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.
A hundred years ago today, 31st December 1918, two agreements were signed which effectively saved important parts of our mining heritage in South Yorkshire, and specifically what is now the site of Hemingfield Colliery.
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.
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)
Grey Days and Silver Linings
The Friends of Hemingfield Colliery arrived bright and early on site, under a grey sky at Hemingfield. Regular volunteers Keith, John and Chris were on hand to get to work on the first undoubtedly Autumnal day of 2018.
Wheelie good times
May 2018 was one to remember. Le Tour de Yorkshire passed through South Yorkshire on 4th May. Barnsley was busy and buzzing with one of the stages starting in the town, before heading out throughout the borough. Hoyland, Wentworth and Elsecar were all eagerly awaiting the arrival of the men’s and women’s races during the day – with crowds of all ages, street decorations and special celebrations arranged all around the route.
Hot, bright sunshine shone down across the valley from Elsecar on Saturday as the Friends and regular volunteers arrived at the pit for the final Open Day in April. 2018 has truly flown by!
With Site Manager Glen out on assignment, regular volunteer Keith opened up the gates. He was joined by a good band of volunteers, Paul, John, Mike and Barrie. A fair array of brimmed headwear was on show, most sporting baseball caps, before the arrival of Chris, who was seeking deep cover under a cricket hat.
On Saturday 7th April the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery hosted a special open day visit from members of the Sheffield-based Time Travellers group of archaeology enthusiasts. The group had arranged a day trip to the Elsecar Heritage Action Zone area, being hosted by Dr Tegwen Roberts (Elsecar Heritage Action Zone officer), and filled a busy day visiting the Newcomen beam engine, exploring the buildings of the Heritage Centre, stopping by the Elsecar Heritage Railway and reviewing the archaeological research underway in the area and supported by Historic England.
In the afternoon, Dr Roberts led the group of around 25 members down from Elsecar to visit Hemingfield Colliery, guiding the visitors along the Dearne and Dove canal towpath, past the Hemingfield Colliery basin and on to Tingle Bridge with its surviving lock-side public house, the Elephant and Castle.
Events, and more events
February was a very full month for the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery. Events on site and off it filled out the usually short and wintry month, and gave us plenty of news and images to share as we look back on a busy few weeks.
The Next Shift
The Friends of Hemingfield Colliery were keen to return to site this Saturday – to open the gates, collect tools, and return to the dig at the rear of the winding engine house.
Friends Chair Steve welcomed regular volunteers John, Keith and Paul, followed by Chris. The crew returned to the scene of the earlier discovery of the coal tub, and picked up where they left off, removing the spoil in what is quickly becoming a fascinating area of hidden features.