It has 100 years of industrial history behind it – and the campaign is on to keep it alive for future generations.
Hatfield Main Colliery closed in 2015, after nearly 100 years of coal mining at the site. But more than three years after production ended, the iconic winding gear still stands at the pit head.
The council had planned to demolish the winding gear – but a successful campaign to get the structure listed kept it in place.
Its future is not completely certain.
But a group of residents have set out to preserve the site and use it to preserve memories of the past while creating new businesses for the future.
Former miners in Stainforth have set up the Hatfield Main Heritage Trust, and are bidding to take over part of the site.
The group chairman, Keith Allsopp, is a former miner, as is his deputy, Mick Lanaghan.
Mick said: “The winding gear that remains here at Hatfield is now the last in South Yorkshire. We former a trust to put together proposals to find a use for the site.
“There are kids growing up who don’t know anything about coal.
“We’d like to have both the winding gears protected and lit up, and we’d like to use the winding houses, possibly for a recording studio, or event a wedding venue.
“We are looking to put together a feasibilty study and a business plan, and we are fundraising for this.
“Once that is in place, it opens the door to grants.”
The site is currently owned by a bank in the Netherlands, ING Bank.but its use is currently in legal limbo.
The trust is hoping to get hold the the land in the future. They hope to raise money through grants, and also to work together with future developers about using the site to complement other possible uses.
Chairman Mr Allsopp said the aim would be to turn this site into a heritage centre and a country park consisting of a conference centre and sports hall with a museum and antiques centre with small workshops for artisans and crafting at a reasonable price.
He said: “We would like to see this put to good use. It has a railway station. People could come here and use it as a heritage centre, like they do at Elsecarr, in Barnsley.”
Plans drawn up by architects for the trust show buildings being used as a museum, as well as space within the winding towers. They also show workshops and a central square, and art galleries.
Fundraising has started, with the first goal to raise the money for a n engineering report on the state of the winding gear, with a feasibility study to follow.
Pop star Paul Heaton is backing the plans for the heritage centre – and has helped move fundraising forwards with a’substantial’ donation.
The Housemartins and Beautiful South singer visited Hatfield Main to unveil a memorial to the miners who took part in the 1984-85 miners strike.
But before he unveiled the new memorial, Paul announced he would be handing the royalties he had received from the 1980s Housemartins track Coal Train to Hatfield Main to the trust.
He said: “The strike was really important to a lot us us – obviously you living here, it was particularly important. But I’ve said this before when I’ve been back here, that for me it wasn’t the end of the strike, it was the beginning of my politics.
“Whenever I think about Hatfield over the years, it reminds me about how brilliant the people were here, not just during the strike but I got the impression when I was here that they had always been like that, for years and years before it. So that was the beginning for me, not the end. The end of the miners strike, I took some of the politics, and I took some of the examples, and took them on into my own music. Without that the Housemartins would never have existed. We'd have just been an ordinary pop band with nothing to say. But we weren’t, we had something to say, and we were driven on by you people, and I just want to thank you for that. You gave me my first opportunity to open this big gob and actually say something.
“Shortly after this strike began, in its mid period, round about October, in the Housemartins, we started playing this instrumental, called Coal Train to Hatfield Main.
“I just wanted to present the heritage trust with a cheque. I got my manager to count up the PRS (Performing Rights Society payments) on Coal Train to Hatfield Main so I could give a bit back to you.
“It won’t be the end of things. I intend this to be, as it has been, a long relationship. I’m not going anywhere. I’m here to stay and I’ll always come back. Hopefully if tonight goes well, we could make this a more regular event. You won’t be forgotten because you are part of me and part of my politics. You are a shining example. I came here when I was 22., and since then I’ve never swayed from that path. telling the Tory b******* what I think of them.”
Paul used to join the miners on their picket lines in the 1984 strike before the Housemartins became well known, having met miners from the colliery in Hull.
He also joined them for a march to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the strike, and supports the plan for a heritage venue.
After unveiling the memorial last week, he and fellow singer Beautiful South singer Jacqui Abbott performed a gig at Hatfield Main Working Men’s Club. on East Lane, Stainforth, opposite the strike memorial. When they went on sale, tickets sold out in two hours.
Log onto https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/hatfield-main-heritage-trust to donate the trust’s crowdfunding page.
Hatfield Main’s memorial to the 1984-85 miners strike was replaced after it was accidentally struck by a lorry.
The memorial was put in place after the strike, with a polished stone plaque at the foot of the remnants of a broken lamppost, which was used during the strike to block the entrance to the mine.
The rest of the memorial was built using stone found around the site, including stones picked up from underground roof falls in the mine.
The town’s undertakers, Carpenters Funeral Services, stepped in to provide the stonework for free after hearing it had been damaged, with the design on the stone drawn up by miner’s son Carl Lanaghan.
Carl’s dad Mick Lanaghan said: “We’re really proud of the memorial. The kids in the village have always looked after it, and there’s never been any vandalism. People come and leave flowers there. It was just unfortunate that there was an accident which broke part of it.”
The memorial carries the words: “Hatfield NUM 1984-1985 miners strike.
“Here stood the miners and familes of the National Union of Mineworkers in defence of their jobs, communities and against industrial genocide.
“Loyal proud and true, never forget, never forgive.”