate 1934, 19.20 (increase of 1.89 on previous year.) Death rate 1934 11.35 (decrease on previous year, rate not obtainable.) Against this, Birth rate for England and Wales 14.8. Death rate for E. And W., 11.8.
Birth rate (Barnsley) in 1923, 24.91 (shrinkage of .5% 1923-1934.)
Average Birth rate for 10 years 1914-1923, 26.68. (Has shrunk about .7% as against average of 1914-23.)
Death rate in 1923, 13.36 (decrease of .201% 1923-34.)
Average death rate for 10 years 1914-23, 18.3. (has decreased by about .7% as against period 1914-23.)
Taking period 1901-1934, Birth rate has shrunk from 36.24 to 19.20, death rate from 22.15 to 11.35, infant mortality from 192 (per thousand) to 64.
Variation between wards (p. 104 of M.O’s report). Highest birth rate (Monk Bretton) 32.31. Lowest (West) 16.04. Highest death rate not obtainable. Highest infant mortality (South-East) 130. Lowest (North – also has second lowest birth rate) 33.
HOUSING. (See pp. 56-7 of M.O’s report.) Number of houses erected during 1934 326, 35 of these by the Corporation. Number in 1935 not obtainable but presumably about the same or less as there does not seem to be any great activity in building. M.O’s report of 1934 gives number of “dwelling-houses found to be in a state so dangerous or injurious to health as to be unfit for human habitation” as 601; and number of (other) houses “found not to be in all respects reasonably fit for human habitation” as 3,346. As against this, one house was demolished during 1934. Number demolished during 1935 not obtainable, but probably exceeds 200. During this period the condemnation and destruction of the New Street area (see newspaper cutting attached) was gone through with. The houses in question here numbered 270. Not all have been demolished yet but none are inhabited. There is a waiting list of over 2000 applicants for Corporation houses. All or nearly all of the earth W.Cs in Barnsley have been converted. Virtually no working class houses, other than Corporation houses, have baths or hot water laid on. The public baths have only 19 men’s slipper baths (for a population of 70,000!) When the demolition of the New Street area was discussed, the surveyor considered that about 10 of the 270 houses had baths or hot water, but I am told that these were merely shops or other not strictly working class houses. All houses in Barnsley now have their own W.C. (almost always outdoor, of course.) Number of Common Lodging Houses not obtainable but said by M.O’s report to be decreasing. Number of houses let off in rooms, on the other hand, said to be increasing. This is of some importance as it suggests that under pressure of poverty people are becoming less particular about having a house of their own and therefore might be more easily reconciled to living in flats.
It is noticeable that demolition and re-housing, when undertaken at all, is done with great ruthlessness. There is a row still in progress about the purchase for building purposes of California Gardens. This is a block of allotments in the New Street area which belongs to a private owner (the Rector of Barnsley, I think) and has been under cultivation, largely intensive cultivation, for something like 100 years. It is admitted that many of the tenants have brought their patch to a high state of cultivation, that they have sunk much capital in greenhouses etc., and that some of them are partly dependent for their living on sale of tomatoes. Nevertheless the Corporation are bent on purchasing the land and intend to offer the tenants no compensation, except that they are to be given fresh allotments elsewhere – these, of course, raw soil which will need years of cultivation before it is worth much.
The following figures are from the Barnsley Chronicle of March 24th 1934:
Number of applicants waiting for houses, 2420.
Estimated number of houses required for re-housing purposes, 2500.
Number Corporation has actually erected (ie. by 1934) 451.
One thing said to increase the cost of land is the mineral rights, which are almost always owned separately from the surface land.
One fact that emerges from the New Street enquiry (see cutting) is that the small landlord (old women who have invested their savings in two or three houses) are often the worst landlords because they cannot afford to pay for repairs.
MUNICIPAL HOUSING ESTATES ‘The County Borough of Barnsley Authority has sixteen schemes with a total complement of 2,667 houses. Upon the inception of Municipal Housing Estates in 1921 the initial Schemes commenced were Racecommon Road Estate (49), Huddersfield Road and Gawber Road Estate (282), and Wilthorpe Estate (140), built under the Housing (Assisted) Schemes Act of 1919. The completion of this section was followed by the erection of further houses under the Housing Acts of 1923 and 1924 in various parts of the borough. A Slum Clearance Scheme was carried out, called the New Street (Western) Area Improvement Scheme. The number of houses that were demolished was 139 and the number of tenants re-housed in alternative accommodation under the Re-Housing Act of 1925 was 110. In addition the Minister of Health has confirmed the New Street (Eastern) Clearance Area, The Drake’s Yard Clearance Area and the Oakwell Yard Clearance Area, and is at present considering representations in respect of the Westgate and Shambles Street Clearance Areas, Days Court Old Mill Clearance Area, Keel Yard, Stairfoot Clearance Area, and the Carlton Road and Wakefield Road Clearance Area. The borough also own thirty-four small cottage houses in Taylor Row, pre-war built and acquired for highways development at a future date.
