Our volunteers bring new life, ideas and energy to Hemingfield Colliery. Their passion and individual interests and life experiences drive the Friends to continually endeavour to improve the site, helping to save the colliery, to find new ways and new audiences with which to share its stories, and to celebrate the history and heritage of the site, but also the exciting possibilities for its future. Volunteer hours and effort are an important element in raising funds to meet the annual costs of running a former industrial site for the benefit of visitors. Their efforts are also key to supporting funding bids from other partners, leading to the restoration of individual elements of, and the long-term conservation goals for the site.
Volunteers at Hemingfield Colliery, 2022
Sources of Inspiration
Here we feature a few details of some of our regular volunteers, their interests, and what drew them to getting involved here at Hemingfield. Some of the sources of inspiration for our volunteers, past and present.
Janet and Jeff
We first visited the site in September 2021 for the Heritage Open Days and were totally hooked in!
I (Janet) have a particular interest in local history and am pleased that Elsecar and the surrounding area is finally getting the acclaim it deserves. We like to think we are giving something back to the local and wider community and enjoy making a difference to the site.
We concentrated on the garden outside Pump House Cottage and dug it over before planting various flowers etc. We are particularly proud of the wild flower section which is alive with bees and insects during the summer months. It is now looking more loved and less abandoned than it was. We have a bird bath and sundial kindly donated and a memorial bench for all the people who sadly were killed in accidents during the pit’s working life.
We have made friends with a really friendly group who cover all aspects of work and aren’t afraid to turn their hand to anything and everything.
My involvement with Hemingfield started in April 2021, throughout the Covid pandemic I developed a keen interest in local heritage and the importance of preserving it for future generations to learn from.
It was complete coincidence that I stumbled upon the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery – whilst researching local collieries and scouring Google Earth, I found what I thought to be the abandoned remains of an industrial giant. Further research soon led me to the group’s website, and I instantly registered my interest to volunteer whenever possible.
Throughout my time at Hemingfield I’ve found an incredible bunch of people who all have the same passion as I do. Being the youngest in the group was quite strange at first, but everyone welcomed me with open arms.
My interest in Hemingfield stems from passing by the site every week when I was younger. Being from West Melton, heading to Hoyland, I’d go by Pit Row and wonder what the mysterious headgears were all about, and who or what was to be found behind the spooky open window of the stone engine house, with its old curtain billowing in wind. Did anyone visit the site? How come it survived when Elsecar Main was razed to the ground?
I was also fascinated by the local and industrial history of Elsecar and the Fitzwilliam Estate. I’d read and researched all I could about the development of the area, and my own family have a history of being miners, so when I heard the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery as being set up, I was delighted to be able to chip in and help conserve and repair this intriguing gem of a site, bringing it back from the brink, and opening it to the local community it has employed and watched over since the 1840s. The Friends and volunteers I’ve met have a been great – all committed to bringing life back to the site and sharing the stories, as well as finding new uses.
My interest in Hemingfield Colliery stems from my having been brought up a few miles away and have known and visited the area over many years. I also have a particular interest in the development of ventilation technology, a subject in which Hemingfield and the surrounding area is particularly rich, due to the connections with Biram and Nasmyth.
My interest in the Industrial Revolution and engineering history goes back about 40 years to when my involvement in industrial archaeology first took off. I was born and brought up in the North of England, living first in a shipbuilding and iron making town in south Cumbria and later on the South Yorkshire Coalfield. Surrounded by heavy industry and the remains of the industrial revolution, I began visiting and photographing industrial sites. This “general” interest in industrial archaeology developed into a more specific interest in the history of the coal industry and development of related mining technology. To this end I wrote my first book, which was published in 1985. Over the years this was followed by three further coal mining related books.
2019 – Sharing our stories – The first Hemingfield Colliery interpretation board by the canal basin
Volunteer outreach – connecting with community groups in 2022