Maison Du Biere, Elsecar: The one-of-a-kind Yorkshire pub which is a real find at Elsecar Heritage Centre

Right in the centre of what used to be the Earl Fitzwilliam’s fiefdom, is a building that once served as workshops to the crucible of Yorkshire’s industrial revolution.

Several centuries back, his Lordship (and his advisors) saw the potential in a chunk of land that lay on the edge of his vast estates in the south of the county.

It sat right on a vast seam of coal, and there were others nearby. The Earl (by all accounts an enlightened man in a society of greedy oafs) decreed that not only would he mine here, but that a complete complex should be built around the pit head.

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There would be forges, carpenter’s shops, transportation (first a canal and then a railway branch line) and everything that the industrial age demanded - including some decent housing for the workers.

Maison du Biere in Elsecar Heritage CentreMaison du Biere in Elsecar Heritage Centre
Maison du Biere in Elsecar Heritage Centre

Today, the place is a thriving Heritage Centre, and it not only tells the story of the location, giving visitors an insight into how their ancestors toiled, but also a wide variety of things to enjoy.

There’s the antiques centre, craft outlets, a remarkable good framing service, cafes, and much else besides.

Did I mention a pub? You have to mention the pub. Well, it’s actually a pub-cum-bar, and it’s located in that workshop.

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Two storage areas to left and right, a comfortably appointed central room with the bar counter, and another room where beers, ales and ciders from around the globe are stacked and stored.

If you are sitting on one of the many tables in the exterior courtyard (ringed with colourful planters) you may well hear a sort of “clack, clack” noise in the background.

It is the sound of jaws dropping in astonishment as customers go over the threshold, for there are over six hundred bottles, flagons, cans, containers for sale.

That serves repeating. Six hundred.

At the bar, there are always around two dozen ales and ciders on offer, with lighter ones for the summer, graded through to “winter warmers” when the nights draw in.

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No food – except snacks for both canine and human customers – but, if you buy your refreshments here, the management are only too happy for you to nibble away at your own sandwiches, or whatever may take your foodie fancy.

There’s also a good selection of spirits, but wine is confined to (as the charmingly landlady Jenny put it) “red, white and pink”. The white (a very good Sauvignon) is blastingly good value, served in a glass that some lesser pubs would regard as a bucket.

The Maison demonstrates both ingenuity and enterprise. It’s no-nonsense, always popular, a haven of hospitality, and the owners can talk knowledgeably and enthusiastically for hours about their products.

If you’ve found an antique or collectible bargain, where better to celebrate? If you haven’t, what the heck, have a few drinks anyway. A one-off, and a real find.

Maison Du Biere, Elsecar Heritage Centre, Barnsley. Tel 01226 805255, Opening hours vary.