Snatches of sunshine

A grey day in May

Continuing the effort to return to normal, or as near to normal as anyone can get during a global pandemic, the Friends and regular volunteers foregathered once again on Saturday 22nd May and – ever the optimists – endeavoured to do a little more maintenance on the site at Hemingfield after a thoroughly mixed week of rain and everything except regular sunshine.

Easy strokes in the sweep stakes

The first task is to tidy up the pavement outside the pit. Being surrounded by maturing headrows and overgrown trees, the seasons spread leaf litter, flower petals and stalks, as well as all-too-human litter thrown from passing cars and vans and hidden in the anonymity of the ‘long run’ down Wath Road to Elsecar.

With the miserable weather from March to May in 2021, the ground was wet and the leafy litter stuck to the ground. Our trusty volunteers sweep all before them, as well as striking at the weeds which have shot up in the warm-but-wet run of late.

Swept away. Keeping the front wall clear of leaves and rubbish.

A similar story awaits inside, with the grass having shot up near the gates and the rest looking like needing a strim only a week after the last cut.

May stragglers – grass starting to get a bit long from all the downpours in May 2021

At times dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) seem to be the most successful crop on site, if not throughout Yorkshire, as the hardy perennial weed seeds itself and dusts the land with seed clocks ready to start anew. Still the golden yellow colour bids a warm welcome to the brighter days ahead, even if it is a bit of a pig to strim!

Strimming in progress

Site Director Glen got to grips with the tall grass and weeds, revving up the strimmer for a busy day of buzzing back the green stuff and tidying back the pityard, ably assisted by regular volunteer Paul, barrowing away the clippings.

Neatly strimmed grass by the winding engine house

Meanwhile volunteers Chris and Mitch grabbed a ladder and pulled out the emerging shrubs and trees in the flat roof of the switchgear building.

Barrow-fulls of fun.

Taking advantage of the higher vantage point to get some closer-up views of the main 1939-40 concrete headgear.

Closer view of the main concrete headgear, May 2021

Despite the grey clouds and the threat of rain, the day proved to be warm and dry. Strimming continued and some preparatory work took place at the rear of the site, raising bricks from the fallen wall, reclaiming them ready for future rebuilding of the lower terrace boundary wall. It was a long and rather warm day’s work, but Everyone was glad to be on site. With the sunshine up above, birdsong in the air and jokes flying around, the ongoing pandemic restrictions faded for a brief moment of outdoor respite and hope.

View down across the pit top and winding engine house, and down over the railway and canal. Hemingfield can be seen on the hillside behind, May 2021

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