Live Projects 2016
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.
Grey cloud and autumn mist lingered over the Knoll Beck in the valley to Elsecar as the Friends and volunteers arrived at Hemingfield Colliery for another open day.
Preparation was the name of the game this weekend for the last working party before the Friends hand their 1846 winding engine house over to the care of building contractors who will be re-roofing the whole building, ensuring it will be protected well into the twenty-first century.
On Friday evening, the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery were privileged to be present at the unveiling of the restored Newcomen beam engine at Elsecar. The engine – a Scheduled Ancient Monument, No. SY1146, since June 1972 – is the only atmospheric engine in the world still in situ; still working in its original building and over the original mine shaft. Built in 1795 as the Dearne and Dove canal drew nearer, and the 4th Earl Fitzwilliam’s Elsecar collieries and industrial enterprises were being expanded, the engine has pumped billions of gallons of mine water during its working life – a run which officially ended in 1923 when electric pumps were installed by the the South Yorkshire Pumping Association – the same body that maintained the pumping stations at Hemingfield and over at Westfield in Rawmarsh.
On Saturday 25th a team of students from the Sheffield School of Architecture hosted a community engagement event at Elsecar Heritage Centre.
Presenting an impressive array of interactive mapping, scale models, colourful history boards and striking sketch proposals, the Live Project team were active throughout the day from 11am to 4pm to explain and discuss their work so far, and to invite feedback from members of the local community and visitors alike as to the future development of the Hemingfield Colliery site. Outdoors and, when the weather turned, inside the centre, the group guided visitors around a series of displays, including:-
Saturday was a very busy day on site with visitors, volunteers and members of the local community exploring the site, digging up rubble, reclaiming materials for future reuse, as well as discussing both the past and the possible futures for the colliery and its surroundings.
No shortage of bricks!
We were delighted to welcome back members of the Live Project team from the University of Sheffield’s School of Architecture. The whole group of thirteen students have been busy developing proposals for the future development of the site, and the project members have already conducted visitor research and are surveying the opinions of members of the local community. In the near future the team will be presenting some of their ideas as part of a stall at the Elsecar Heritage Centre.
Pumping pit headgear
We were also fortunate to have a number of experts on site – mining historians and professionals who can shed further light on the standing structures and phases of development in the site’s working life. There’s lots still to be discovered about the story of the site – from its beginnings in the 1840s through to the end of the First World War when it was under the control of Earl Fitzwilliam, then into the South Yorkshire Pumping Association and Mines Drainage Committee years, and finally up to its most recent history just before the site’s acquisition by the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery.
Sunday was quieter by comparison, but another beautifully sunny day in which to get stuck into the working party tasks of clearing vegetation, digging out rubble and reclaming whatever materials we can as we go. One element of this work is the reclamation of bricks – cleaning, stacking and storing original building materials is important to our work.
On brick reclamation duty as bricks emerge from other parts of the site being cleared of rubble.
As many of the volunteers will recognise, we have a wealth of different types of bricks on the site and a number of visitors have commented on some of the names – local makers’ names both remembered and long since disappeared. As we make progress in exploring and clearing the site, we hope to be able to add some information about some of these related histories; often important concerns for local history. Please follow this link to the first of these concerning Skiers Spring brickworks.
Working Parties Update
Due to poor weather conditions and some unforeseen circumstances the general working parties scheduled for 8-9th and 29-30th November have been cancelled. However, the Friends have remained busy throughout, both on site and attending events (see the following blog posts!).
Please see the Working Parties page for further updates.
Where will the future take us?
The Friends of Hemingfield Colliery are delighted to be working with the University of Sheffield’s School of Architecture (SSoA) in their innovative Live Projects initiative – bringing the skills and insights of a group of year 5 and 6 architecture and conservation students to bear on the real world challenges and exciting possibilities that await the former colliery site.
At the beginning of October, the SSoA team met the Friends and our partners from the Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership to begin discussions and conduct an initial site visit. The project will last for six weeks as the SSoA team conduct research and proceed to develop detailed proposals for the site.
To learn more, contribute data and suggestions, and to watch this exciting work develop, please visit the Hemingfield Colliery Live Project Blog.