With November fast disappearing it certainly began to feel a lot like Christmas was knocking on the door as the Friends arrived on site to open the gates for another open day and working party. Site Manager Glen welcomed regular volunteers John, Alan, Nigel, Keith, Chris and new recruit Paul to site. Jack Frost more than nibbled on our toes as ice glistened on wall-tops, and ground frost led to some fancy footwork during the morning; all thankfully relieved by bright sunshine in a surprisingly clear and beautifully crisp blue sky.
Busy by Nature
The Friends of Hemingfield Colliery gathered at the pit on Saturday 28th October to continue work in tidying the site. Opening the gates was Director and Site Manager Glen, together with Friends Chair Steve.
They were joined by regular volunteers John, Mike and Chris on what was a steady day’s exertion in pursuit of stump removal.
A Warm welcome
The Friends gathered for a surprisingly bright and pleasant day at Hemingfield Colliery, with autumn leaves gathering at the gate. Site Manager Glen was joined by regular volunteers Nigel, Alan, John, Keith and Chris as the first open day and working party in October got underway.
For the last open day weekend in September, the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery gathered in numbers. Site Manager Glen was joined by Friends Chair Steve, and regular volunteers Nigel, Alan, John, together with John, Phil, Chris, Mike and another Phil – a very full crew.
A Fantastic Company
Following on from a busy couple of public openings and community event activities in September with the Heritage Open Days and Elsecar by the Sea, this weekend was very much time to get back to work, with the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery and volunteers being joined by the fantastic junior soldiers from Waterloo Company, joining us from the Army Foundation College in Harrogate.
The assistance and support from the AFC soldiers is thanks to our friends at the Elsecar Heritage Railway who work with the AFC offering regular volunteer hours with trackwork, rail depot and lineside tasks providing some great team working and learning opportunities alongside some honest graft.
In HODs we trust
This year’s Heritage Open Days events included two full oublic open days for the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery.
Another year flies around and suddenly it’s the first weekend in September once again. Time for the Elsecar by the Sea festival.
A community gala, a great beer festival and a weekend of public activities, including railway trips, live music, entertainers and fairground rides all celebrating the promenading wonders of Elsecar by the Sea.
The origins of the celebration date to the turn of the Twentieth century when the summer charms of Elsecar’s reservoir were promoted to Sheffield city dwellers as a ‘seaside’ escape from the industrial grime and smog.
Is winter coming?
The Friends opened the gates to another busy open day, in what was by turns a bright, but exceedingly wet, working day. Site Manager Glen welcomed regular volunteers Nigel, Alan, and John and was pleased to see the returning Peak District contingent of experienced mining archaeological enthusiasts John, Phil and Chris.
Splitting into small groups, work continued in two areas – one excavating the lower terrace, the north-facing area terrace above the Elsecar Heritage Railway line. The other was by the site entrance, next to the pit gates.
Summertime gatherings stir the soul and lift the spirits. Surrounded by lush countryside, listening to breezy birdsong, and keeping cool in the shadow of this old workplace under a bright blue sky makes for a memorable day.
And so once more unto the pit, dear friends, once more, as the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery assembled to open the gates for another open day, and continue to maintain and explore the site.
The Friends of Hemingfield Colliery were keen to return to the annual Milton Gala this year after the great experience they enjoyed last time. Organised by the very active Mates of Milton community group, the event is a fun day for local people from Elsecar, Hoyland and further afield to come and enjoy a day out, with shows, rides, stalls and displays to entertain them throughout the day.
Travelling in hope
After a damp Saturday which had prevented the Friends from opening the colliery, all eyes were looking skywards, as the organisers and attendees assembled at the Forge playing fields at Milton, just off Milton Road, by the Furnace pub.
The Friends of Hemingfield Colliery were out in strength, with regular volunteer Keith preparing the ground with a great marquee, courtesy of our friends at the Barnsley Main Heritage Group. Directors Glen and Christine continued the convoy, with volunteers Glenda and Chris also on hand to set up stall, and lay out both the fun activity and also a display of materials about the Friends group.
The top of the Forge playing fields was busy with stalls, fairground rides, bouncy castles, stalls, food outlets and a steady parade of dogs with their owners, ready for the show.
During the day queues were forming to the left and the right, for the sweet and the savory, ice creams or jacket potatoes.
The weather was mostly bright, just with some slightly threatening clouds overhead, but with a steady stream of visitors the time flew by.
Roll up, roll up…
The friends had a prime spot with many people passing by, stopping to chat, look at the stall, play our game, or just stroke good old Rosie the dog, staunch supporter, keenly guarding the wares.
Time to get out and engage the passers by with a fun ‘Treasure Search” game in aid of the colliery, with Glenda offering 5 goes for a pound, picking a letter and number combination which was checked off against the board grid. Would players hit a prize, miss one, or get another free go?
Prizes were flying off the stall, and several visitors dig deep to have a few goes to see if they could win one of the prizes which the Friends had collected over the past year. Alongside the game, we had boxes of books of all types and we’re happy to unite several sets of readers with new titles for small donations to the colliery’s cause.
The group were well pleased with the response of the crowd to the game and to the story of the colliery site, with several former miners stopping for a chat and asking about progress on the site and the future plans around Hemingfield and Elsecar with the recent Heritage Action Zone status, and the funding of Elsecar and Wentworth for the Great Places scheme.
Right at the end of the day, after the dog shows and as the announcements were winding down, we felt the first drops of persistent rain, and so started to gather up the remaining items on the stall. Packing the books, prizes, and mining memorabilia away, the group loaded up 3 vehicles with the various bits and pieces, before collapsing the gazebo and heading home.
Forge, Furnace and Fun
The rain faded away as the gala free to a close, with people drifting home by the pond, or walked over to the Furnace Inn for refreshment.
Others walked home down the Forge playing fields themselves, down the “mound” which marks part of the old Milton Ironworks site – and I’ve of the exciting areas which the new Elsecar Heritage Action Zone archaeological investigations will hopefully shed more light on for us to learn about and celebrate.
Thanks to the organisers and all who attended the gala, the Friends raised funds for the Colliery and were happy to meet and share the story and future plans for the pit. Same time next year!?