The Northern College has one of the most beautiful and impressive settings in the north of England. It is located at Wentworth Castle, Stainborough, just three and a half miles from Barnsley town centre. Wentworth Castle was the home of the Earls of Strafford during the 18th century, when most of the existing buildings on the site were built, and the gardens and surrounding park were designed. The main house is a Grade 1 listed building of outstanding historical importance and is surrounded by the only Grade 1 listed landscape in South Yorkshire.
Its thirty-eight acres of grounds and gardens are of outstanding botanical and environmental interest. The gardens contain many varieties of rhododendron, camellia, magnolia and other Asiatic flowering plants, as well as native European species, and in May and June each year their dazzling blooms attract many visitors. Together with the surrounding park and woodland, they make up an important habitat for birds, insects, small mammals, fungi and wildflowers.
Wentworth Castle has been used for educational purposes since it was sold to the Barnsley local authority in the late 1940s, and modern teaching and residential accommodation blocks have been added to the site. A new phase of conversion and building is now beginning to improve existing facilities, and provide for planned future expansion.
The Metropolitan Borough of Barnsley consists of the town of Barnsley itself, and a number of surrounding towns and villages, whose total population is 230,000. The area has a long history, and its traditional industries have been coal-mining, agriculture, glass manufacture, iron and steel work and engineering. Coal-mining was the dominant industry until the 1980s. In 1984, British Coal provided 20,000 jobs in Barnsley. The closure of the deep mines in the area since then has transformed many aspects of life. Barnsley, like its near neighbours Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster, is a town undergoing large-scale economic and cultural change.
Barnsley's position on the M1 gives quick and easy road and rail links to Sheffield, Leeds, Bradford and Manchester. Close to the Pennine foothills and on the edge of Derbyshire's Peak National Park, it is surrounded by countryside of outstanding natural beauty, frequented by ramblers, walkers and naturalists.
Barnsley can boast a number of country parks and industrial visitor sites of notable interest, including the Elsecar Heritage site, Worsborough Mill, and Cannon Hall Park and Museum. In the town centre, the Cooper Gallery and the Central Library provide fine public facilities. The Metrodome complex offers a modern swimming, physical recreation and social centre, while the Dorothy Hyman Centre at Cudworth boasts an all-weather running track which is home to a number of clubs and ensures that a regular supply of good class athletes are produced in Barnsley.
The town centre precinct and new Alhambra Shopping Centre give a wide choice and easy access to a range of shops, while preserving the character and traditions of Barnsley's famous covered market.