Working Party weekend 5th-6th September 2015

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Lighting up the past – Bright sunshine on the pumping engine house.

As reported elsewhere, the weekend of the 5th-6th September 2015 was the occasion of ‘Elsecar by the Sea’ – a celebration of all things Elsecar and a chance for the Friends to get out and about and meet local people and visitors to raise awareness of the site; however the work on site must go on, and a working party gathered on Saturday to continue the clearance activity.

Friends Chair Steve opened the site and volunteers Alan and John were on hand to assist. Seeking shade was the order of the day; the sunshine certainly hit Hemingfield this weekend.

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Blazing sunlight.

Maintaining a most exemplary straight line of clearance, the team made more progress in clearing around the side of the switchgear building.

Gates open for another working party

Looking at clearance progress and gates open for another working party

Uprooting and clearing revealed a doorstep/concrete covered plinth to the damaged side-rooms of the switchgear building. Roots and stumps were dutifully hacked back.

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The doorstep/standing. Building has older (reused?) brick on the left and newer brick on the right.

Following the kind donation of the Beedan Collection, the Friends have begun to be make a number of number of useful observations about the changing uses of the colliery sites, especially the development of the pit as a pumping station following the demolition of the screening infrastructure and the Dearne and Dove canal basin gantry. One snippet relevant to this weekend’s work was the rough dating of the front extension to the switchgear building.

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Previously this clean-bricked frontage onto the older 1890s engine house was assumed to be 1920s, at the very beginning of the transition from Earl Fitzwilliam to the South Yorkshire Pumping Association. However early site photographs now make it clear that the frontage did not exist until after 1940. This is a useful terminus a quo (a limit from which) we can date it and understand its active use on the site.

Post 1940 extension

Side-view of post-1940 frontage.

On Sunday work continued for a time, with the sun shining once more. The Friends were pleased to welcome a visitor on site, a curious passer-by intrigued to photograph the buildings, as they are now. It is our hope that such visitors will be able to return and see quite a transformation.

Elliott Brothers

Whilst wondering around the site, visitors can see glimpses of what now seem like slightly alien worlds. Odd machinery, with a maker’s name hidden away, each holding its own backstory which could be of interest. One such case of this is the Elliott Brothers electrical instrumentation, including an Ammeter (now sadly burnt following the cable theft and fire which damaged one building around 2008.). A little digging shows that Elliott Brothers were a major instrumentation supplier for such purposes. Their surviving records have been preserved and acquired by the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford which has an interesting online exhibition of Elliott Brothers instrumentation.

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