A BLUE plaque commemorating George Orwell’s Barnsley links is set to be unveiled to the public later today - much to the delight of those at the Barnsley Civic Trust who have worked tirelessly to ensure the event goes ahead.

Orwell stayed in Barnsley during 1936 to see for himself the living conditions of working class people.

He stayed on Agnes Terrace - which runs between Day Street and Pond Street, off Agnes Road - with the Gray family and his experiences were to form part of his book, ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’.

Orwell’s stay in Barnsley wasn’t long, but it is clear that he had a good experience with the Grays in Agnes Terrace and spoke of his time there with affection.

He noted that ‘the house is very clean and decent and my room the best I have had in lodgings up here’.

However, the horror of the slum housing in Barnsley which Orwell painstakingly researched and carefully documented in his novel makes grim reading.

He also refers frequently to his admiration for the miners he met and, from his time spent in collieries at Wentworth, Stainborough and Grimethorpe.

He also wrote of his ‘frightful exhaustion’ with miners running, bent double, in places where he could barely stagger.

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Unveiling the plaque at 2.30pm will be Orwell’s son, Richard Blair, with the Orwell Society’s chair Quentin Kopp.

Mr Kopp said: “We are delighted that Orwell’s time and work in Barnsley and the surrounding areas are receiving this recognition.

“While Wigan has, because of the book’s title, received deserved attention, Barnsley and elsewhere in South Yorkshire have not received equally deserved recognition.

Orwell’s visits to local mines highlighted the huge difference between mines in South Yorkshire and those in the Wigan area, which had not received as much investment, but despite the investment they were still hugely demanding work environments.”

Retired English literature teacher and local history writer Edana Guest has led the project to mark Orwell’s connection to Barnsley and her interest has been both professional and personal.

She told the Chronicle: “Orwell’s most famous novel, ‘1984’, has given us such terms as Big Brother, Room 101, the thought police and the notion of ‘fake news’.

“The concepts of bullying and the abuse of power are easily recognisable themes in ‘Animal Farm’ which has been read and enjoyed by many children in Barnsley schools over the years.

“My first home was the house where my mother grew up at the bottom of St John’s Road close to where Orwell stayed.

“In 1936 my mother would have been six, and would have been walking to and from school on Agnes Road passing the end of Agnes Terrace every day.

“Did she pass Orwell and notice the striking figure of one of the most iconic writers of the 20th century, on his brief stay in her home town?

“I would like to think so.”

Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis has long been an admirer of the work at the Barnsley Civic Trust.

He added: “George Orwell is undoubtedly one of the finest writers of the twentieth century and immortalising his stay here in Barnsley is an excellent idea.

“I want to say particular thanks to Edana Guest and Barnsley Civic Trust for making this happen and for their ongoing work to preserve our heritage.”

Edana will be giving a presentation on Orwell’s time in Barnsley, prior to the unveiling, at the Miners’ Hall, NUM Headquarters, Victoria Road starting at 1pm.