Monday, 30 November 2009

Brinsley Headstocks Revisited

Not so long ago, I posted some pics of Brinsley Headstocks along with a short article about their local and literary significance, information for visitors to the area etc. (`Brinsley Headstocks and Other Such Things`, Wed 17 November 2009).

Now here they are again, on the cover of Ian Brown`s `Nottinghamshire Industrial Heritage` booklet ;

Interestingly, the book provides the information that the restored headstocks which can be seen at Brinsley date from 1875 and are wooden tandem headstocks. As you`ll see from the pic below and in previous postings, they are quite different in style from, say, the Shipley Woodside Mining Industry Memorial.

Brown`s book ranges widely over such areas as railways, canals and waterways, roads and bridges, mines and quarries, water pumping stations, various aspects of the textile industry and much else.

As you`ll now doubt have gathered by now, there are various links from this blog to sites relating to (among other things) the East Midlands, it`s history and environment, either at the end of articles or on the right-hand side of the blog. 

For anyone interested in Mr Brown`s book, you can use the link above to order via antiqbook. Postage will be extra, but it should not be expensive to post. Sorry, but at present we have one copy only.


Sunday, 29 November 2009

Thomas Richardson MBE, of 12 Squadron Bomber Command and later a Trade Unionist

Seen in Marlpool cemetery on the Notts / Derbyshire border, was a gravestone with this unusual inscription ;

"In memory of Thomas Richardson MBE who served during World War Two, Number 12 Squadron,  Bomber Command, rear gunner and flight instructor. He volunteered age 17 to fight and save his country and the world from oppression. Without the men of Bomber Command there would have been no victory and we owe them our gratitude.

He also served as a trade union representative and later as a social worker.

He fought against poverty and injustice wherever he saw it".

It would be interesting to find out more about Mr Richardson, he sounds an excellent man. Unfortunately, it does look as if it would be quite a time-consuming thing to do, and at present my spare time is severely limited. Hopefully I`ll be able to return to the subject in due course.

On the same visit, I did notice another unusual epitaph, though sadly I wasn`t able to get a picture of it. The gravestone concerned related, if memory serves, to a Mr Bas Rowley. His gravestone carried two pictures, one a drum kit, the other a picture of Mr Rowley himself, a jovial-looking individual. His epitaph was given in three memorable lines, which hopefully I can remember correctly  ; "In heaven you take your stand / Now God can form / A rock `n` roll band". I know nothing about Mr Rowley or the unknown author of this verse, but I warmed to both immediately !

Around and About # 1 : More About Mining on the Notts / Derbyshire Border

This is the Shipley Woodside Mining Industry Memorial, located on the edge Of Shipley Country Park, in the Heanor/Shipley/Marlpool are on the Notts / Derbyshire Border. Mining took place in the area now occupied by the Country Park for around 250 years, ending in the `60s with the closure of the Woodside and Coppice pits, though there was short-term opencast mining within the boundaries of the park from 1970 - 74.

While the surrounding area was eventually converted into a country park, the site of Woodside (I presume it was sometimes referred to as Shipley Wooodside to prevent confusion with the pit of the same name in Etherley) was rented out to private companies, firstly to form the short-lived Britannia Park, then to the more successful American Adventure Theme Park. At present, that area stands empty and the buildings that formed the American Adventure are mostly demolished.

The memorial is located  near to the former entrance to American Adventure. The winding wheels are original, but the headstocks on which they stand are a replica, approximately a third of the height of the originals.

Recently, coal-mining has returned to the area, with opencast work taking place just outside the Park boundaries, on land adjacent to an unmade road known as Bells Lane, which leads from Shipley to Smalley.

The development has not been without it`s critics. Environmentalists campaigned against the project on the grounds that they were opposed to over-reliance on fossil fuels, and against the loss of a popular local beauty spot. The local authority rejected the application, but were over-ruled by central government. While some locally welcomed the return of `king coal` to the area, in fact open-cast work is more akin to quarrying  / civil engineering  than traditional mining and is not thought to have generated a significant number of local jobs.

Personally, I was opposed to the development, on environmental grounds and on the grounds that local people lost a stunningly beautiful area and got little back in the way of jobs etc. Against that, you could argue that the environmental impact of open-cast work is considerably less than that of traditional mining - the area now occupied by the Country Park was once covered largely by enormous spoil heaps and polluted lakes, and that`s before you take into account the death, injury and illness associated with the old mines. The company carrying out the work expect to leave the area after eight years and will carry out restoration work such as tree-planting before going. Certainly, there has been some outstanding work done to convert former mining sites in the area into nature reserves. 

There are many sites which refer to Shipley Country Park, which is an excellent place, popular with tourists, local people and walkers. There are two local history groups that I know of in the area ; Heanor and District  Local History Society - and Langley Mill Heritage Group - Lastly, whatever your views on mining past and present, it`s worth taking a look at

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Brinsley Headstocks and Other Such Things

All being well, you should now be looking at pictures we took recently of the restored headstocks from the former colliery at Brinsley, North Notts, now permanently on display at Brinsley Headastocks nature reserve / beauty spot. Apart from any other considerations, Brinsley pit had an important literary connection - the mine was the scene of an accident in which D H Lawrence`s uncle James was killed by a rockfall, an incident which formed the inspiration for two of his stories, The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd and The Odour of Chrysanthemums. Sadly, such accidents were all too common.                                             

The Headstocks and surrounding area are well worth a visit, and are situated within easy reach of the D H Lawrence Birthplace Museum and Durban House Heritage Centre. The Birthplace museum is worth a visit and has a well-stocked gift shop if you like that sort of thing. If you prefer the outdoor life you could  follow the 5-or-so mile Miners` Meander (a footpath  from the Headstocks to other areas of local and/or mining interest), or possibly cross the road from the car park and take the foootpath to Aldercar, which I`m told is a very attractive walk if the weather stays OK, but pretty grim otherwise. It`s on my `things to do` list at the moment ! 

Alternatively, with a little planning, I would think it would be possible to pull in a trip to Loscoe Dam*, not so well-known, and not really on the `tourist track`, but very attractive and popular with local people, walkers and visitors to the nearby nature reserve, the name of which escapes me.


I`m sure there`s no shortage of Lawrence-related material on the web, but here are a couple of locally-based sites ; 

D H Lawrence`s Eastwood, a site run by Eastwoodian rhymester Gavin, who endearingly declares "if life begns at 40, I`m still a teenager" -

and Notts Industrial Heritage Association -

Loscoe Dam has it`s own site -


Equally, there`s no shortage of books by/about D H Lawrence. One that may not be so well-known is Bridget Pugh`s The Country of My Heart ; A Local Guide to D H Lawrence, which has appeared in various editions over quite a period of time, usually published by local authorities and/or local history societies in (presumably) relatively limited numbers. 

In a spirit of enlightened self-interest, it just happens we have a couple of copies on sale at present ! Just click on the links below for details ; 

Postage is extra, but they are not large books and postage will not be expensive.


* An attempt by myself and friends to walk around Brinsley, then to Aldercar and subsequently to Loscoe Dam early in 2010 can best be described as `over ambitious`. Would recommend visits to these sites, but not necessarily on the same day, unless you are possessed of superhuman levels of fitness ! If attempting the `Miner`s Meander` around Brinsley I`d suggest planning your route beforehand as it is not readily apparent where the path is.