The May Day bank holiday weekend saw a busy day down at Hemingfield Colliery, as the Friends and a good crew of volunteers arrived on site, thankfully blessed with a bright and pleasant day.
On the Fence? To the pallisades!
Site manager Glen, together with Friends Chair Steve welcomed a host of familiar faces to site, John, John, Chris, Keith, Alan, Nigel to name but a few. Tooled up to continue the fencing of the site, half the crew made for the boundary to clear a line for fence posts and panels. Meanwhile the industrial archaeologists in the group headed down to the lower terrace to dig more of the surface which is revealing original colliery stonework and – you’ve guessed it – more bricks.
Blocking the way was, as you might expect, a recalcitrant hawthorn stump, so John and Alan had at it, whilst others measured up the fence posts and panels ready to fill the gap. Securing the site continues to be an important part of protecting the physical remains of the colliery site and environs, and also enables us to prepare the pit for future visitors.
Teamwork was the order of the day as digging, lifting, cement mixing and final adjustments all come into play when erecting a fence to follow the lie of the land. The panels are, it must be conceded, large, cumbersome, and very heavy, so careful handling and concentration was required. Wags on site echoing Paul and Barry Chuckle were given nul points for originality!
With shovels, trowels and buckets at the ready, and with many years of industrial archaeology under their belts, the lower terrace diggers got to work revealing more of the stonework surface, and some as yet undetermined brick structures.
Over lunch, the Friends discussed plans for the year ahead, with a busy programme of events to attend as we move further into summer and the warmer weather. Christine, Director of Community Engagement and Volunteering set out a number of plans to engage the local community and to spread the story of Hemingfield Colliery, as well as the energy and creativity of the Friends and volunteers to the widest possible audience. With recent developments in the Elsecar valley, there are many opportunities to explore, and the next 2-5 years will hopefully see a host of developments which we hope to support and extend.
With the prospect of a long Bank Holiday weekend, the tone of the work was upbeat and the by end of the day the lower level was looking much neater and we continue to make progress on exploring and recording the archaeology on site.
Right at the very end of the day, as the volunteers headed home, a late visitor decided to make an appearance. The female pheasant explored the site at length, and appeared to take particular interest in our 1939 concrete headgear, before heading down to the canal side to enjoy the TransPennine Trail, no doubt.
Elsecar Heritage Railway Beer Festival
A representative contingent from the Friends, Directors and volunteers alike, attended as the reader would expect, and sampled the produce, coming as it did in thirds, halves and pints. Enjoying good company, live music, food, and the sight of a working steam railway in the heart of our green and pleasant valley.
- How do coal and beer come together, you might ask? Well both certainly played some part in fueling industry, and it’s always good to honour tradition. Failing that, and if you prefer a modern spin:
Meanwhile, off-site, artist Iain Nicholls continues his excellent work on developing a virtual reality model of the pit top and part of the underground roads of Hemingfield Colliery as it was when working coal at the turn of twentieth century.
In some further sneak peaks at the striking visuals and (trust us) atmospheric sounds, we’re very much looking forward to experiencing the pit in VR and sharing it with others in the months ahead.