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.
The Friends and regular volunteers returned to Hemingfield Colliery for another tentative and COVID-secure session maintaining the site as the country at large continues to open up following changes to government and Public Health England guidelines.
After a week of, well let’s say ‘changeable’ weather, the Friends and regular core volunteers were keen to recoup some of the time lost to site maintenance since March and the beginning of the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this an extra Saturday when the weather looked set fair was seized on 11th July to continue the weeding, cleaning and tidying the site so that it is back in good order for what the future may bring as the world, or the UK at least, takes its first steps back towards a new normal.
2020! The first Open Day in the new year and what a beautoful day. Bright blue skies above, clear views all around, and a quickening coldness which suggested frost, but was soon chased away by getting to work as the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery and the regular volunteers returned to the pit for another year of activity, in a new decade of life for the colliery.
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.
The Friends of Hemingfield Colliery arrived on site bright and early on Saturday morning; unlike the less than sparkling cloud bank and damp air. Still, the crew were on site and ready to get on with a good days’s work, and at least it wasn’t raining.
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.