In HODs we trust
This year’s Heritage Open Days events included two full oublic open days for the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery.
Following recent open days during working party weekend, the site was cleared ready to welcome guests.
Joining a host of local heritage groups in the immediate area, across South Yorkshire, and all around England, we were pleased to open our gates to new visitors.
The first day began, slightly ominously, with rain, but it did not deter the Friends and volunteers from setting up stall, or rather pitching a gazebo under our distinctive 1940 concrete headgear.
With golf umbrellas on standby, and armed with eager tourguides, boxes of treats, and a chance to win a prize whilst supporting the Friends’ work, the group on site welcomed a steady stream of visitors who had beaten the showers to get out and enjoy some fantastic heritage locations, many of which were open together over a single weekend. Added to the excellent publicity in the local press and the ease of searching for HODs events via the official website: www.heritageopendays.org.uk there was simply no excuse not to get out and finds something old (and new!) and go and explore!
The sights for site seers
Over the weekend Friends Directors Glen, Christine, Chair Steve and volunteers Bill, John, Keith and Chris took turns in welcoming visitors, introducing them to the colliery and its surroundings and conducting them on what we hope was a lively and engaging tour of the site.
Visitors received exclusive access, going inside the buildings.
Climbing through doorways closed for years, around old machinery abandoned for decades, and looking down our two shafts where coal was won, water pumped and miners lives lived and lost through 170 years of industrial activity.
And we were rewarded with visitors coming from as far as as Scotland, Lancashire and the Home Counties, as well as just down the road.
In many ways the local and long distance travellers both serve to remind the Friends how fortunate they are to be the current custodians of the colliery site.
Whether industrial historians or local families, the is much to learn and much more to explore in and around the pit.
The questions and comments the Friends received help us ourselves to bring the pit to life and engage new audiences.
As the first day drew on, the weather cleared, and the Friends could stand by the headgear and share not just the past, but our plans for the future of the site, and the exciting heritage activities currently underway in and around Elsecar with its Heritage Action Zone status.
With a less drippy and puddlesome day, came also a chance to conduct visitors around the whole site, as well as making some headway on clearance tasks whilst awaiting new arrivals.
Down by the lineside, or Friends at the Elsecar Heritage Railway were putting on a treat for passengers: a double headed carriage service carrying visitors up and down the line, past the pit, and back to Elsecar Heritage Centre.
Good progress was made in brick reclamation and some more stump clearance. Amongst the visits scoring the site we were delighted to receive supportive comments, contributions, donations and even some potential new volunteers.
Sharing the story of the pit from 1842, through to 1920, and from 1920 to now was a pleasure.
Standing back and admiring the progress of 3 years on site, and celebrating the survival of the pit to be open for the Heritage Open Days in 2017 was a great thrill.
Sharing this site, its stories, hidden nooks and crannies and objects old, alien and intriguing continues to motivate the Friends’ work. So thank you to all our guests, visitors and new friends, and here’s to many more HODs!