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.
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.
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.
On Friday 4th November the University of Sheffield School of Architecture (SSoA) welcomed students, clients, partners and the public to the Vestry Hall (Israac Centre) on Cemetery Road Sheffield for the public presentations of the 2016 Live Projects www.liveprojects.org.
Live Projects are 6 week projects where Masters Architecture students from the SSoA work with local community, voluntary and arts-based groups on real-world client briefs producing high quality innovative design and build, feasibility, strategy, public engagement and other outputs to support and advance the work of their clients. The project groups work to agreed briefs on a tight schedule. The ideas, designs, documents, models and final presentations are always creative and engaging. The Friends of Hemingfield Colliery themselves benefited from a Live Project in 2014 and so are delighted to see the outcomes of the EHR Live work.
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.
The Friends of Hemingfield Colliery (FOHC) are delighted to announce that we have received commitments of the funds needed to reconstruct the roof of the historically important 1846 Vertical Winding Engine House.
Saturday was another wet one; a disappointing summer’s day at Hemingfield, and unfortunately the working party and open day were called off. The Friends and volunteers staying indoors to return again on a drier day.
Undeterred, everyone turns their time to good account: the Directors continue their planning work to ensure the future of the site. Meanwhile our active volunteers dive back into their own pursuits inspired by the site. Whether it be investigating the social and economic history; modelling the geological context of Hemingfield; studying the wildlife on site, or seeking inspiration from the variety of flora and fauna to create new artwork, providing new perspectives on the colliery.
In future posts we will start to share the fruits of all of this time and effort. For now, this post will bring together a few odds and ends from some recent delvings into the past, some mining miscellanea.
The Friends of Hemingfield Colliery joined in the fun at the forge playing fields as the Mates of Milton hosted a wonderful afternoon of stalls, activities and attractions at the 6th annual Hoyland Milton Gala.
When the clouds signally fail to roll by, and the heavens descend, it can certainly put a dampener on plans and postpone progress on site. Being chased indoors by the elements may prevent the pit gates from opening, but it also gives the Friends chance to delve deeper into the history of the site; open days become research and volunteer days. So, on to writing up research, raising awareness of the group’s activities and generally carrying on regardless!
Saturday 25th June marked the 2nd Birthday of the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery – that is two full, colourful, fun, eventful and challenging years since the Friends first took over the pit, and started the long and steady process of salvaging, clearing, conserving and researching the history of Hemingfield Colliery, from its earliest days in the 1840s, through the end of coal winding in May 1920, and into its life as a pumping station. Surviving Nationalisation in 1947 and Privatisation in 1994, its two shafts, winding engine house and Cornish engine house overlooking a purpose-built canal basin are a unique survival. And in celebrating all that’s been achieved so far, the Friends, volunteers and supporters are looking forward to the year ahead to make further progress and continue the mission of saving the site, and sharing its stories with the local community.