Catching up!

This week’s publication of the blog will include an update from the group’s last two visits on site; 26th February and 5th March 2022.

Switchgear building and headgear basking in the sun 26.02.22 (Credit. Mitchell Sutherland)

Last Saturday 5th March saw the group arrive on site eager to get as much work done as possible. Thanks to Storm Malik, Corrie and Eunice the group hadn’t been to the colliery for three weeks. Although, every cloud has a silver lining and the downpours that had occurred over recent weeks had helped settle the recently deposited topsoil over the car park. 

The first job of the day as always is to sweep the pavement leading to the front gates, along Wath road. A much simpler task at this time of year thanks to the majority of leaf litter having been swept away in previous weeks, both manually by hand and automatically with the wind!

The view along Wath road 26.02.22 (Credit. Mitchell Sutherland)

Following a debriefing of the jobs at hand, shutters were opened throughout the site and tools were soon at hand. Wheelbarrows and shovels have become a regular occurrence since December, and once again, they were out for another appearance. 

One barrow was used to collect broken pieces of bricks that were strewn around the site car park, the other barrow back at the remnants of the topsoil heap next to the main gates. Following continuous work on levelling out the car park, this week’s focus would turn to the uneven entrances of the switchgear building. 

Throughout the group’s tenure of the site, various excavations have left this area uneven, with metal plates used as a bridge over the original concrete trenches used to house electrical cables. 

Using rubble to fill the cavities means that if the trenches are ever needed, a simple job of removing a layer of topsoil and removing the rubble is all that awaits.

Newly filled trench, complete with the first barrow load of dirt (Credit. Mitchell Sutherland)

Following the trenches being filled, shovels were swinging to fill the barrows with topsoil from the heap. Carefully being dispersed around the two entrances to the switchgear building before being raked into a gentle gradient. Another simple job that greatens accessibility to the further areas of the site. 

With the first task complete, attention could turn back to the car park. Raking out remaining pieces of stone and slate was the job at hand, reducing the risk of punctures to the cars of volunteers and visitors alike. 

Soon enough Glen, Paul, Chris and Mitch had developed a system of rakers, shovelers and barrow-pushers. Working from the switchgear building towards the concrete pad, slowly but surely the majority of remaining rubble had been removed from the newly levelled car park.

At the opposite end of the site, in the Pump House Garden, Janet and Jeff were accompanied by Ken, another volunteer keen to put some work into helping reclaim the garden from Mother Nature. 

The task at hand is still trenching out the new pathways that will run through the garden. Creating a path that will go through the middle of the garden, straight towards the rest of the site. 

Throughout the day the sprawling roots of the cherry trees became a major obstacle, some so thick that the handsaw became a necessity and a real fight ensued to uproot them. 

Trenching continues (Credit. Mitchell Sutherland)

Removing old pieces of pathway was also a task in hand; when wet, the moss-covered stone pieces become slippery, causing risk to anyone who may walk over them. 

With much of the original path missing, a group decision was made to begin removing the stonework to be later replaced with the same materials that will be used for the path currently being excavated. 

Throughout the day, as always, steady progress was made across the site. Following a lengthy spell of no visits, a look at what has been achieved so far this year was greatly received throughout the group. 

Thursday 3rd March 2022 – Reaching out. 

On Thursday evening, in the function room of The Crown Inn, Greasbrough; Regular volunteers Chris and Mitch attended a meeting with Greasbrough Community Historical Society (GCHS) to show them a presentation introducing the group, the history of Hemingfield and what the future may hold. This is key new area of activity for us, hopefully post-pandemic lockdowns, it will enable us to share our stories with new audiences and arrange other activities as part of delivery on the aims of our Hemingfield’s Hidden History National Lottery Heritage Fund project.

Along with the presentation, Chris and Mitch took a few pieces from our archive collection with them, that included: 

  • Low Stubbin Employment Book
  • Reproduced 1907 map of the Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire coalfield
  • Reproduced 1805 map of South Yorkshire
  • Yorkshire Miners Association price lists book

Approximately 20 people were in attendance for the meeting, with the presentation being well received throughout. Spending an hour presenting and answering any questions the Historical Society may have. 

Saturday 5th March 2022 – getting to the root of the problem. 

Following a week of uncertain weather forecasts, Friday evening’s predictions gave the group the green light to open the old iron gates to the site early on Saturday morning. 

At around 09:45, Paul and Mitch arrived earlier than usual, keen to take advantage of there being nobody else on site.

A mossy concrete pad (Credit. Mitchell Sutherland)

The first task at hand was to remove the gradual build up of moss on the concrete pad. When wet, the moss becomes slippery and becomes a risk to anyone using the concrete pad for car parking. 

Using a shovel and sweeping brush, the numerous clusters of moss had soon been removed and any remnants were swept away. 

A simple job only possible with reduced numbers within the car park. 

A moss-free concrete pad (Credit. Chris Jones)

As the clock struck 10:00 the regular parade of volunteers commenced through the front gates. An addition to the group for a second week running saw Jamie join the team, ready to tackle any job at hand.

Following the usual early morning catch up, the group were ready for a quick debriefing of the tasks in hand for the day. 

Throughout the process of dispersing the topsoil heap, a small section that separates the heap from the front wall has been left untouched. This area is now slightly higher than where the rest of the site lies. 

This week, the task was to level this area to where the heap once sat. Keen to get started, the pickaxe, shovel and rakes were collected and elbow grease was applied. 

Shortly into the day, a deep rooted problem became clear! One of the last remaining tree stumps calling site home, was sat right in the area planned for grading. It’s sprawling roots causing problems for any of the tools being worked with.

Agreeing to leave the grading for another open day, a group effort was soon being put in to dig out around the stump, revealing the roots – ready to be cut with a hatchet and garden saw to hand. 

Slow yet steady progression through the day saw the whole stump and parts of the roots unveiled, ready for the hacking to commence following a lunch break.

Newly graded section (Credit. Mitchell Sutherland)

Within the tranquility of the Pump House Cottage garden, Janet and Jeff were hard at work continuing the preparation of the new pathways. 

Trenching of the paths was complete by midday, ready to have a red brick lining added before being filled with limestone chipping and being compressed. 

Throughout the afternoon general weeding of the garden beds was the task at hand, keeping on top of the constant growth of grass that is determined to reclaim its previous home. 

With everyone across site hard at work the day flashed by, as 15:30 approached and with the threat of rain increasing, the decision was made to call it a day.

Final touches to the trench (Credit. Mitchell Sutherland)

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