Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign
Coal Industry

Doncaster pithead structures saved from demolition at eleventh hour

This article by Sarah Marshall originally appeared in The Star

David Douglass, of the Hatfield Main Colliery Committee Heritage Association pictured speaking during the rally. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP Colliery MC 2

David Douglass, of the Hatfield Main Colliery Committee Heritage Association pictured speaking during the rally. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP Colliery MC 2

Campaigners battling to preserve a piece of Doncaster’s mining history have won their fight with less than 48 hours to spare – after Historic England granted two pithead structures protected status.

The pithead structure at Hatfield Colliery – one of the last three deep coal mines in the UK – was due to be demolished tomorrow (Thursday, November 12) by Doncaster council in order to prevent ‘serious health and safety incidents’.

However, this decision has now been overturned after an application to Historic England calling for the pithead structure to be given grade 2 protected status was awarded yesterday – with less than 48 hours to spare.

The application was submitted by members of the Save Hatfield Main Headgear campaign group, comprised of former miners’ and residents, who launched the campaign after the pit was closed a year ahead of schedule in July.
Ex-miner and campaigner Mick Lanaghan called Historic England’s decision to award the headgear at Hatfield colliery protected status, and add it to the list of protected buildings of architectural and historical and interest a victory for the group, but added that they still had far to go.

“It’s helping to preserve our legacy,” said Mr Lanaghan, of West Avenue, Stainforth.

The 56-year-old, who worked at Hatfield Main for over a decade, added: “We’re all still in a state of shock. We had resigned ourselves to the fact that we would lose one of them, but we didn’t expect this.

“It’s a piece of Doncaster’s mining history and you can see it from the road, from the rail network and even from the air – it’s our Angel of the North.

“You speak to ex-miners who say that when you used to come home, after being away, you would know you were home when you would see the headgear and they miss that when it’s been knocked down – but we’ve been able to save ours. “It’s important to us as a community. But this is just the beginning – now we have to find funding streams for it.

“But we’d like to be confident that this is something we can achieve.”

The closure of the colliery in the summer marked the end of an era for the coal industry and resulted in the loss of 430 jobs.

Existing landowners, the Crown Estate, having no responsibility for the site for legal reasons and with no other body addressing this issue, the council say they have been left with no option but to ‘step in’.

Doncaster Council’s Chief Executive Jo Miller has also criticised Historic England’s decision.

She told the Free Press: “We are all immensely proud of Doncaster’s coal mining heritage, but the fact is that these dilapidated head stocks are an accident waiting to happen.

“The decision taken by Historic England appears to have been taken with no thought to a funding plan for a decaying structure.

“This will put the public at risk in the short term and could cost Doncaster taxpayers millions over the coming years.

“Local people should not be forced to cover the cost for a site which is privately owned.

“We are urgently meeting with Historic England to secure the site and make it safe.”

The costs of making the existing site safe and secure without demolition work are estimated to be £1 million with significant on-going maintenance and security costs every year.