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.
The beginning of June 2018 was marked by unrelenting sunshine, blue skies and the reluctant admission that yes, Summer is indeed here.
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.
Far and away in May
Heading to the colliery on foot from the green hills beyond the village of Hemingfield itself, the pit first appears as a wooded hollow.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Settling back into the routine of normal Open Days as the good weather continued, the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery welcomed a good group of volunteers and visitors to the site. Site Director Glen, and Friends Chair Steve opened the gates to regular volunteers Nigel, Alan, John, Paul, Keith, together with our Peak district friends John, Chris and Phil. It was a full house, and with effort to spare, the team continued work on excavating the pit at the rear of the winding engine house.
Hot, bright sunshine shone down across the valley from Elsecar on Saturday as the Friends and regular volunteers arrived at the pit for the final Open Day in April. 2018 has truly flown by!
With Site Manager Glen out on assignment, regular volunteer Keith opened up the gates. He was joined by a good band of volunteers, Paul, John, Mike and Barrie. A fair array of brimmed headwear was on show, most sporting baseball caps, before the arrival of Chris, who was seeking deep cover under a cricket hat.
The end of March 2018 was a wonderfully busy day on site with Friends Chair Steve, and Directors Glen and Christine welcoming regular volunteers Alan, Nigel, Paul, Keith and Chris during the morning.
The focus of the day was to finishing up excavation work at the rear of the winding engine house, continuing recording work on progress to date, and also permitting the working party to move on to other tasks on site as the Friends (and the country at large!) embrace warmer weather and the coming season of public events.
Events, and more events
February was a very full month for the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery. Events on site and off it filled out the usually short and wintry month, and gave us plenty of news and images to share as we look back on a busy few weeks.
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.
The first Open Day of 2018 dawned with great anticipation. The Friends opened the gates to regular volunteers Keith, Alan, Nigel, John, Paul and Chris. Having downed tools in December 2017, everyone was keen to continued excavating the coal tub, or corve and the intriguing remains at the rear of the site.
For this discovery we can let the images speak for themselves, as we follow the day’s dig…
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!