A lot has happened over the past few months and we have issued a couple of This and That posts to our members and volunteers . We thought it would be good to let our wider audience get a favour of what has been happening down at T’pit.
THIS AND THAT
In the world of heritage it has been rewarding to see the Spinners Mill making great progress on their scheme and improving the offer to visitors in telling them how cotton was spun and used in making clothes. Well done to Leigh Model Railway Society on another well-attended event and to our own Trustee, Sandra, in organising the Authors’ event. The way we are obviously stems from our heritage and we are putting together presentations and other documents that show how unique our facility is.
What is surprising to some of our visitors, is just how green our erstwhile industrial heritage has become. We are part of various organisations (see later) and are working with all of them to make our green bits even more attractive to families. We think our heritage and our green stuff and our fantastic nearby wetlands, flora and fauna make us very special.
Our volunteers’ evenings have been very successful and in a way, have caught us on the back foot in relation to getting things moving. We are trying hard to put square pegs in square holes, if you will pardon the expression. In other words, we are trying to match up the fantastic skills of our 70+ volunteers, with all the outstanding jobs that we have collectively identified. All we can ask is that you enjoy this short period of inactivity because, when we are fully organised, there is going to be plenty to do. By the way, if you hear of someone who wasn’t able to make the meetings so far, just let us know – we always have a job for a willing pair of hands.
We have had some great meetings with people from the Carbon Landscape, the Local Authority, the Bridgewater Canal Towpath people and we have a large number of organisations still to talk to. Schools are beginning to ask for appointments for this forthcoming year and behind the scenes, we are busy writing bids for various bits of funding. We have already been successful with one from the Local Authority for £2,000 – thank you – and we are in for one or two more. Any suggestions in this regard will be gratefully received.
You will be aware that Peaky Blinders filmed virtually a whole episode from our site and Steve has gone on to do some radio interviews and liaise with other television producers. It looks like Radio Lancashire will be doing a whole programme from the colliery in mid-September – they seem to be more excited than we are!
The stalwart team who have been renovating our engines are still doing it two or three times a week after all these years and thank you seems to be such a scant reward for their commitment. As a result of their continuing hard work, we still get lots of visitors, of all ages and had some people recently from Canada and Australia who have come to see us specifically to drink in our past. We are getting better at visitor reception and using Trust in Leigh’s caravan as a visitor reception point, we should be able to make our visitor experience much more appealing.
Unfortunately, we have had to spend some money fencing off the headgear to stop people climbing it or, for that matter, passing under it. So, the grants have been very useful but also we have had some wonderful donations in the last month where people have sent us money in memory of loved ones or simply because of the respect that they have for the mining industry and keeping its memory alive.
We have some more trips to make to the National Mining Museum and to Statham Lodge, Lymm and if you have any suggestions as to where we might learn something let us know.
We have had some visitors from further afield who feel very much at home when they come to our colliery. There are so many reminders as to how a colliery should look and feel. Friends of Jubilee Colliery in Oldham have been a couple of times, dressed for the part and we have had guys from Staffordshire and Southport as well as ex-miners from Parkside Colliery.
Shortly we will be offering some special pin badges for sale and we are trying to design and print some quality polo and t-shirts.
We have had some terrific support from organisations and companies and we are very grateful to Peel Holdings, Express IT, Palatine Paints, Shurtz and Cowgill Holloway (Accountants). Next week we are meeting up with the National Union of Mine Workers who have helped out in the past with printing and we are having a trip out on the canal as part of the Canal Festival.
Over the years some farsighted members started to lay down a railway line and we have some of the finest examples of mining locomotives to ride on the track. You can see that, in the next few months, we are hopefully going to create a platform and a very attractive half-mile experience into some very pleasant countryside. We think this will become a major attraction and might even spawn a Heritage Tourism venture.
This week we made a little progress in finding a living relative of one of the five brave men who lost their lives as a result of the tragic undergound mining accident back in June, 1939. We are working hard to find the more family members and to raise some money to be able to mark the 80th anniversary with a quality plaque and remembrance ceremony in 2019.
It becomes ever clearer to us, however it came about, that we hold the future of the last living heritage mining dodo in our hands. It is great to see so many other people who are as committed as we are to making certain that this dodo lives on.
Standby for Heidi shortly letting you know about the arrangements in early October to organise our volunteers into the various squads that are required to make us and keep us different.
We will speak again soon and remember – honour the past to inspire the future.
Lancashiire Mining Museum THIS AND THAT October, 2017
Welcome to This and That No. 2, which hopefully, gives you a feel for the various things that are going on down at T’Pit.
We have had a very busy month, with lots of activities, big and small and lots of visitors as well!
Perhaps the most important development is the fact that the number of volunteers continues to grow and some of those good people are already getting stuck in to the various tasks as set out by Steve on his Volunteering Weekends.
We have a special kind of bramble at the Colliery that seems to want to attack any human who approaches it! I don’t think I have seen as many scratched forearms, fingers, etc. but the humans are definitely winning. Seriously, it is quite amazing to see what a dedicated group of volunteers is able to achieve, no matter what the weather.
