Storm force from Hemingfield, or the Shipping Forecast.

What with Storm Ciara (pronounced keera) threatening proceedings, and suggestions of Storm Dennis barely a week away, the Friends threw caution to the – admittedly light – wind on Saturday 8th February 2020, and ventured down to site for a surprisingly storm-free open day at Hemingfield Colliery.

Opening the gates was Site Director Glen, joined by regular volunteers John, Paul and Keith. The weather here was perfect, and in fact the day saw lots of visitors drop-in to see the site.

We love to meet new visitors and hear from anyone interested in the history or the family connection to this remarkable place, and it is a great way to really kick-start what we hope will be a busy and eventful year for the group and for the local area.

This is the start of a wider programme of open days as we hope to start showing visitors the work underway as part of our Hemingfield’s Hidden Histories project, a National Lottery Heritage Fund project, made possible thanks to National Lottery players.

Snippet in the Barnsley Chronicle from 24/1/20, p.12, mentioning the Open Day.

Part of the project, after securing the purchase of Pump House Cottage, and then repairing the leaky roof and internal conditions, will include opening the whole site up to visitors, local people and new audiences who wish to engage with their local heritage.

Much work will be needed to improve access and to level ground within the site to make it more easily accessible to visitors of all ages and experiences.

Open hearts vs closed minds?

On the downside, once again the Friends have been the victims of mindless vandalism – someone had put a brick through the rear window of the on-site caravan and other attempted damage was clear to see. We were certainly amongst the many hopefully local people to hear that a Neighbourhood Policing Team would be re-siting back to the Hoyland Police Station as a regular presence.

The (fall) pipes are calling

The working party today was mainly focused on drainage – in anticipation of a deluge, antedeluvian preparations included digging out and clearing the somewhat lost drains. Since the site’s successful roof restoration project in the winter of 2016-17, we have been looking forward to finishing off the guttering work by terminating the fall pipes to properly protect our winding engine house.

Image of winding engine house before roof restoration (scaffolded and damaged roof)
Before: engine house roof – scaffolding around collapsing roof and in-growing tree
After roof restoration - just need to finish the fall pipes from the renewed guttering
After: roof repaired, fall pipes to be finished

The crew terminated 3 of the 4 fall pipes from the gutters on the winding house, and further investigation on the drainage of a further pipe required some nifty redirection of the flow to prevent water damage to the stonework. With buildings made of relatively soft local sandstone, this is a challenge, but the results of their work would receive a severe test on the following day, Sunday, with weather warnings, flood alerts and nationwide railway speed restrictions.

Rough Forecasts Foretold

A glance over our shoulder to the past reminds us how susceptible industry could be to passing storms of the past.

The storm in the District.

Hoyland Nether. – The most serious damage in this township has been sustained by the owner of the Hoyland Silkstone Colliery, better known as Vizard’s Colliery. A large wall, ten or twelve feet high and twenty or thirty feet long, was blown over, and fell upon four new boilers, but without doing them any serious injury. Part of the roof of the large new engine house was taken off, and many of the old works were damaged. The windows in the engine house were also smashed. it was with the greatest difficulty that the menu could be drawn out of the pit, the wind every now and then threatening to blow up the rope off the pulley. The pit was laid idle on both Tuesday and Wednesday and the damage alone will amount to £50. At the brick works of Mr J.K. Brown, near Milton Iron Works, a large chimney was blown down, and in Reform-row, Elsecar, several houses were partly un-roofed. At Platts Common the damage was considerable. Barnsley Chronicle, 20th Dec 1873, p.2

All at Sea at Tingle Bridge.

Moving onto something old, but definitely new – a series of histories and tales of the unexpected linked to Hemingfield.

The Friends are delighted to welcome a contribution from local researcher and volunteer Glenda Sheppard on Hemingfield’s maritime connections, and the hidden lives revealed through a series of short histories. We begin with a mariner of sorts and a handsome working boat tied to Hemingfield, as illustrated below; we hope you enjoy this gem of Hemingfield Colliery’s hidden commercial canal navigation history.

ALBERT BROOK (1859-1942) Master of the Annie Forlander (REG 26)

Painted in 1914 this picture of the Humber sloop, Annie Forlander was gifted by Mr A. Brook, and is now in the Louth Museum

In 1861 his father is master of a river Boat working with his son Bennet.

In the 1881 census we see the family undertaking quite varied occupations. Living at 22 Commercial Road, Louth. Albert Brook is a master tailor, Lucy Brook his wife, Albert Brook junior, a tailor, and Annie Fallander Brook his sister after whom he later named his his working boat, a Humber sloop.

In 1882 Albert Brook married Mary Ann Humberston in Louth. In 1891 they were living at 4 Norfolk Place, Eastfield Road, Louth. Albert then owned his own boat, the Annie Forlander, Reg 26. In 1901 the Census showed Albert Brook docked at the Hemingfield Basin, by Hemingfield Colliery.

By the time of the 1939 Register, Albert had retired, and was living at 2 River Head Terrace, Louth, sharing his home with 3 wartime evacuees: Catherine Dickinson, Rosemary Dickinson, and Colleen Dickinson.

He lived a long life, passing away in 1942 aged 82 years old.

THOMAS EDWARD WILKINSON 1854 – ?? Urban District Canal Labourer

In 1861, at the age of 7, Thomas can be found living at Cudworth with Harriet Shaw, housekeeper/servant, to Joseph Thewlis, a blacksmith/grocer. They were with Mary Wilkinson, aged 20, and James Wilkinson.

In 1888 he married Mary Ann Brabbin in Bolton, Lancashire. They had a family of 9 children. In 1891 Thomas was living at Royston Lane, Cudworth working as a butcher/farmer with his wife and daughter, Mary Jane, aged 1.

The census in 1901 shows Thomas had moved to the Hoyland area and was employed by the Urban District Council as a canal labourer. At home were his wife Mary, Francis James, Mary Jane, Thomas Edwin, Jesse and Hannah Wilkinson.

In 1911 they were still residing in the Hoyland area and he was employed as a labourer, a scavenger. His son Francis James was a moulder at an iron foundry. Mary Jane was at home. Thomas Edwin was employed in the mining industry as a colliery trammer. Jesse was at home whilst Hannah, Henry and George were scholars. They were then caring for their grandson George.

More histories and personal stories connected to the pit and its working life will follow in future – please do get in touch if you know of a connection.