Fitting perfectly into a 10-3 break in the weekend’s wet and windy weather, the Friends managed to pack in a substantial day’s work on site.
Open Access on Open Days
They also gave a very warm welcome to three sets of visitors throughout the day. Our gates are thrown wide open on Open Days for visitors to explore, and our guests to benefit from the knowledge and insights of the volunteers; we explain a little of the history, show the surviving heritage, and cover the future plans for the former colliery.
Minecraft…but with bricks
Site Manager Glen opened up the gates to greet regular volunteers Chris, Paul, John and Keith. The briefing for the day highlighted some continuing problems with trespassers (why they don’t just and visit on an open day when they could see more is a mystery. Well, almost).
Some site intruders have recently done further damage to the site and materials, and so in order to help prevent this and reduce hiding places the team tool on a remarkable challenge: to move the old massive pile of bricks away from the winding engine house and over to the other side of the headgear with the more recent stacks of reclaimed bricks.
Cue an epic photo-montage of the herculean task of shifting tonnes of bricks across the pit yard, revealing the full frontage of the winding engine house for the first time since 2017.
And now for something completely marvellous…
Earlier in the week the Friends were delighted to attend a very special event in Elsecar. On Thursday 20th February 2020 between 6-8pm Historic England and Barnsley Museums hosted a special event in Milton Hall, #ElsecarRevealed.
This epic project, which has been supported by the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery, and has spurred on our own investigations as part of our Hemingfield’s Hidden Histories, National Lottery Heritage Fund Project, is a true celebration of the history and development of Elsecar and a very detailed assessment of the significance of its surviving built heritage.
The evening was a chance to celebrate the work of the Heritage Action Zone over the last three years, and to see the wonderful results of many months of archival, archaeological and architectural research in and around the village.
The report, available here, was written jointly by three of HE’s resident experts: Dave Went, Archaeological Investigations Manager, together with Lucy Jessop and Jayne Rimmer, both Senior Investigators. Their work, together with aerial photography and geophysics from Historic England’s national resources, ably supported by Dr Tegwen Roberts, Elsecar’s very own Heritage Action Zone Officer, have produced a detailed and enlightening study of the history development and significance of Elsecar from the 16th -21st century.
Heavily illustrated with historical maps, documentary evidence and site analysis, this report opens a whole new window on Elsecar’s heritage, the people, places and chances which transformed the village in the Eighteenth Century.
HAZ you heard…?
Barnsley Museums Project Officer Dr John Tanner began the proceedings, welcoming attendees from near and far, and setting the scene for the renewed focus and recognition the Heritage Action Zone work has brought to Elsecar and the surrounding area. Celebrating the new opportunities working with Historic England had brought about for Barnsley’s own heritage, he introduced Dr Tegwen Roberts the HAZ Project Officer.
Dr Roberts discussed the Heritage Action Zone Project, focussing on new work carried out within the HAZ area. In addition to the report itself, evidence of the Project activities could be viewed around the hall that evening:
Information and images from new research, descriptions of the community archaeology events at Milton forge, and working with school groups at the Newcomen engine boiler house.
Dr Roberts then introduced Dr Lucy Jessop, architectural expert and Senior Investigator from Historic England who spoke enthusiastically about the positive experience of the HE team in exploring Elsecar’s past and learning from its present community who welcomed them, even into their homes to explore the built environment and to assess the significance of the built heritage. This work has informed the detailed analysis of the different sub-areas of the overall Heritage Action Zone.
Encouraging visitors to ask questions and explore the displays in the hall, everyone then proceeded to walk around Milton Hall and discuss the archival displays from Barnsley Archives, the Historic England report stand, and the Planning and future development tables placed around the hall asking for community feedback on how they wanted to see the heritage celebrated, protected and the opportunities seized for the future development of Elsecar as a heritage attraction in its own right.
The hall was busy with members of the local community eager to learn more, to see the photographs and maps and discuss the new insights from the HAZ Project work and chip in ideas to assist Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council’s future development plans for the area. In addition to Council staff, local historians and heritage groups were in attendance with materials on show.