Award joy for pit volunteers

YEARS of painstaking restoration work have been recognised after the Friends of Pleasley Pit swept to victory at the nation’s most prestigious heritage awards.

The historic Grade II-listed former colliery headstocks and winding house are now officially the best restored industrial buildings in the country.

Members of the Friends group attended the Palace Theatre in London last week to pick up an English Heritage Angel Award from Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Pleasley Pit Trust’s chairman Bob Metcalfe described the ceremony as ‘glittering’ and a just reward for a lot of hard work.

“We have slaved away for 14 or 15 years with one aim - to preserve the building and save a wonderful part of our heritage,” he said.

“You don’t go out looking for awards they just happen. But it is always nice to be recognised in such a way.

“It means a lot to all our volunteers and it is a shame that not all those who have contributed over the years are here to see it.”

The Angel Awards were launched to celebrate the efforts of local people in rescuing their heritage.

Friends of Pleasley Pit beat competition from other beautifully restored buildings, including the windmill at North Leverton, in north Nottinghamshire, and the former Bestwood Colliery, to win the industrial building or site section.

More than 200 heritage groups across the country applied to win an Angel Award and the shortlisted 16 were invited to the ceremony.

Carol Abbott, secretary of the Friends of Pleasley Pit, said: “The volunteers were all back on site two days later to continue their unstinting work to keep on with the restoration work of the engines.”

The Friends began their work to clean up the derelict industrial landscape and restore equipment when production at the pit ceased in the 1983.

Carol says at the time the Coal Board wanted to knock down the buildings and they were left neglected and vandalised.

The Land Trust provided advice and support, and they also received grants from the East Midlands Development Agency (emda).

A 90-hectare section of the adjacent Pleasley Pit Country Park has also been designated as a Local Nature Reserve this year.And with its industrial heritage and natural beauty, volunteers are hoping the former colliery will become a top tourist attraction.