Drizzle Dodgers

Pump House Cottage ejecting smoke (photo credit: Mitchell Sutherland)

Another weekend with the promise of rain had seen the team arrive on site eager to get on with the day’s work at hand; with everyone arriving before 10:00am.


The morning commenced with the usual routine, a quick walk around site scanning for signs of intrusion, whether it be by trespassing or a (gloved) handful of the new “flying” doggy-doo bags.


After pondering around and catching up with the regular volunteers, it was time to do the honours of removing the blanket of leaves that mother nature had laid along the front wall. Following some vigorous sweeping, shovelling and wheel-barrowing the entrance to site and the pavement leading up to it looked just as good as it would in the summer, leaf and litter free!

Leaf litter along the front wall. (photo credit: Mitchell Sutherland)

As we approach the winter months, the air becomes damper and cooler, inviting Jack Frost himself to come out and play. This in return restricts what we can and can’t do around the site. The rear retaining wall has been the main focal point within the group since we have been able to have regular meet-ups again, but with winter hindering any further restoration on the retaining wall, the group’s attention has turned to Pump House Cottage.

Pump House Cottage 23.10.2021

The previous fortnight has seen Pump House Cottage receive quite the overhaul: The removal of an old satellite dish; a general sweep, freshly painted drainpipes and window sills – all of these giving the building a complete new look; resembling what she (OR HE!) may have looked like in her past, working life.

After giving the Pump House Cottage a fresh new look, it was agreed within the team that the main job in focus this weekend would be repairing the Lintel on the red brick extension of the cottage. Requiring scaffolding; a safe, solid structure was soon erected and both Glen and Paul could get to work on the restoration. Using specialist, rapid set waterproof repair mortar the once heavily weather damaged lintels now have a fresh face!

Pump House Cottage receiving some TLC. (photo credit: Mitchell Sutherland)

Oh PHC, Oh PHC, how does your garden grow?

To accompany the cottage’s new look, the garden has also benefited from a makeover, Janet and Jeff, two of the latest members to join the team have volunteered to give the Pump House Cottage some much needed care and attention.

Over recent weeks the garden has slowly transitioned from a regularly strimmed section of wilderness to an area that is beginning to take the shape of a 4 planting bed garden. What seemed to be an endless fight against long grass and weeds is now shaping up nicely into a place of peace and tranquility.

This weekend the small blades of grass that had managed to make an appearance through the week, were removed; in their place we see eight new species of plant being added, this including: Montbretia, Pyracantha, Asters, Phlox, Campanula, Sedum, Miniature Rose bush and variegated hebe. Further plans are to add Lavender, Daffodils, Crocus and other summer flowering bulbs to the garden.

Following the plans of the new garden; a new pathway has been dug leading from the concrete path (at the gate) straight towards the centre of the site. Throughout this process the remnants of an old stone pathway was unearthed, quite possibly covered for the past 50 years!

As the hours passed by, more and more of this stone pathway was being revealed to the bright autumn sun. Excess topsoil removed from the garden is being used to level other areas of the site out, this primarily being around the concrete pad close to the main entrance, allowing for better accessibility and parking.

Pump House Cottage 06.11.2021

Treasure!! Half a penny’s worth.

Throughout the process of removing excess topsoil from the garden, a small, corroded discovery was made. Easily recognisable as being made from copper, but roughly the same size as a 10pence piece, it was a mystery as to what this coin was. Following some careful cleaning of the reverse(tails) face, it soon became clear that what had been found was a ‘half penny’ dated 1936.

Reverse face of cleaned half penny. (photo credit: Mitchell Sutherland)

Interestingly the obverse(heads) face of this coin holds a portrait of King George V, given the coin is dated 1936, this is the last of the half pennies that feature the king. Following the death of King George V the reverse face of the half penny featured a ship, rather than Britannia, for the first time since 1672.

Finding this coin, buried deep within the topsoil by the stone pathway, makes you wonder how long it has been sitting in that exact position for. How long ago could somebody have dropped this coin? Given the date the coin was minted, it would be quite possible that this half penny was buried before world war two! With this in mind, it makes you think about whether the person who dropped this coin ever noticed; depending on when this coin was lost, it could have determined the meal they ate that night, or if the family went without milk the following day.

Obverse face of cleaned half penny. (photo credit: Mitchell Sutherland)

Identifying the past

Continuing from his previous week’s work, John has continued to take measurements within the Winding Engine House, adding more and more to the extensive collection that he has already achieved. Each measurement slowly allows the group to better understand how the operation at Hemingfield may have unfolded; with over 100 years worth of extensions, there’s plenty more of this unknown story to be told.

Each individual measurement is an extra piece to this mammoth puzzle, allowing extra precision to be added to diagrams of the Winding Engine House. Taking measurements of both the interior and exterior of the building has allowed diagrams to be drawn, this then allows us to envision where the steam winding engine would have once sat within the building; accompanied with its beam, flywheel and gearing. This in turn will then allow an accurate depiction of where the flat rope drum sat within the building and what this would have looked like, before being replaced with electricity and a smaller round rope drum in 1937.

Taking measurements. (photo credit: Mitchell Sutherland)

Bank Holiday Balm, Saturday 28th August 2021

Sunny days. Approaching the pit in August sun

Coming as something of a blessed relief, the sun finally made an appearance on the last Saturday in August, as the Friends, volunteers and a select band of visitors foregathered at Hemingfield Colliery.

In the near distance the sounds of late harvesting echoed across the valley: the constant hum of a combine reaping, threshing, and winnowing the golden fields. A propitious start to the day.

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Stepping up, Saturday 14th August 2021

Staying on the front foot after weeks of catch-up activities, the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery arrived earlier than usual at the pit. Early, if not bright, but in good spirits!

Earlier sunlight at the end of the tree-tunnel, on Wath Road headed to Pit Row

Opening up for a brisk day of tidying, ticking off a series of smaller, but useful, odd jobs; the bits and bobs (or random tasks, depending on your point of view) which really need doing, but aren’t always the first priorities. Variety being the spice of life, it was a fun day and great to see volunteer efforts have real impact during the day itself.

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Mist over the meadow

Saturday 10th July 2021 was almost a dot day. Not because of the mounting excitement ahead of the Euro 2020 final and the hopes (ultimately dashed) for England men’s football team, but rather because the weather forecast looked wet and miserable. Nevertheless the Friends and regular volunteers braved the elements.

Emerging from the mist, the approach to Hemingfield Colliery, Sat 10th July 2021

In the event, ‘Plan B’ of indoor building recording work, followed by a swift exit proved unnecessary, and it was a very active and incredibly hot-and-humid day to be working outdoors, mostly bringing the growth of green stuff back into order.

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Pathways to the past, Saturday 26th June 2021

Framed by trees, the pit appears from Wath Road in Elsecar

After a short hiatus, the Friends and volunteers gathered for another socially-distanced outdoor working session on site.

Opening up. Not quite ready for open days more generally, but hopefully not too far away now!

Although decisions around lifting national lockdown restrictions in England were held back for four weeks until 19th July 2021, and there were worrying signs of Covid-19 infections rising with the new ‘Delta variant’, still the protection of an effective vaccination programme and gave the crew confidence in working outdoors, in a small group, albeit behind closed gates for a further push on restoration activities.

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The highest heights, 12th June 2021

Keeping up the pace the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery and regular volunteers returned on Saturday 12th June. Just a week since the last session. Clearly they had the bit between their teeth; the wall-pointing bug was evident: a crazed addiction if ever there was one.

Not quite the Eagle’s Nest, more like a Barn Owl box

This week was crowned by gravity-defying high scaffold work, and equally heightened temperatures. Hemingfield may not have enjoyed the global media attention of the G7 summit happening in Corbis Bay, Cornwall, but lacked none of the fabulous weather. Who needs the pabulum and bluster of world leaders when you have the wit and wisdom determined volunteers? Such geopolitical debates aside, what *is* the right way of spreading cream and jam on a scone?

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