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.
The Friends and regular volunteers returned to Hemingfield Colliery for another tentative and COVID-secure session maintaining the site as the country at large continues to open up following changes to government and Public Health England guidelines.
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.
A hundred years ago today, on the 15th May 1920, the last corf load of coal was raised from Earl Fitzwilliam’s Hemingfield Colliery. It marked the end of an era for the pit, as silence fell, albeit temporarily, at the main winding shaft.
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…
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.
The rainclouds hung heavily overhead during the morning. Ever-optimistic, the Friends arrived on site, opened up the gates, and skipped over the puddles to get on with a list of tasks before the worst of the cold and miserable weather set in.