Heritage in action

Intermission: a bright moment in the morning at Hemingfield Colliery

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

The main headgear and old brickpile on left

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).

Photo from Jan 2020 showing the brick face-off to be addressed in Feb 2020

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.

A bite at a time. Early attacking barrow-work set the pace.
Taming the beastie: there really are an awful lot of bricks, you know…I mean a LOT
Did someone shunt some back the other way? Still shrinking
Last barrows chasing one another to clear the way. Almost there!
It’s all about placement. Bricks in unison. Solidarity. In their new home.
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!  Admiring the clearer view under the headgear
Unobstructed view of the winding engine house.

And now for something completely marvellous…

Milton Hall, formerly Market Hall, servicing heritage in Elsecar add since…c.1870!

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 week of special events surrounding the HAZ project and the publication of the Historic Area Assessment by Historic England

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.

Historic England’s display providing an overview of the Historic Area Assessment report.

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.

The cover of the HAA report on Elsecar

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…?

Textile artist Gemma Nemer’s celebration of the Elsecar Heritage Action Zone in display.

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:

#ElsecarRevealed: Heritage Action Zone Project report displays in Milton Hall, with interpretation board details

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.

Banner celebrating the Newcomen Engine boiler house excavation in 2019

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.

Barnsley Archives brought a selection of Elsecar and Hoyland original archives to Milton Hall
A display of local history materials from the ‘People and Mining’ project

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.

Busy evening of heritage discovery and celebration at Milton Hall, Elsecar
The Heritage Action Zone findings have influenced new maintenance and supplementary planning guidance to protect the area and encourage sustainable and sensitive developments
Inviting feedback on the landmarks of Elsecar
Members of the community were invited to suggest their own ‘list’ of heritage gems in Elsecar
Exploring Barnsley Archives related to Elsecar
Get involved in the future! Barnsley Council and the HAZ want to hear from you!