Barnsley's centre for the offbeat and quirky

A set of felt figures with faces made from newspaper clippings
A set of felt figures with faces made from newspaper clippings
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I became a regular visitor to the Barnsley Antiques Centre when it opened at the end of 2014 as it is only a slight diversion on my shopping trips or visits to Hoyland and Elsecar (my roots), writes historian Jane Ainsworth.

Barnsley has several very good antiques centres but this is my favourite as the owners Rachel and Daniel Parker demonstrate much imagination (and eccentricity) in how items are displayed.

A 24-hour Barnsley radio clock

A 24-hour Barnsley radio clock

I am especially interested in memorabilia connected with Barnsley and the First World War and enjoy interesting conversations with the owners and Daniel’s mother Mari, who helps in the centre.

Daniel was born in Barnsley Hospital, although his family lived in Sandal until he was 16. He started collecting Troika pottery at the age of 10 and has since built up a fine collection of Barnsley art and antiques.

I recently learned that he has some Graham Ibbeson sculptures including Barnsley Basher that proved popular in Switzerland of all places.

I am quite envious as I really like Graham’s work and the sculpture that he has designed for the new memorial for the Oaks Colliery Disaster is very poignant and beautiful.

A monkey that was once part of a larger display

A monkey that was once part of a larger display

I bought one of the resin maquettes and it has pride of place over our fireplace in memory of my father’s mining family, although none of them were killed in the Oaks disaster.

Fundraising is still underway if anyone would like to contribute and it is hoped the new memorial can be erected in time for the 150th anniversary in December.

Daniel also recently purchased a very early oil painting by Barnsley artist Abel Hold – an impressive landscape created when he was only 15 years old!

The painting is in the process of being cleaned, after which I hope that it might be displayed for a period in Cawthorne Victoria Jubiliee Museum, alongside their excellent collection of paintings by Abel Hold and other members of his family, so that local people can view it.

Daniel and Rachel have sold a wide range of weird and wonderful objects, ranging in price from about 50p to thousands of pounds.

Items for sale at present include a Barnsley clock.

There have been many strange happenings in Barnsley Antique Centre and the Daily Star named it “possibly Britain’s most haunted shop.”

Staff and customers have experienced poltergeists and seen ghosts – CCTV clips can be watched on YouTube.

An expert came from London to carry out tests and a TV film crew has even visited from Japan!

Last year I was drawn to a case displaying a collection of about 60 very small hand-made figures in historical costumes.

No information was available about who had created them so carefully or why,how old they were or even if they were local to Barnsley, but they are in excellent condition.

I am particularly fascinated by what seems to be either a courtroom scene or chapel congregation as someone has meticulously cut out faces from newspapers and stuck them on.

When the seller drastically reduced the price for the collection, I bought it to display at home and in the hope of finding out more about it.

It certainly makes a good talking point for friends and family who visit us.

If any readers recognise these figures, or even any of the faces stuck on, I would love to hear from you.

Barnsley Antiques Centre is located in the basement of 16 Doncaster Road, Barnsley, and it is open daily except Thursdays from 10am to 4pm.