DARFIELD’S own Maurice Dobson Museum and its dedicated staff of volunteers have received a unique Proud of Barnsley nomination for their important work preserving the area’s history.
The Museum, which originally opened in 2000, is based within a restored Georgian Yeoman’s residence that was gifted to the local council by the cross dressing ex-miner the museum is now named after.
It displays everything from everyday household items of the past to special memorabilia from the namesake’s life, all run by a team made up entirely of volunteers.
Volunteer and Darfield fanatic Ken Brookes, said: “If I told you the whole story of the place it would take an hour.
“The museum was left to us by Maurice , but it ended up taking four years to sort the details of the will out.
“Jeffery Hutchinson, from the Darfield Area Amenity Society, approached the National Lottery for funding – they turned around and said that he should ask for more.”
After coming up with a business plan and hiring an English heritage architect to survey the premises, the group were granted £164,000 and began their work opening the property to the public.
While the museum displays a variety of items, it’s crowning achievement according to Ken is the Rag and Chain pump from the 1520s, historically used to remove water from mining areas.
Ken is a fountain of knowledge on everything within the museum, and goes above and beyond to support it – showing up every day it is open and hosting guest talks about the area.
He and the other volunteers also host a variety of strange activities, the most recent being when Ian McMillan gave a comedy tour of Darfield explaining how Elvis allegedly visited.
“We all enjoy it here or we wouldn’t come,” Ken added.
“I first got involved in 2007 when I retired, it gave me something to do and I always liked coming in – I love Darfield, I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.”
The location was nominated by Coun Kevin Osborne, who said: “The Maurice Dobson Museum – and the hard working volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes – offer an insight to a bygone age.
“It certainly must be the only museum in the world named after a gay ex-miner.
“The museum is the epitome of ‘small but perfectly formed’ – don’t let it’s size fool you though, every visit you’ll see something new.
“These aren’t dusty artefacts from across the world collected by wealthy Victorians, these are the mundane everyday objects we all had or knew, and each one tells a story.
“When you pop in you’ll never know what you’ll see or hear, a Yorkshire pudding-throwing competition, tales of when Elvis visited Darfield or Morris Men dancing with handkerchiefs.
“Volunteering, community, education and entertainment – blend them up in Darfield Museum and you have a worthy Proud of Barnsley nomination.”