Happy Birthday to us!
Saturday 25th June marked the 2nd Birthday of the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery – that is two full, colourful, fun, eventful and challenging years since the Friends first took over the pit, and started the long and steady process of salvaging, clearing, conserving and researching the history of Hemingfield Colliery, from its earliest days in the 1840s, through the end of coal winding in May 1920, and into its life as a pumping station. Surviving Nationalisation in 1947 and Privatisation in 1994, its two shafts, winding engine house and Cornish engine house overlooking a purpose-built canal basin are a unique survival. And in celebrating all that’s been achieved so far, the Friends, volunteers and supporters are looking forward to the year ahead to make further progress and continue the mission of saving the site, and sharing its stories with the local community.
The Friends arrived on site bright and early, with Chair Steve, and Site Manager Glen joined by regular volunteer John. Normal working party business was put aside this week, as the Friends and volunteers welcomed visitors on site, and brought out a host of goodies to celebrate the event.
Even the Elsecar Heritage Railway provided us with a suitably celebratory display – a double header train passing by below the pit.
Open house – visitors welcome
The Friends were joined by a number of friends and visitors during the day, including noted coal historian and author Brian Elliott who shared his knowledge of the area, and documents relating to the history of the site. We were fascinated to find Brian’s book Tracing your Coalmining Ancestors includes details of an accident at Hemingfield in 1860.
Likewise, local friends and ex-miners dropped by to say hello and see progress on site, as well as hear something about the plans for the year ahead.
Regular volunteers Nigel, Amanda, Keith and Chris joined us through the day, and spirits were kept high by Friends Director Christine appearing with further victuals.
Summertime…some of the time
The Friends got ready for the 2nd anniversary event, bringing food and refreshments, chairs tables and a sunny gazebo, ready to set out books, maps, documents and photographs of the site’s history. Meanwhile the directors wheeled out the barbecue and got cooking.
It was delightful erecting the gazebo under the main shaft headgear, but inevitably, cometh the barbecue, cometh the torrential downpour…
However, seeking shelter under the headgear, the fun continued, with a birthday cake emerging to mark the event.
Congratulations to the Friends, and many thanks to the volunteers and visitors who support and contribute their time and efforts to saving this remarkable industrial survivor.