Open Day, Saturday 6th October 2018

October mild

The Friends of Hemingfield Colliery arrived early on site, swinging the gates wide open and stepping into the pit yard. Expecting rain, but finding mostly dry terrain and pleasant working conditions in the mild autumnal air. Looking over across the valley over to Hemingfield proper, the sky was cloudy but blue, and the farmed fields in the distance contrasted with the dense and beautifully dis-colouring trees nearby. It is a turning point in the year when days shorten, clocks go back and woolly jumpers emerge.  American poet Robert Frost put it crisply:

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.

(From ‘October’, published in A Boy’s Will, 1913)

Continue reading

End of June 2018 – Celebrations

The End of June 2018 was marked by a series of fascinating and impressive events, part of the Experience Barnsley Festival, arranged to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the opening of Experience Barnsley, museum and discovery centre which has really transformed how local people access and experience the cultural heritage of Barnsley.

Continue reading

Open Day, 26th May 2018

Far and away in May

Photo credit: Andrew Jones

Heading to the colliery on foot from the green hills beyond the village of Hemingfield itself, the pit first appears as a wooded hollow.

Photo credit: Andrew Jones

The huddle of cottages at Pit Row guide the eye to the right level, on the far side of the canal bank, at the foot of a densely wooden hillside – really the landscaped spoil heap of Hemingfield’s younger sibling, Elsecar Main Colliery.

Photo credit: Andrew Jones

Standing proudly over the canal and railway line is the main headgear, its concrete geometry contrasting with the lush green leaves swaying in the breeze.

Photo credit: Andrew Jones

Standing in the distinctive lines of its shadow, the Friends and regular volunteers collected tools and headed out around the site to get to work.

Keep it clean

A big part of the Friends’ work is taking pride in looking after the pit; taking care of this remarkable survival of the Victorian age is a privilege, and as a survivor, the site has been no stranger to the effects of neglect and vandalism. Stepping out of the gates, and grabbing a brush, shovel and take, it is good to keep the gateway to the site clean and tidy.

Before

After: looking smart.

Elsewhere around the yard, Site Manager Glen powered up the strimmer and got to grips with the long grass, whilst regular volunteer Chris raked up the cuttings and cleared the lower level by the pumping shaft.

Feeling Hot

The sun was fierce on Saturday, but the working party on site were still a little cooler than the firemen on the footplate of the steam engine racing by on the Elsecar Heritage Railway line below.

Boiling away: William looking great in the lush vegetation

A Hole New World

Keeping cool in the moderate shade of the winding engine house were ‘the crew’ – regular volunteers Nigel, Alan, John and Keith returned to the fray, excavating the pit feature which is now two metres down from where we once stood a couple of years ago.

As features emerge, trowel work takes the place of the shovels of demolition rubble, as we seek to assess and interpret what the pit was used for, and record it’s features including compacted coal, and the tantalising drainage feature which suggests we have hit the bottom.

Trowels and tribulations, carefully excavating compacted coal, possibly a pile for a boiler?

Pausing for lunch before rounding off the digging, strumming, raking, sweeping, narrowing and brick chipping. The Friends returned home to a well earned glass of water/pop/juice/beer [delete as applicable]. All pleased with another pleasant day spent on site at Hemingfield under blue skies with hopefully none-too-reddening necks!

Open Day Saturday 27th January 2018

The Next Shift

The Friends of Hemingfield Colliery were keen to return to site this Saturday – to open the gates, collect tools, and return to the dig at the rear of the winding engine house.

Friends Chair Steve welcomed regular volunteers John, Keith and Paul, followed by Chris. The crew returned to the scene of the earlier discovery of the coal tub, and picked up where they left off, removing the spoil in what is quickly becoming a fascinating area of hidden features.

Continue reading

2nd Anniversary Open Day and celebration

Happy Birthday to us!

Saturday 25th June marked the 2nd Birthday of the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery – that is two full, colourful, fun, eventful and challenging years since the Friends first took over the pit, and started the long and steady process of salvaging, clearing, conserving and researching the history of Hemingfield Colliery, from its earliest days in the 1840s, through the end of coal winding in May 1920, and into its life as a pumping station. Surviving Nationalisation in 1947 and Privatisation in 1994, its two shafts, winding engine house and Cornish engine house overlooking a purpose-built canal basin are a unique survival. And in celebrating all that’s been achieved so far, the Friends, volunteers and supporters are looking forward to the year ahead to make further progress and continue the mission of saving the site, and sharing its stories with the local community.

Continue reading

New research reveals higher death toll for 1866 Oaks Colliery Disaster – Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership

image

A team of local volunteer researchers have revealed a higher death toll for 1866 Oaks Colliery Disaster, than previously thought.

Read about the work of the Oaks memorial group, supported by the Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership.

http://discoverdearne.org.uk/research-reveals-higher-death-toll-1866-oaks-colliery-disaster/