By Leah Conway
The National Coal Mining Museum announced they have reinstalled a newly restored winding wheel.
The giant pit wheel has become an iconic symbol of mining heritage in England; it would have been found in every pit village in England.
The National Coal Mining Museum has one of the last remaining mining headstocks; it is Grade II listed and 100 years old. However, recently, on a routine inspection, it was found to be rotting.
Mine Director, Shaun McLoughlin, said “As a part of a routine inspection I noticed the paint flaking and a bit of wood rot in the headstock, so I brought in a Timber specialist, who then identified that the wood rot was severe.
“We were fortunate to not be dependent on the structure and had contingencies in place to ensure the cage continued to run safely and seamlessly for the public.
“However, as it is a structure of such historic importance, we brought in conservation specialists to ensure that it maintains its historic integrity and to restore it to its former glory.
Museum Director Jenny Layfield further expresses the importance of the headstock.
She said, “The timber headgear at The National Coal Mining Museum dates from between 1905 and 1911 and used to be a vital component in running the mineshaft leading 140 meters from the surface to the coal seam.
“The headstock structure, which resembles a tower, houses the winding wheels which contains a rope which is attached to a cage which used to transport men and materials into the mine.
“While many people believe that the winding wheel on the top of our shaft operates the cage, it has been purely ornamental for quite a few years.
“By restoring the headstock, we have not only prevented the further degradation of a historically important structure, but we have opened up new ways to tell the story of mining.
“In the future, we could run the steam winding engine to turn the winding wheels for public demonstrations where the public could see how the winding wheel worked in all its glory.”
Over the last six months, the headstock has been repaired, which includes a newly restored winding wheel. The restoration was made possible by funding from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
The National Coal Mining Museum reinstalled the renovated headstock on 30th June, just in time to welcome visitors when the museum re-opens.
The museum is set to re-open on Wednesday 5th August to pre-booked visitors. To check for details or more information, you can check out their website here.