Hatfield pit headgear row rumbles on as last pit closes

Demolition work continues at Hatfield Colliery near Doncaster, as a dispute over the future of the distinctive headgear at the pit shows no sign of being resolved.
Demolition work continues at Hatfield Colliery near Doncaster, as a dispute over the future of the distinctive headgear at the pit shows no sign of being resolved.

As the UK’s last deep coal mine closes, a dispute over the future of the distinctive headgear at another Yorkshire pit shows no sign of being resolved.

Campaigners have blocked the demolition of the two 31-metre high landmarks which stand above the now-filled 800-metre shafts at Hatfield Colliery near Doncaster.

Demolition work continues at Hatfield Colliery near Doncaster, as a dispute over the future of the distinctive headgear at the pit shows no sign of being resolved.

Demolition work continues at Hatfield Colliery near Doncaster, as a dispute over the future of the distinctive headgear at the pit shows no sign of being resolved.

They managed to get the structures, which can be seen for miles around, listed status earlier this year - a move which has provided a headache for Doncaster Council, which has inherited responsibility for safety at the site.

The council estimates it will take £1 million to make the huge headstocks safe and open them up to the public. This is money it says it does not have in difficult financial times.

But the campaigners have questioned the council’s figures and believe there is no appetite in the various authorities concerned with the site to mark the passing of the pit.

Tracey Harwood of Doncaster Council said the authority is keen to preserve mining heritage if it can.

Demolition work continues at Hatfield Colliery near Doncaster, as a dispute over the future of the distinctive headgear at the pit shows no sign of being resolved.

Demolition work continues at Hatfield Colliery near Doncaster, as a dispute over the future of the distinctive headgear at the pit shows no sign of being resolved.

She said the council is happy to help the community find a funding partner to help maintain the site but it will not be taking over the structures, which are now owned by the Crown Estate.

“In a time of austerity, the council does not have that kind of money and it’s not actually our land to take ownership of, “ Ms Harwood said.

“As far as we’re concerned, it’s obviously a dangerous structure. We need to look out with them for any opportunities there are for an external funder or somebody to come forward to develop the site.”

She said: “Our concern all along is making sure the site is safe as possible should anybody get on.”

Demolition work continues at Hatfield Colliery near Doncaster, as a dispute over the future of the distinctive headgear at the pit shows no sign of being resolved.

Demolition work continues at Hatfield Colliery near Doncaster, as a dispute over the future of the distinctive headgear at the pit shows no sign of being resolved.

But campaign chairman Dave Douglass said the council’s £1 million price tag for work is ridiculous.

Mr Douglass said there are examples of headstocks being preserved around the country at a fraction of the cost.

He thinks the Coal Authority, which manages the effects of past coal mining for the Government, should be doing more to help.

“They owe the mining communities of Doncaster a debt,” Mr Douglass said.

Demolition work continues at Hatfield Colliery near Doncaster, as a dispute over the future of the distinctive headgear at the pit shows no sign of being resolved.

Demolition work continues at Hatfield Colliery near Doncaster, as a dispute over the future of the distinctive headgear at the pit shows no sign of being resolved.

“The contribution of those who worked in the 12 big pits of Doncaster for generations is immense. All we are trying to do is to save two big structures and you would honestly think we were asking for the Crown Jewels.”

Hatfield Colliery closed earlier this year. Demolition work is continuing at the site, with virtually all the buildings apart from the headgear being knocked down.