This week’s blog will review the progress made at Hemingfield Colliery throughout 2021.
Starting with the group’s first day back on site and reflecting on the jobs completed throughout the year. Recapping on a few important dates before finishing with the group’s final visit on the 18th December.
October continues to suprise with its variously variable and only vaguely varied weather. Forecasters beware: the elements may pay no heed to your hallowed prognostications. After dodging the drops of wet days and dank nights, and rushing to the thermostat to restore bloodflow, it’s clear that things are on the turn.
Bank Holiday weather is usually euphemistic cover for a downpour, rather than the hoped-for rays of sunshine on a public holiday, but Spring Bank Holiday 2021 was a nice surprise: a long, bright, dry and hot weekend for a change. A holiday at home. Almost. Certainly a fabulous day to be outdoors.
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.
The Friends of Hemingfield Colliery were happy to see that the external scaffolding had gone from around the Victorian winding engine house. This could only mean one thing: the main phase of the roof restoration was over – the reroofing, new rafters, wall plates, fascias, battens, insulation and slating was in place, with flashings, and guttering looking clean and new as Friends Chair Steve and Site Manager Glen opened up the gates.
December was deceptively mild as the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery and regular volunteers arrived for the final open day and working party weekend of 2016.
Site Manager Glen and Friends Chair Steve were joined by John, Nigel, Alan and Chris as the crew continued work on site, clearing rubble, logging felled timber and generally keeping things tidy. Equally everyone was keen to see the latest progress on the removal and restoration of the winding engine house roof.
The Friends of Hemingfield Colliery arrived on site this weekend as autumn colours finally began to take hold all around. Shivering trees of burnt orange and raw sienna tones, Woody Nightshade berries of bright tomato-red shades and Yellow Snapdragon flowers of a delicate lemon hue all displayed their dazzling natural beauty against a backdrop of grey-brown industrial features.
Woody Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara) plants have invaded the site, clambering over rocks and brick rubble and smothering scrap heaps. This plant is a member of the Solanaceae family, the most well-known genera of this family perhaps being Solanum tuberosum (potato) and Solanum lycopersicum (tomato). Woody Nightshade is a truly beautiful plant with curvaceous, arrow-shaped leaves and striking purple flowers, which are succeeded by succulent, though highly poisonous, scarlet fruits.
Yellow Snapdragons (Linaria vulgaris) are dancing happily on our freshly-formed clearance spoil heaps, their delicate pale lemon and yellow petals adding a welcome splash of sunshine to the dull brown mounds of soil. Naturally a late bloomer, the Yellow Snapdragon can often be seen brightening up waste places, disturbed land, road verges and railway sidings as the sparkly month of October turns into gloomy November.
And this changing season has brought with it changing times for the colliery – the beginnings of a new lease of life for the engine house.
There was excitement in the air, alongside the welcome warmth of the September sunshine, as the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery and their regular volunteers gathered on site to kick start another busy day’s work and open the gates to visitors.
Friends Chair Steve, and Directors Glen, Ian, and Christine were all on site during the day to share the latest news on developments on site and some exciting plans for the coming year.