‘APPLICATIONS FOR HOUSE TENANCIES. The Applications for Tenancies Register has been revised from time to time and at the present there is a waiting list of unclassified applications totalling 2,112.
‘CLASSES OF HOUSES. The various types of houses built are:
‘Table showing number of houses erected in the following areas: Old Borough, Ardsley, Monk Bretton.
Unemployment Occupational Centre (run by Council of Social Service.)
Premises at Milton House, Wellington Street. Premises consist of large hall, small office, basement with furnaces and about four large work-rooms on upper floor. Was previously warehouse of wholesale grocery firm. Rent £1 a week. Besides this there is coke for heating, electric light and other expenses. Total expenses said to be £6 a week.
Number of members on books 500. Active members 360, all men – no boys. Subscription is 1d a week. Evidently the concern is financed by some charitable organisation which may or may not be aided by the Government but is at any rate encouraged by it. There are voluntary helpers who organise and teach handicrafts.
There are classes in Woodworking, Basket-work, Sea-grass work, Cobbling, hand-loom weaving, physical training, Dramatics, rug-making, hair-cutting, upholstering etc. In each subject there is a “leader,” who has usually learned his craft at the centre and then instructs others. Apparently the classes in each subject take place on one or at most two evenings a week.
The primary idea is to give unemployed men something to do and a place to go to. Secondarily to let them make furniture, mend shoes etc. for themselves at a low price. It is not or not primarily the object to make things for sale. The men can purchase materials on the instalment system eg. if a man wants to make a book-case he applies for what wood is needed and gets free use of tools and work-room, paying for the wood at so much a week. Behind this one can discern the motive to keep unemployed men quiet by giving them the illusion of being busy; also to keep them out of the pubs. But I cannot be sure about this till I have seen some of the voluntary helpers.
Went round the work-rooms, in which there were not any classes going on at the moment, however. A fairly good carpentering room with a sufficiency of tools but rather poor ones. Some of the things the men had made were not bad. There is to be an exhibition of things made at these centres at Sheffield shortly. The whole place was decently warm and roomy and unemployed men must be glad to have a place like that to go to. But I did not like the mien of the men who took me round. They were of the submissive type and one of them said rather unctuously that men who had this place to come to “hardly ever went to the public.”
This is said to be one of the biggest and most successful centres in England. As the membership is small considering the town’s population (probably somewhere about 10,000* registered unemployed) I gather the movement as a whole has not been a success. At Wigan I was told that the men at the centre there were set to be making meat-safes which were sold not for their benefit (did not verify this but heard it from two sources), after which the membership dropped off.
NB. It is a pity the facilities for carpentering etc in these places cannot be incorporated in some genuinely pro-working class movement such as the N.U.W.M.
UNEMPLOYMENT. No exact figures obtainable, but hear on all sides that it amounts to about one third of registered workers (counting in U.A.B. and P.A.C.) ie. probably about 8000. Will increase greatly in summer when mines start short time. Accurate figures later.
RELIGION. ‘Until recent divisions consequent upon rapid growth of population, Barnsley consisted of two parishes – St. Mary (the mother church) and St. George. St. George’s Church is in Pitt Street. Other Anglican churches are situated as follows: St. John’s, Duke Street; St. Peter’s, Doncaster Road; St. Edward the Confessor, Kingstone; Christ Church, Ardsley; St. Luke’s, Worsborough Common; St. Paul’s, Monk Bretton; as well as three mission churches. Other places of worship in the town are: Roman Catholic – Church of the Holy Rood, George Street; Congregational – Regent Street, Farrar Street, and Sheffield Road; Baptist – Sheffield Road and Racecommon Road; Methodist – Doncaster Road, Heelis Street, Huddersfield Road, Honeywell, and Pitt Street, Worsborough Common, and Monk Bretton; Blucher Street, Old Town, and Sheffield Road, Ardsley, Monk Bretton, and Worsborough Common; Westgate and Buckley Street, Ardsley; Blucher Street, Ardsley, and Smithies; Society of Friends – Huddersfield Road (Adult School in Wellington Street); Catholic Apostolic – Blenheim Road; Plymouth Brethren – Princess Street; Salvation Army – Wellington Street; New Church (Swedenborgian) – Parker Street; Christadelphian – York Street.’
