August company, Saturday 7th August 2021

Summertime. The Friends and volunteers returned to site for a brief spell as life continues to return to something akin to a norm. Hybridisation is the spice of life; we will grow and adapt.

Sunshine heating, cloud conditioning. View of the main headgear from the roof beams of the old switchgear building

In the event the sun shone early doors, enough to burn outside although patches of light drizzle were an omen of developments after 3pm.

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Mist over the meadow

Saturday 10th July 2021 was almost a dot day. Not because of the mounting excitement ahead of the Euro 2020 final and the hopes (ultimately dashed) for England men’s football team, but rather because the weather forecast looked wet and miserable. Nevertheless the Friends and regular volunteers braved the elements.

Emerging from the mist, the approach to Hemingfield Colliery, Sat 10th July 2021

In the event, ‘Plan B’ of indoor building recording work, followed by a swift exit proved unnecessary, and it was a very active and incredibly hot-and-humid day to be working outdoors, mostly bringing the growth of green stuff back into order.

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Pathways to the past, Saturday 26th June 2021

Framed by trees, the pit appears from Wath Road in Elsecar

After a short hiatus, the Friends and volunteers gathered for another socially-distanced outdoor working session on site.

Opening up. Not quite ready for open days more generally, but hopefully not too far away now!

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.

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The highest heights, 12th June 2021

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.

Not quite the Eagle’s Nest, more like a Barn Owl box

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?

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Step-Up and Stick to the Plan. Returning to a new normal?

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!

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Autumn falls; rising hope

view of a flowering yellow weed growing out of a sandstone wall with an engine house building above it. Hope in dark times.
View of the winding engine house from the the pumping shaft level

On Saturday 17th October 2020, The Friends of Hemingfield Colliery squeezed another socially-distanced and Covid-safe session for a small number of volunteers. Working outdoors in the fresh air it was a busy day, even if it might have been the last in 2020.

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Humid of Hemingfield, seeks shade

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.

View of the winding engine house and pay off the pumping shaft and headgear next to it.
Sunny view of the pumping shaft and winding engine house
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Celebrating our Heritage on Yorkshire Day

Bright morning and blue sky under the main headgear at Hemingfield, Saturday 1st August.

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.

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