After a short hiatus, the Friends and volunteers gathered for another socially-distanced outdoor working session on site.
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.
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.
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?
With the forecast decidedly dodgy, the Friends postponed on site activities for another week. In the event the rain was later than anticipated, but still it allowed time for some additional wanderings and wonderings. Continuing the series of historical reflections on some more days in May…
This is a recuperative post, covering a range of time from March into April 2021, as the UK’s lockdown began to ease, following a 4 step plan: a roadmap enabled by the extensive targeted vaccination programme proceeding since the new year. As the nation recovers normal activities, so hopefully will we!
Seizing another weekend of good weather and maintaining the momentum of recent weeks, the Friends and regular volunteers started early and quickly got shovelling, mixing and delivering lime mortar ready to continue rebuilding the collapsed rear retaining wall. Working safely outdoors and with focus to get the job done, the global pandemic seemed a little further away for a short while.
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.
Bit warm again. Seeking to keep up the momentum from the last week’s efforts, the Friends and careful band of regular volunteers returned to Hemingfield Colliery once again for another early start to a day of repairs to the rear retaining wall behind the winding engine house. Still gently returning to the site and following COVID-19 secure guidance, the pit was working behind closed gates again for now.
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.