Weather on the March 2023

March 2023 had it all, or almost – Spring threatened to appear at any moment, but Winter certainly reared its frosty head a few mornings – as an early March timelapse of our Pump House Cottage Garden tries to show. As wet weather and cold snaps passed into bright sunshine, so delayed bulbs and buds started to emerge from the shroud of Winter’s sleep.

How many seasons at Pump House Cottage Garden? (Timelapse through snow and shine 4th-12th March 2023)

Never stumped

Spring date March 2023, these are the working days of the volunteers of the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery. Our continuing mission: to explore the strange boundaries of our site, to seek out new stumps and rubble needing clearing, to boldly remove what no one has removed before – or something like that.

Still clinging on – 18th March 2023 – the giant tree stump in the way of progress at the base of the retaining wall

Picking up where our February update left us. The regular volunteers, John, Jamie, Paul, Mitchell, and Paul had continued their efforts in tackling the huge stump at the base of the retaining wall. Having undermined the stump atop a mighty mound of surprisingly soft earth, the crew had winched the massive knuckle of roots away from the wall, but still it clung fast, pressing against the stonework, and preventing the group from getting at the masonry to repoint and consolidate it to prevent further deterioration.

Tools of the stump trade – removing smaller roots, loosening the grip of the stump at the base of the wall, 18th March 2023

Step forward Glen and a little persuasion from a chainsaw to aid the bow saw, handsaw and bars, hatchets and brushes – it was a close run thing, mind…

Getting there – 18th March 2023 – a definite gap between the stump and the wall, and roots and trapped stone and bricks are loosened

Finally it gave way – after hours of work, this was no small achievement – definitely the hardest the Friends have tackled since taking on the site in 2014!

Free at last. 18th March 2023 – the stump was cut free and rocked and lifted down out of the way of the wall
A bit of a tidemark. 18th March 2023 a huge clear space, for the volunteers to dig out to get to the base of the wall and prevent further deterioration

Helping out

A continuing joy of being on site with the Friends and volunteers is the mixture of ages and experiences; of curiosity and knowledge. Sharing memories and discussing interpretations of the remaining structures and machinery on site.

Generations of enthusiasm on site – heritage provides lots of interest and energy as well as great company on site, March 2023

On Saturday 18th March, the Friends and regular volunteers were joined by wider family members, joining their siblings, and grandchildren to explore the site, and join in with activities as varied as gardening, tool tidying, mechanical repairs and the most important – lunchtime confabulations.

Out and About

The Friends were also pleased to get out in March to attend the Annual Bramah Lecture of the South Yorkshire Industrial History Society, hosted at the Cooper Gallery in Barnsley on Monday 27th March 2023. The lecture, given by Dr John Tanner, was on the title “Elsecar Forging Ahead – Industrial Archaeology, Aristocrats and Heritage Rediscovered“. It was great to hear about the wider history of the Elsecar valley and the collieries and ironworks, housing, and aristocratic connections and intentions in the development of Elsecar – in which our own colliery played an interesting role.

2023 Bramah Lecture of the South Yorkshire Industrial History Society at the Cooper Gallery, Barnsley (collage of images from the event)

A wonderful opportunity came at the end of the talk when local heritage groups were invited to give a short update on their activities and contacts. The Friends of Hemingfield Colliery were represented by Mitchell Sutherland who provided an update on what had been happening on site and when our Open Days are planned for this year – look out for the Bank Holidays. This informal networking of heritage groups including our own, Barnsley Main Heritage Group, the South Yorkshire Industrial History Society sites at Hoylandswaine, Rockley and Wortley, also lead to further discussions with other groups such as Barnsley Civic Trust and has stimulated some ideas for new activities and attendance at future events. Our thanks also the the Barnsley Heritage Connects leads who are championing these groups across the area.

Blooming marvellous

Cold but committed – transforming Pump House Cottage Garden in March 2023 (Photo Credit: Mitchell Sutherland)

Meanwhile, back over at Pump House Cottage Garden, the constant gardening continued, supporting the transformation of Pump House Cottage, as part of our National Lottery Heritage Fund Hemingfield’s Hidden History project.

Thanks to the National Lottery Players for creating opportunities to engage with and help to preserve, our shared heritage

The work of re-energising the building and ground around Pump House Cottage is championed by regular volunteers Janet and Jeff who have ploughed this particular corner and scattered seeds, creating a beautiful space, opening it up, planting a range of wonderful plants, bringing colour and comfort to visitors and wildlife alike throughout the year.

Glorious gardening 25th March 2023 at Pump House Cottage (Photo Credit: Mitchell Sutherland)

2023 is no different, and the work of maintaining the garden continued, with lots of exciting work in hand to ensure we have a wonderful Spring and Summer showing at this frankly fabulous part of the colliery – a focus for the Friends, volunteers and visitors – a welcome break and venue for sharing our stories and celebrating Hemingfield and the valley within which it sits.

Stepping up – the Pump House Cottage Garden is more easily accessible now the stone steps have been cleaned back, 25th March 2023 (Photo Credit: Mitchell Sutherland)

More active travelling

Off site, but definitely part of the wider picture of connecting Elsecar, Hemingfield and the wider region, the work on improvement to all-weather pathways from the TransPennine Trail to Elsecar Railway Station continued. The most prominent element of the connection is the substantial new path being built across Elsecar Green – skirting the park, and certainly ensuring that bicycles and walkers will keep their tyres and feet safely high and dry all year round.

Active travel path across Elsecar Green under construction, 3rd March 2023, view looking towards Fitzwilliam Street/Hill Street with diggers clearing a path and aggregate covering the unfinished surface
Active travel connection improvements supported by funding from the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority, Elsecar 3rd March 2023, view from Hill Street/Fitzwilliam Street looking across the Green. Construction fencing in place and a digger close to the top of the path.
Path in progress across the middle of Elsecar Green, 3rd March 2023
New active travel cycling and walking path being constructed across Elsecar Green, 3 March 2023. Looking towards the old Gas Works Manager’s house and the path to Elsecar canal Basin
Snowy scene 9th March 2023, view across Elsecar Green with new active travel path in progress, unfinished planings base awaiting tarmac.
More snow 10th March 2023, covering the new path across Elsecar Green
Surfacing the new path, 17th March 2023, looking across from Hill Street, with first base layer of tarmac
Underlayer of tarmac covers the path across Elsecar Green, 17th March 2023
Widening the pavement on Hill Street, looking downhill towards Elsecar Green. Active travel improvements connecting Elsecar Railway Station to the TransPennine Trail, 17th March 2023
23rd March 2023, crossings connecting the improved pavements linking the TransPennine Trail to Elsecar Railway Station being constructed.
Tarmacked wider pavement up Hill Street, Elsecar, with low boundary wooden fence by the Hill Street green space, 28th March 2023
Nearly done, final rolled tarmac surfaced of the new path across Elsecar Green. Path open for use, with some construction barriers to be removed, 28th March 2023

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