The news of the work that needs doing is spreading far and wide. Balfour Beattie a very large contractor, as part of its corporate social responsibility is hopefully sending us a large group people, for a couple of days, to help out and our own Council, Wigan MBC, through their Employer Volunteering Scheme, is also coming down to hopefully apply some of the paint supplied by our advisers, Palatine Paints.
Thank you to all these volunteers and organisations who are getting stuck in. It is much appreciated and it now allows us to clear out the Museum and give it a much-needed coat of paint but then reconstitute it in a new and exciting way, which we think will be much more interesting for our young people.
The current museum will not be lost during this refurbishment but will be curated using free standing display boards we already have on site, as a mini pop up exhibition in the engine house. This will tell the story of Coal, The industry, people and the site, in a different more interactive way than was possible in the old museum. This will be done in the next few weeks ready for the visit by over 100 Manchester University students, in two groups, by the middle of October and also allowing us to develop our school visits again.
The volunteers interested in the cataloging of our library upstairs have been working for a couple of hours over the past few weeks, on a Thurday evening. They have started the massive task of getting it in some sort of order so that eventually people will have a searchable database to allow them quickly to find either a book or photograph or document which we have in our archive.
Dave Pritchard, who is the lead volunteer of all things railway, is making a difference. The spare rail is being re-gauged and he now has his own stockyard from which to conduct operations. His squad of volunteers if growing nicely and we have some very skilled people involved.
We have been meeting with accountants and solicitors and planners in order to make sure that our tentative plans are within the law and so that we only, hopefully, do things once.
Radio Lancashire was with us for a whole afternoon transmitting directly from site across the airways and seemed to enjoy talking to various people, not only from our Society but from The Spinners and Old Leigh Photographs. There are some local people who are very well-versed in Heritage.
Other organisations on site over the past few weeks which give us massive advertising for the site were XS radio who used the site for a Bike and Brews meet and this week we are hosting Children’s BBC who are making a television programme on engineering for younger children,
We have met with people from Peel who are charged with upgrading the southern bridle path of the canal from round about the Old Boathouse Bridge down towards Walkden. Using the canal towpath for walking or cycling, etc. gets evermore popular and Steve and I found ourselves in Lymm at their Heritage Museum, which is also on the Bridgewater Canal. See Bridgewater Canal. When you look on the map, Astley is almost directly to the north of Lymm and between our towns is virtually the heartland of the Industrial Revolution. Lymm have their own Lancashire Traction Engine Rally and traditional narrow boats so who know what synergy the relationship will create.
We were ruminating the other day about the law of unintended consequences. We never thought, back in March, that we would become mini experts about mobile toilets! Hopefully within the next few weeks a full set of separate Male and Female toilets will be on site to upgrade this very important facility for our volunteers and visitors.
This week we have inputted the finishing touches to the organisation of an old friend in the Village – the Bonfire Night. This is to take place on Saturday, 4th November between 4.00 p.m. and 9.00 p.m. Ann and Rose are very much to the fore in organising it but we will have a licenced bar and all the stuff you would expect at a Village Bonfire. I am told that the treacle toffee is that strong, one piece and you will never talk for a week!! I make no further comments.
We are very lucky that Bob, a licenced pyrotechnician and his daughter, are going to run the fireworks display for us, free of charge. They have been doing this for over 30 years and they are the ones that run the biggest display in Leigh these days, the one at Leigh Miners Rangers Academy on Manchester Road, which talks place the weekend after ours on the 12th November. Our bonfire is designed for young families with no bangers, just lots of sparklers and music and fun. It will be gone by 9.00 p.m. but we will open at 4.00 p.m. for people to get into the atmosphere. I think the bonfire will be lit about 5.30 p.m. and the 15 minute firework display will be set off around 6.00 p.m.
There are a few unknowns like how many people will come but what we do know is that it will be free of charge to come in. We just ask that families donate whatever amount they would have spent on a box of fireworks for their back garden.
The next major event this past week has been the launch of the Carbon Landscape Project (Carbon Landscape Project). If you look at nothing else this month, from an educational point of view, just watch the video and look at the timeline of life. We have a new friend in Dr. Joanne Tippett from the Manchester Urban Institute. Together with Salford, Bolton and Wigan Councils, they eventually obtained a £3M+ grant from Heritage Lottery to launch the Carbon Landscape Project. This is to show how the various wetlands, meadows and other ‘green stuff’ has fought back over the years and is now something to be reckoned with.
The launch of this prestigious Project took place in the Engine House and the 70 souls who attended just seemed to love it and see our Colliery at the heart of nature fighting back. We are fully involved with them because, of course, it helps us to show what we want to do with nature going forward for the next 25 years, ensuring that we keep this green lung of ours for many generations to come – in other words, one for the dodo.
Again, when our magnificent site is graced with a half-mile railway, families from all over will come to feel and appreciate how important the mining industry was to our culture and how it can live alongside another greener way of life.
Coal, cotton and canals can sit alongside conservation and community. As always, we are going to need some funds to produce a woodland plan that will last for many years and help keep this wonderful facility and open space open for the next generations.
Our Facebook page has continued to grow with over 1800 likes now, with a growth of over 100 people in the last month and our website is also attracting a stream of interested people in the development of the site.
Trevor Barton MBE Steve Eckersley
Char of Trustees Project Leader
Red Rose Steam Society Lancashire Mining Museum