Cudworth History & Heritage Trail

Cudworth has a long and fascinating history with many important landmarks like the railway and its iconic bridge now long gone. However, it’s past and legacy remain, sometimes a ghost or shadow of what it used to be, but if you know where to look, it is in many ways a window back in time to a very different world. The memories, stories and folklore of Cudworth echo through to the modern day. This history and map is a time machine that we hope will transport you to back to when the air was thick with coal dust and the roads only used by horse and cart.

Many of the buildings and houses we can see today were erected to serve the growing population of miners, railway and other workers who arrived after 1890. Cudworth is a settlement with two distinct historic centres known as Upper or Over Cudworth and Low or Nether Cudworth. We hope you enjoy walking in the footsteps of your ancestors to find out more about the history of the village.


Cudworth was a small rural hamlet before the advent of the industrial revolution. There were several small farms, which were pretty much self sustaining. By the mid 1850’s the linen industry was booming in Barnsley. Linen needed bleaching, so Henry Jackson moved his bleaching operation to Cudworth because the Sough Dike in Barnsley was badly polluted. The Midland Bleachworks at Bleachcroft Farm became the largest bleachworks in the country (For more about the linen industry see page 12 of the booklet).

With the sinking of shafts to reach deep mine coal, hundreds of workers came from every part of the country to work in them. This created a boom in the building industry as they built cheap terraced housing to accommodate incoming miners and railwaymen. The population of Cudworth in 1891 had almost doubled, to 1,607 people living in 293 dwellings. Ten years later more than 60 occupations were recorded in a variety of industries. The opening of Grimethorpe colliery produced a further increase in the population to 3,415 people. Out of a working population of approximately 1,320 men, 615 were employed in the mining industry, 215 on the railways, 42 in agriculture, 32 were bricklayers, and 18 worked at the Midland Bleachworks.

With the formation of Cudworth Urban District Council in 1900 new sewage systems, gas lighting and all kinds of services benefited the people of the village. Cudworth never had a deep mine colliery, but it certainly thrived as a dormitory village for the vast amount of men working at the nearby collieries such as Grimethorpe, Carlton, Monk Bretton and Monckton Collieries. Jobs in farming, bleaching, leather tanning, glass making, hosiery, mining and railways have long gone.


Our journey starts across from the modern day Cudworth Co-op and our community map display board, across the road at Wishes a local card and gift shop. Please be safe and follow the guidance notes whilst using this map. Children must be supervised by a responsible adult and do take care when crossing any road. For more guidance and T&Cs please see the back page.

The booklet can be viewed and downloaded here: