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)

August company, Saturday 7th August 2021

Summertime. The Friends and volunteers returned to site for a brief spell as life continues to return to something akin to a norm. Hybridisation is the spice of life; we will grow and adapt.

Sunshine heating, cloud conditioning. View of the main headgear from the roof beams of the old switchgear building

In the event the sun shone early doors, enough to burn outside although patches of light drizzle were an omen of developments after 3pm.

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Heritage Open Days 2019, Part the Second

Saturday 21st September 2019

A thick mist hung over Elsecar on Saturday morning the first day of a full weekend of Heritage Open Days for Hemingfield Colliery.

(somewhat obstructed) View from Elsecar over to Wentworth

But the sun soon shone through and burned away the lingering mist, as the Friends arrived to open the gates and raise the banner, quite literally, for more of our Heritage Open Days.

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On the right track… Open Day 25th January 2019

The January gloom continued as the Friends and volunteers arrived on site on Saturday 25th January. No snow to contend with, thankfully, but certainly it was a bit nippy when Friends Director and Site Manager Glen opened up the gates to regular volunteers Paul, Keith and Chris.

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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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