Sunday, 29 November 2009

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

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