Open Day, Saturday 3rd November 2018

Notching up November

On Saturday morning the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery returned to work on another open day. The approach of winter hardens the ground and turns the air, so working out doors becomes harder and the days slightly shorter as the clocks fell back at the end of October. With the great sleep-in behind us, the Friends and regular volunteers were eager to face the ultimate challenge: shifting the Great Stump.

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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)

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Heritage Open Days 2018 Part 2 

Saturday 15th September 2018

The second and final Heritage Open Day of 2018 began with grey and cloudy skies, though without the unbroken rains that preceded the previous weekend. Friends Chair Steve and regular volunteers Keith and Chris were on site to welcome another series of visitors to the site and provide walking tours of the surviving buildings and machinery.

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Open Day Saturday 9th June 2018

The beginning of June 2018 was marked by unrelenting sunshine, blue skies and the reluctant admission that yes, Summer is indeed here.

Dazzling sunshine; seeking shade under the headgear

Site Manager Glen opened the gates to regular volunteers Alan, John, Keith and Chris. Friends chair Steve was also present and catch up with the results of recent working parties.

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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!

May Days

Wheelie good times

Tour de Yorkshire Barnsley hotspots May 2018

May 2018 was one to remember. Le Tour de Yorkshire passed through South Yorkshire on 4th May. Barnsley was busy and buzzing with one of the stages starting in the town, before heading out throughout the borough. Hoyland, Wentworth and Elsecar were all eagerly awaiting the arrival of the men’s and women’s races during the day – with crowds of all ages, street decorations and special celebrations arranged all around the route.

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Year’s End: Open Day, 9th December 2017

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The end of the year cometh, but so do the volunteers! On a cold, but beautifully light December morning at Hemingfield, the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery were delighted to welcome the regular volunteers to the pit to mark the last Open day of 2017; to celebrate the Christmas vacation ahead, and reflect on a busy and rewarding year for the Friends and the whole area.

But first, on with the discoveries!

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