Settling back into the routine of normal Open Days as the good weather continued, the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery welcomed a good group of volunteers and visitors to the site. Site Director Glen, and Friends Chair Steve opened the gates to regular volunteers Nigel, Alan, John, Paul, Keith, together with our Peak district friends John, Chris and Phil. It was a full house, and with effort to spare, the team continued work on excavating the pit at the rear of the winding engine house.
Getting to the bottom of the issue
Continuing where the previous sessions had left off, with the assistance of additional hands, the inspection pit feature could be more closely inspected and its features examined. After initially suspecting the floor surface of the pit had been reached, some further towel work indicated that in fact the floor surface remained further down, and so, whilst recording the work to date, the excavation carefully removed the top layers.
As ever, with careful work, the Friends are equally keen to reclaim materials from rubble found in demolition fill, and the brick clean-up crew continue to work their magic, alongside the pile of reclaimed stone masonry.
Visitors – Sharing the stories
Later in the day, volunteer Chris joined the group and welcomed some new visitors to the area who had made contact through the website and were interested in discovering more about local mining heritage. Sharing some of the documents and information from our historical research is always a pleasure, and we were glad to assist in exploring the potential record sources for mining communities in South Yorkshire.
Elsecar Canal Blitz – Litter pick
In the Afternoon, Glen, and Paul were joined by Friends Director of Volunteering Christine, and local volunteer Andy, to represent the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery as they take part in the regular Elsecar Canal litter pick organised by Elsecar Heritage Centre, together with the Barnsley South Area Tidy Team.
This community pick event started in the morning at 10am from the Elsecar Canal Basin, and continued in the afternoon after 1pm as the volunteers made their way from Elsecar towards Cortonwood to try and make good the more careless littering, trolley dumping and general nuisances that detract from the towpath walk.
Rounding off a good day
Reviewing progress from the excavation, a hard stone floor surface emerged at the top end of the pit, and a number of deliberate holes in the dividing walls. Although the elements seem to echo the photographic interpretation we have from a 1921 image of the site, suggesting an inspection pit for some sort of boiler plant, the specific function of the space remains mysterious.
At the end of the day, just as the team were packing up, they caught a glimpse of how nature tends to make the best of tricky environments, even in industrial sites…