Working Party weekend and our first Barnsley History Day

The Friends had a very busy time over the weekend of 21-22nd February, with volunteers hard at work on site in Hemingfield on both Saturday and Sunday.

Welcome to the pit

Welcome to Hemingfield Colliery

Directors Steve and Glen were joined by a number of regular volunteers on what was another cold, but beautifully bright day on Saturday.

Teamwork

Friends and volunteers – working party in action

Many hands make mattocks light(er) work!

Many hands make mattocks light(er) work!

The day saw an early start not long after 9am, with the Friends getting stuck in to the ongoing work of clearing earth, rubble, stone and rubbish from around the side of the red-brick building that once housed electrical equipment for the pit when it was being used as a pumping station.

We were also pleased to welcome some new faces to Hemingfield. Whether just as visitors or as volunteers it is always great to meet new people who share our interest and enthusiasm in the site, its history and setting.

As ever, clearing away the detrius of the past, inevitably reveals materials we can reuse in future – especially the bricks we’re slowly digging out, cleaning up and stacking ready for re-purposing elsewhere on site. This is a common sight on the working party weekends, and some of the friends definitely have it down to a fine art!

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A couple of swift taps, chipping the coal dust-laden mortar off…

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..cleaned, stacked and saved for the future. Next!

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Barnsley History Day

On Sunday morning, just as work started at Hemingfield once more, a contingent of the Friends headed into Barnsley town centre, home to Experience Barnsley, for the Friends’ very first Barnsley History Day. Housed in the Grade II listed town hall (opened in 1933), the Friends had a great day meeting members of the public and making new connections with a number of local, family and industrial history groups from across the borough and even some from “over the border”, Wakefield way. The event was officially opened by the Mayor of Barnsley, Councillor Tim Shepherd:

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Friends Director Christine had set out our stall early on, equipped with one of the SSoA Live Project models, photographs, maps and original documents. We had plenty of materials to hand to tell the story of the pit (thus far).  Beginning at 10a.m., Christine, Phil, Chris and Keith were around during the day, representing the Friends and answering comments and queries as well as handing out leaflets, the newsletter, and (hopefullly) some wisdom all in the name of raising awareness about the site and the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery’s involvement.

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As well as Victorian documents,  there was a rolling gallery of digital images old and new, with some snaps hot off the lens from the working party on Saturday.

In addition Glen and Christine had designed and produced a Friends of Hemingfield Colliery badge which we all wore with pride on the day, and which enquirers could obtain for a very reasonable 50p.

Visitors to the Barnsley History Day

Visitors to the Barnsley History Day

Thanks to the organisers, Archives and Local Studies Manager for Barnsley Paul Stebbing and Barnsley Council’s town hall staff for making it happen. Thanks also to the Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership for their encouragement and the Wombwell History Society for sharing stories and documents about our common history, pointing the way to more local links in future. It was an enjoyable and useful day, and part of a busy weekend for the Friends.

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