32-38 Eldon Street
32-38 Eldon Street is best known as the former home of Benj Harral’s jewellers, Barnsley’s Ring Man.
However, 32 Eldon Street was originally built as a 2-storey row of 3 small shops (with storerooms above and cellars below) in 1875. 34 Eldon Street was built a few years earlier, in 1870, for a Mr John Ashworth. It had a shop on the ground floor, with living accommodation above and a cellar below.
‘Benj’ Benjamin Harral opened his first shop in 1898, at 4 Eldon Street. Benjamin was an apprentice watch maker, and made clocks, watches, jewellery and leather goods. He was a member of the Clock makers Company, one of the ancient City Guilds, and was given the freedom of the City of London. He made watches for members of the admiralty, for use in the Royal Navy. The business moved further along the street to 32 Eldon Street in around 1904. By this time the three small shops had been combined into one, and a new unified shop front was added. The business continued to grow and in 1913 the front and roof were taken off the building and a second storey workshop and decorative tiled façade were added. This included a small bay window that was designed to showcase an unusual time ball clock. In 1919 Harral’s expanded into the neighbouring property, and the upper floors were combined to create more workshop space. The business built a further extension in 1925 in the form of 36-38 Eldon Street, on the corner of the Victorian Arcade. They only ever occupied the upper floors however, with the ground floor rented to different businesses.
In the early 1950s a new shopfront was installed across the ground floor of 32 and 34 on Eldon Street, with green and white pull-out canopies above.
Generations of Barnsley couples bought their engagement and wedding rings from Benj Harral’s. When you bought a wedding ring from Harral’s in the 1950s and 1960s you were given an engraved breadknife as a wedding gift. The shop window was known for its displays and people used to make a special trip to see them. The business also operated a pawn shop and opened other branches, including in Mexborough and Pontefract. The Benj Harral clock that hangs outside the former Eldon Street shop is still a town centre landmark. The business closed in 1988.
After Harral’s closed, the Eldon Street shop was taken over by Lancaster’s Estate Agents. The tiled signage on the upper floors of number 32 was partially removed shortly after. The ground floor units are currently occupied by various independent businesses. The upper floors are empty and partially derelict.