Another weekend, another day to catch up on some of the time lost from the initial impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. The Friends of Hemingfield Colliery have been operating on a much-reduced closed-site basis with pre-arranged and socially distanced activities being undertaken by the regular volunteers.
The weather had been touch and go in the week proceeding Saturday 29th August 2020, but the forecast suggested hopes of at least a decent morning’s worth of work without rain, leading us into a very different kind of August Bank Holiday weekend.
Compared to 2020, 2019 looked quite different, with no pandemic, and Open Days bringing visitors and volunteers through the gates at Hemingfield.
Going for broke, the Friends and regular volunteers decided to try and get another weekend COVID-safe session in at Hemingfield Colliery. Hoping against hope that they would not be blown away or proceedings drowned out before further progress could be made on the rear retaining wall.
Cooler, but no less humid. Cloudy with no chance of downpours. But who trusts the forecasts? The Friends and volunteeers arrived for another COVID-catch-up session; safely-spaced and behind closed-gates to try and make good some of the lost weekends over the past few months that have cast such a long shadow over the country, and worldwide.
Nothing but blue skies may be an optimistic note to strike in the midst of a global pandemic, but despite the darker clouds, the ups and downs, through the closings, reopenings and re-closings of recent days, the ability to safely distance and volunteer with others, carefully, outdoors, for a common cause – to protect and restore our common heritage – is something to celebrate. Saturday 1st August also had the distinction of being Yorkshire Day – so it was good to see the blue flags flying the white rose against a mostly blue sky.
Indeed, despite the widespread uncertainty and social and economic distress since the crisis began in March, it is heartening to see concrete steps being taken to support culture, the arts and heritage; most recently the announcement of the £88M Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage distributed by the National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Historic England, following criteria from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. This fund is part of the £1.57 billion rescue package from government to safeguard cultural and heritage organisations across the UK.
After a week of, well let’s say ‘changeable’ weather, the Friends and regular core volunteers were keen to recoup some of the time lost to site maintenance since March and the beginning of the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this an extra Saturday when the weather looked set fair was seized on 11th July to continue the weeding, cleaning and tidying the site so that it is back in good order for what the future may bring as the world, or the UK at least, takes its first steps back towards a new normal.
Coronavirus is contracting space and dilating time, it seems. For their part, the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery continue their efforts, remotely: researching, planning and staying safe. We hope you and yours are safe and well. Our thoughts and best wishes go out to all those affected by this epidemic, all those lost to it, and all of those caring and keeping the rest of the country, if not the whole world, running as normal as possible.
But more anon: this blog has a little bit of catching up to do…
Given recent Government announcements and based on the advice of Public Health England on the extraordinary steps needed to achieve effective social distancing and shielding vulnerable groups, the Friends have decided it would be prudent to temporarily close the site to the general public and so cancel publically advertised open days for the immediate future.
This will be regularly reviewed in line with the latest guidance.
However all online actvities will continue, and even expand, with social media posts, Twitter facebook and website updates.
Please continue to get in touch to learn more about the site, its history, surviving built heritage and future plans.
Stay safe everyone! The Friends of Hemingfield Colliery
What with Storm Ciara (pronounced keera) threatening proceedings, and suggestions of Storm Dennis barely a week away, the Friends threw caution to the – admittedly light – wind on Saturday 8th February 2020, and ventured down to site for a surprisingly storm-free open day at Hemingfield Colliery.
2020! The first Open Day in the new year and what a beautoful day. Bright blue skies above, clear views all around, and a quickening coldness which suggested frost, but was soon chased away by getting to work as the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery and the regular volunteers returned to the pit for another year of activity, in a new decade of life for the colliery.