Headstocks adventure zone plans ‘could cost £25m’

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  • Plans in place to convert old headstocks into an andrenalin-fuelled adventure zone.
  • Zip-wire rides, tethered parachute drops, abseiling, climbing and indoor skydiving are all included.
  • Campaigners say it could take up to £25m to make the dream a reality.
  • English Heritage have given it backing saying the loss of the towers would be ‘incalculable’.

It seems to divide opinion, but love them or hate them, the headstocks in Clipstone can’t be ignored.

Given that they tower 220ft over the village as a permanent reminder of its mining past, it is impossible to ignore them anyway.

Clipstone Headstocks

Clipstone Headstocks

Like its industrial legacy, they stand redundant, moth-eaten and a throwback from a time that many people are eager to move on from.

For 13 years an application to have them toppled and the land utilised for housing has been pending, but with a grade II-listed status they remain slowly decaying behind electric anti-intruder fences.

They have become a magnet for vandals and even thrill seekers, who have posted videos of themselves on the internet climbing the towers.

And it is this that has led to the Clipstone Colliery Regeneration Group Ltd to draw up ambitious blueprints to transform the site into a

thrill-seeking destination with zip-wire rides, tethered parachute drops, abseiling, climbing and indoor skydiving.

“People have been climbing up there so if that’s what people want to do then we thought why not give them that, provided in a safe environment,” said Mansfield resident Denise Barraclough, who is leading the group.

“There’s an existing market for adrenalin sports.

“There’s a lot of possibilities and we’re not saying we will do all these things but they are ideas to engage people.”

Unsurprisingly, there’s backing from English Heritage as well, which is desperate to see the towers remain.

Sir Neil Cossons, former chairman of English Heritage, spoke to Chad, saying: “The great twin headstocks of Clipstone Colliery are the proudest and most visible monument to coal mining in Nottinghamshire.

“What was once an opportunity for the nation to preserve one of its great historic places has now become an obligation. Clipstone cannot now be demolished. The outcry would be incalculable. Continued neglect is unacceptable. The time has come to find a way forward. The debate is no longer about whether Clipstone should be retained but how.”

Much has been written about the growing number of people, largely from Clipstone, who want the headstocks pulling down.

But armed with more than 3,000 signatures from an electronic and paper petition to preserve the towers, Denise says the tide is beginning to turn.

Preservation plans will, however, take money. Serious money. Tens of millions in fact.

For Denise, an experienced surveyor, the challenge holds little fear.

“I’ve done the ground work and it would not surprise me if it cost about £25m, but it doesn’t put me off,” she said.

“I’m a surveyor and I’ve been working in property for years - I’m used to big figures!”

And she is confident the Heritage Lottery Fund can play a big part in bridging the financial gap.

She added: “The Heritage Lottery Fund have been criticised for not supporting industrial heritage in the past so are keen to see this move forward. They see this an exciting opportunity that they have called it the ‘Eden Project for the Midlands’.”

If the group gets their own way, much more is planned than just adventure and adrenalin.

A music studio has been pencilled in, as have business units, conference and community facilities, potential for a library and youth areas and of course, an educational heritage area, tipping a hard hat to its mining past.

“When you explain to people what we’re trying to do, they are very up for it,” said Denise.

“There are some people out there who still have perception that they need to come down, but people can now see that there’s huge potential.”