R.Cs have recently completed new church or chapel. Religion said to retain its hold only on old and middle-aged. But practice of sending children to Sunday school seems general. A few cinemas allowed to open on Sundays, but only in aid of charities.
PUBLIC BUILDINGS. … ‘The foundation stone was laid on Thursday, 21st April, 1932, by the then Mayor, Councillor R. J. Plummer, and the building was formally opened by H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, K.G., on Thursday, 14th December, 1933….. from the designs of Messrs. Briggs and Thornley, Architects, Liverpool. The Contractors were Messrs. T. Wilkinson and Sons, of Sheffield (foundation); Mr. Chas. Smith (stonework up to ground floor); Messrs W. Thornton and Sons, Liverpool (super-structure.) The cost of the site (including demolition) was £12,445; the cost of the building was £136,252.”
From “The Official Guide to Barnsley”, issued by the authority of the Barnsley Town Council. NB. that total cost of new Town hall was £148,697 and was incurred at a time when the town admittedly needed over 2000 houses, not to mention public baths.
Corporation Baths. 9 men’s slipper baths, 6 women’s, 1 foam bath with 2 cooling rooms, 2 swimming baths, laundry etc. Charge for slipper bath, men 6d, women 4d. Unemployed are allowed baths free on certain days.
NOTES ON HOUSES
No. 12 Albert Street East. 3 up 2 down. Front room (parlour type) 15’ by 12’, back room (kitchen) about 12’ by 10’. Back room has kitchener but is almost uninhabitable owing to damp. Front room rather damp also. Cellar. No cupboard under stairs. Outside WC. Door between two downstairs rooms has fallen off hinges. Two of upstairs rooms very damp. One has no gasjet, one has gasjet not in working order. Rent 9/0½d. Family, parents and two kids age 2 years 5 months and 10 months. Total income 32/- plus some baby food from Infants Welfare Clinic. No coal allowance as income is from U.A.B. not P.A.C. Family possesses two beds but not enough bedding to cover them in winter, so sleep all four in one bed. Gas (for lighting only) reckoned as 1/3 a week. Through friend in work family are able to purchase coal at 9d a cwt.
Spring Gardens, Mapplewell. 2 up 1 down. Living room about 14’ by 12’. Kitchener. Sink in living room. 1 cupboard. Gas lighting (1d in slot.) Plaster cracking and in places has peeled off walls. No shelves in oven. Gas said to leak slightly.
Upstairs. Two rooms each 10’ by 8,’ arranged thus: Stairs have no banister at side marked AB, so that by stepping carelessly out of bed one may fall 10 feet onto stones. Dry. Dryrot in planks through which one can see into downstairs rooms. One bedroom has gasjet, one not. Four beds altogether (for 6 persons) but “one bed does nowt,” presumably for lack of bedclothes. Only old overcoats etc on bed.
House infested with bugs, but “I keeps ‘em down with sheep-dip.” Reasonably clean and tidy as far as can be in circumstances. 6 persons in house, all adults, two working. Rent 5/-. About £11 in arrears (“strike rent”) and for some weeks past have been paying extra 1/- a week towards arrears. Landlord (woman) now refuses this and has served order to quit. Tenants have been in house 22 years.
Earth road past these cottages like a muckheap and said to be almost impassable in winter. Tiny garden. Stone lavatories at ends of gardens in semi-ruinous condition.
Another, two doors away. 2 up 2 down. Living room with sink and kitchener about 16’ by 12’. Scullery about one third of size of this, without ceiling – only rafters. These let in water to such an extent as to make the room useless except as lumber room. All woodwork of kitchen rotting away and doors loose in° hinges.
2 upstairs rooms in much the same condition.
Rent 5/3. Tenant has been 23 years in house, now under orders to quit for arrears (“strike rent.”)
House in indescribable state of filth (tenant’s own doing) and furniture falling to pieces.
No. 32 Wilthorpe Crescent. Corporation house built 1921-2 under re-housing scheme. Non-parlour type.
Downstairs. Living room 16’ by 13’ with kitchener and cupboards. Scullery about 12’ by 10’ with copper, sink and draining board. Bathroom (h. and c.) and small pantry. All these have unplastered walls.
