The historic Pleasley Pit has won a prestigious national award, highlighting the Derbyshire site as the finest restored industrial building in the country.
The Pit has received an English Heritage Angel Award. The awards, which were launched and part funded Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber are probably the country’s most important heritage prize, they celebrate the work of individuals and groups who have saved a significant historic place that was at risk of being lost forever. The award is deserved recognition for The Pleasley Pit Trust, who have worked tirelessly for over fifteen years on the restoration of the former colliery.
Andrew Lloyd Webber chaired the judging panel which comprised Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, author and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg, Charles Moore of the Telegraph, historian Bettany Hughes and the Bishop of London, the Right Revd Richard Chartres.
Andrew Lloyd Webber said: “All 16 shortlisted groups were exceptional and the judges had a hard time deciding between them. But in the end the winners stood out for their passion, perseverance and imagination, for the scale of the challenges they had taken on and for the legacy they leave behind – a secure future for beautiful historic buildings which without them could so easily have simply disappeared.
Work on multi-million pound project to transform a disused colliery site and bring it back into beneficial use for the local community was undertaken with investment from East Midlands Development Agency (emda) via the Homes and Communities Agency’s (HCA’s) National Coalfields Programme. The restoration project has cleaned up the industrial dereliction left over from the closure and demolition of the Colliery in the 1980s, and created a landscaped gateway entrance to the Pleasley Pit Country Park. It has also enabled the restoration of the ancient monument that marks the glory days of the mining era. The site is now in the ownership of the Land Trust who provide the Pleasley Pit Trust with advice and support on the management of the historic site.
The Land Trust has also been given funding for the long term management of the site. As Euan Hall, Chief Executive at the Land Trust, explained: “The Land Trust is a community led organisation. We protect the investment made in restoring sites like Pleasley and ensure that when a community group such as the Pleasely Pit Trust put their heart and soul into a project their work is supported. Vitally we can also say that thanks to emda’s and HCA’s funding, the future of this heritage Angel is secured and we are able to support to the Pit Trust in the management of this valuable site for many future generations.”
Graham Dobbs, Head of Area at the HCA, commented: “It is great that Pleasley Pit has been recognised nationally. Our funding has meant that a former dilapidated site can now be used by the community, and provide a valuable asset that not only pays respect to the mining heritage, but also adds to the long term sustainability of the site.”
The Pleasley remediation project has spanned several phases over the past few years. The initial phase involved the remediation of the land and development work on the site, including landscaping and construction of a car parking facility.
Phase two focused on the conservation of the site’s key features, including the remaining colliery engine houses and the iconic head gears, along with other Grade II listed structures.
The Pleasley Pit Trust has been instrumental in the restoration work. Speaking on their behalf, Bob Metcalfe said: “The changes to the buildings and site are quite unbelievable. 15 years ago the place was a mess floor plates missing, engine parts missing, trees growing through parts of the engines, the remaining part of the roof on the verge of collapse, everything covered in rust and pigeon guano. The future of the buildings and structures is now assured”, says Robert. “A whole generation who will never know ‘how it used to be’ will at least to be able to marvel at these survivors of the great age of steam.”