The historic Pleasley Pit has been shortlisted for an English Heritage Angel Award. The awards, which were launched by Andrew Lloyd Webber, are probably the country’s most prestigious heritage prize.
The Heritage Angel Awards celebrate the work of individuals and groups who have saved a significant historic place that was at risk of being lost forever.
The Pleasley Pit Trust, who have worked tirelessly on the restoration of the former colliery, are one of sixteen local groups that have been chosen to go forward to the finals on 31st October. The pit is one of four site shortlisted in the ‘The Best Rescue of an Industrial Building or Site’ category. English Heritage experts met recently to sift carefully through more than 200 applications received looking for passion, perseverance and imagination as well as the scale of the challenge and how well it had been tackled before deciding on the final sixteen, which will compete in four categories.
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 an ancient monument that marks the glory days of the mining era. The site is now in the ownership to 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 be given funding for the long term management of the site. As Euan Hall, Chief Executive at the Land Trust, explained: “The Trust is a community led organisation. We protect the investment made in restoring sites like Pleasley and ensure that they can provide long term benefit to the community. Thanks to emda’s and HCA’s funding, we will be able to provide support to the Pit Trust for the management of this valuable site for many future generations.”
David Curtis, executive director for the HCA, commented: “It is great that our funding of this project has meant that a former dilapidated site can now be used by the community, and provides 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 also been working alongside the project partners to assist with the temporary site management and engine restoration works since 1997. 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.”