AMBITIOUS plans for Penistone to get its own museum are being explored by town councillors to boost the destination as a visitor attraction.
A museum, they say, could also solve a long-running dilemma on what to do about a large-scale collection of artefacts by local military historian and author, John Ownsworth.
Monday’s meeting of the council heard that Mr Ownsworth wants to keep his life’s work in Penistone.
But Coun David Wood said he has had offers from such as Cawthorne Museum, Leeds Imperial War Museum and the Military Museum in London.
Coun Wood wants the whole membership to visit Mr Ownsworth’s home to view the wartime and military collection.
“He is keen to keep everything in Penistone,” he said. “As we are having an extension to the community centre for Penistone archives, it would be good if all of us could go to his house, meet him and his wife and see his collection.
“Lots of people have been amazed by what he has amassed in his lifetime. It is truly amazing.”
He said one item of memorabilia is a stainless steel blade made for the first jet engine by the local David Brown factory.
Chairman Gillian Millner said: “This has been brought up over the years and we have never had anywhere to house his collection.
“But we will have the extension,” said Coun Wood. “That is why I want us to go and see what he has. He has made this his life’s work. We have to get behind him and help him achieve his dream.”
Council clerk Keith Coulton said this matter had been raised before along with the question of insurance. “There were concerns regarding the safety of some of the collection and memorabilia,” he said.
Coun Millner reminded the meeting that Mr Ownsworth, who is 82, badly injured his hand off while cleaning a shell in his garage.
“Yes, but nothing has been done and he has not been given any help to stay in Penistone,” insisted Coun Wood.
Coun Carol Bradbury said: “We don’t have room at the archive - even with an extension as Penistone Archives have so much material.”
Coun Millner said: “There is a lot to consider. Whether Penistone Archives are willing to take it on and if we can get cover.”
Coun Steve Marsh was all for the idea. “We have been trying to find somewhere for years,” he said. “Most places have a museum. It doesn’t just have to be for John Ownsworth. Maybe we should look at a museum as a visitor attraction. Some of the stuff might not be allowed to be kept there but there are many items of interest.”
Coun Millner said the it might be possible to fund a scheme by way of Barnsley Council’s Principal Towns initiative.
Coun Marsh said: “There are empty areas at the town hall which might be used. And there is a lot of history in Penistone. Let’s start looking forward and do this as a project. Put it out there.”
Coun Joe Unsworth said: “This is a long-standing issue. We need to be aware of the scale of the collection and then we can look at the possibilities.”
He agreed PTI funding might be a good idea.
It was agreed councillors would go to Mr Ownsworth’s house by arrangement through Coun Wood.
Coun Marsh said: “We need to put some feelers out as to what we would need. Cawthorne, for example, has everything and our history should be on show somewhere for the younger generation as well as visitors. Make it a vision.”