Upstairs. 1 large room with fireplace and room for 2 beds. Another about 12’ by 10’ with fireplace. Another about 8’ by 7’ without fireplace. All these rooms plastered and papered.
Electric light. W.C. and coal-hole at back of house (to be reached from outside.) Garden somewhat smaller than allotment. Poor soil. 1½d ride from town.
Rent including rates 12/3. Electricity paid for at flat rate of 8d per week plus ½d per unit (comes to 3/9 for a fortnight in winter.)
House dry and Corporation good about repairs. Tenant very satisfied.
No 23 Blucher Street. 2 up 1 down and cellar.
Downstairs. Living room about 15 square with kitchener, sink and copper. Gas lighting. Room very dark (gas estimated at 3d a day.) Walls sound. Back yard shared with whole row.
Upstairs./ Rooms smaller. Not complained of.
Family living on dole. Landlord not complained of. Constant disagreeable smells, especially in summer, from incinerator almost opposite.
Rent 6/6½ including rates.
No 27 Blucher Street. 3 up 2 down and 2 cellars. (Considered the best house in street.)
Downstairs. Living room about 14’ square with kitchener. Small kitchen with copper. Gas lighting (gas estimated at 6d a day – NB. this is lighter than the other house.)
Upstairs rooms not complained of.
Rent 8/5 including rates. Walls sound. Landlord not complained of.
Midden in back yard (very smelly in summer) has to be shared with 10 houses. Drain in gutter in front constantly overflowing and floods pavement. Corporation fail to put this right in spite of reports of it. Otherwise, no complaints.
Wortley Street. 2 up 1 down.
Downstairs. Living room about 12 by 10 with kitchener, sink and copper. Sink worn almost flat and constantly overflowing. Coal hole under stairs extending into a sort of tiny outhouse, semi-ruinous. Walls not too sound. Room very dark. Gas estimated at 4d a day.
Upstairs. Really 1 large room partitioned into two. Room nearest stairs has no door. Gas light in both rooms, fireplace in one. Walls in very bad state. Front wall of back room cracked right through. Window frames coming to pieces and have to be stuffed with bits of wood. 3 beds in these rooms. No bedclothes except overcoats, miscellaneous rags etc. Rain comes through walls in several places.
Sewer runs under house and stinks in summer. Corporation “says they can’t do nowt.” 6 people in house, 2 parents and 4 children aged 15, 14, 8 and 6. Youngest but one attending Queen’s Rd. Hospital, TB. suspected. Bugs very bad – “We can’t sleep in summer, there’s that many of them.”
Rent 5/3 including rates.
Haig’s Yard, Providence Street. 1 up 1 down and cellar.
Downstairs. Living room about 16’ by 10’ with kitchener, copper and sink. Walls fairly dry. Almost too dark to read by daylight. Gas estimated at 3d a day. Cellar door extremely dangerous.
Rent 5/- including rates. Landlord not bad. 3 persons in house, 2 adults (men) and 1 child.
Peel Street (Worsboro’ Common.) Back to Back. 2 up 2 down.
Living room about 10 feet square with kitchener, copper and sink. Other room about the same size, perhaps intended as parlour, used as bedroom. Large cellar.** 70 yards walk to lavatory. Living room very dark, the other a little less so. Used 16/6 worth of gas in 6 weeks, or about 4½d a day.
Size of upstairs room as below. 3 beds. No bedding except old coats etc. Bugs very bad – “You can’t keep ‘em down when it’s ’ot.”
Rent 5/7½ including rates. Landlord not complained of.
8 people in house. (4 beds altogether), 2 parents, 2 adult girls, (eldest 27), 1 young man and 3 children. Father and mother have 1 bed, son has another and remaining 5 share the other two.
It is said that there is always someone ill in this family. Indescribable squalor in downstairs rooms and smell of upstairs rooms almost unbearable.
*More like 8000 [handwritten note]
**These are 1 time weavers’ houses.
 Medical Officer.
 Printed slip from official report. Orwell annotated this, ‘See also additional notes on houses.’
 NB. It is a pity… N.U.W.M. | handwritten addition
 From printed official report. The listing of the Methodist chapels is reproduced as given in the original.
 This was Ellis Firth’s house; see Wigan Pier Diary, 296, 20.3.36, and CW, V, 85-86 for income and expenditure details. Peter Davison
Orwell’s notes on Barnsley. From the Complete Works, X, 347, p. 554