February by name was not February by nature this weekend as bright sun and blue skies, with the odd cloud, welcomed the Friends and regular volunteers on site for another Open Day down at the pit.
Friends Chair Steve and Site Manager Glen opened the gates to welcome regular volunteers John, Paul, Keith and Chris.
First things first, a quick check on the boundary wall by the bus stop next to the Pit Row entrance to Hemingfield Colliery.
Once again an unwelcome visitor had picked away at the wall with some further criminal damage, removing some bricks. Tidying things up, the Friends are saddened by such acts of vandalism, but have plans to rebuild the wall; in the meantime it is being reinforced with fencing, so the damage is futile anyway.
This weekend the crew were continuing to work on the lower terrace’s retaining wall, clearing space at the foot of the wall to inspect its condition, as well as prepare the way for making it safe for future rebuilding works where some collapse has occurred or stonework has eroded and the mortar deteriorated.
It was very much all hands on deck from the Friends clearing the undergrowth. Our special thanks to our friends and partners at Elsecar Heritage Railway who have greatly assisted with removing stumps and logging along the fringe of the railway curtilage.
Clearance is always an arduous but rewarding task on a neglected industrial heritage site. Arduous as unchecked growth of trees and bushes can take some serious hacking, hauling and stacking; rewarding as whatever you reveal or encounter along the ways usually poses new questions and provides insights into the site you thought you knew so well already.
With spades, shovels, picks and hatchets at hand, the overbearing undergrowth is slowly pulled away, revealing what? Rubble, the odd discarded railway sleeper, a strange concrete structure and some intriguing features in the wall.
Hacking and stacking down by the railway was a busy day’s work, and there’s plenty more to do to re-find the original ground level. The base of the wall is rather boggy too, so the water drainage appears to have been disrupted, or more water is being emitted than previously, probably the former is the case which will need further attention from the Friends.
One last task for the day. After the cable theft and subsequent fire damage in the switchgear building in the 2000s, it seems elements of roofing, drainpipe and other materials were stripped out and taken for scrap value. Included in this was some of the roof flashings and gutter trim. After the 2016 repair done to our winding engine house roof, we had some small bits of flashing left over, so the Friends decided to prevent further water damage to the wall by reinserting some sheeting to the flat roof drain.
A nice and neat job with a ladder later and the site is protected a little more.
In other news – read all about us!
The new year also sees the Friends group reaching out to the community to invite others to come and join our activities. Thanks to Barnsley Museums our open days are now part of their listed activities in the Barnsley Museums What’s On Guide for Jan-March 2019.