Ben’s Visit to the Surface Gallery

Yesterday we welcomed Ben with his grandparents, as the first wheelchair user in our surface mine display based on a training gallery formerly used at Kellingley Colliery, the last deep coal mine in the UK. Our volunteers have done a great job in turning this into a great facility.

We acquired it a few years ago as a bare frame and erected it on site behind the mining cage which would become the entrance to the display. It has been enclosed and dressed with artefacts from our collection to look like a colliery roadway.

It’s a great addition to the site and amongst its uses is offering people who might not be able to do the underground tour, such as Ben, a taste of what it might be like to be in a coal mine.

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Mine Tours Return

The news we’ve all been waiting for… we’re finally able to restart the underground mine tours! We’ve consulted with the powers that be and have the go ahead to run tours after the restrictions are lifted, so from Saturday 24th we’ll be taking visitors underground for the first time in nearly 16 months.

Of course, Covid is still out there so we will have to take some precautions as its a relatively enclosed space with a ventilation draught. Face coverings will be required underground, and we’ll take one social group up to 6 people at a time (we’ll split larger groups).

Mine tours run at weekends, from 11am to 3pm on the hour. £7 for Adults, £5 for Children and Senior Citizens, minimum age is 5 years old.

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Opening the New Surface Gallery

On Sunday we held the official opening of our New Surface Gallery. This is a recreation of a section of a coal mine above ground that is accessible to a wider audience who may not be able or want to go underground. It will also be a great addition to our educational visits. Amongst the guests invited were Aaron Bell MP and the new Mayor and Mayoress of Newcastle-under-Lyme, Ken Owen and Rachel Eaton.

The gallery itself originally came from Kellingley Colliery after it closed in 2015, ending deep coal mining in the UK, and was used for training miners on the surface. Our mining team re-erected it at Apedale and have been hard at work turning it into our latest exhibit. The gallery is entered through a ‘cage’ that used to lower miners down the shaft at Annesley Colliery, adding to the experience. This has been on site from the early days of the Heritage Centre and is current undergoing renovation to preserve it.

After the opening, a memorial service was held outside by Rev Simon Boxall, for the Holditch Colliery Disaster. On July 2nd, 1937 a fire broke out on one of the coal faces at Holditch. 30 men lost their lives due to the fire and subsequent explosions. Jim Worgan, a local mining historian and former curator of Chatterley Whitfield Mining Museum gave an account of the events of that day.

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May 17th Covid Changes

We’ve finally got to 17th May and another step towards normality. As of today we are able to seat people inside, although we still have to have the social distancing measures in place, you should know the drill by now! Museums can also open again, so we’ll be back to our usual opening of Saturday and Sunday. Still no word from the powers that be on mine tours I’m afraid, but we’re still running Sunday surface tours.

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Entrance Road Repairs Sat 15th May

On Saturday 15th there will be repair work going on the Loomer Road entrance road to the country park. Potholes and the car park ramp will be fixed. While the work is going on the rangers plan to close the barrier, so please use other access points, other car parks or walk in from Loomer Road. We’ll be opening as usual during the works.

Any queries, please visit the country park Facebook group:- https://www.facebook.com/groups/apedalewardens/

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Surface Tours

Saturday 17th April is the day that we re-open along with the Apedale Valley Light Railway, and it’ll be a steam service too. We’ll just have the café open, but on Sundays we’ll also be running our Surface Tours as we cant go underground yet. The Surface tours will now feature the chance to see the Tinsley Winding Engine running. There will be small charge this time (£3 adults, £1 concessions) which will help to cover the cost of fuel, oil and grease, and also go towards the further restoration of the engine.

For more information see :- https://www.apedale.co.uk/re-opening-information/

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Re-opening 17th April

We’re happy to announce that we will be reopening our café on Saturday 17th April, now that we are entering step 2 of the reopening plan. Its no coincidence that the Railway will also be starting their 2021 season on the same day.

Unfortunately museums cant open until May and ours is no exception. Likewise mine tours aren’t allowed, and we don’t have any indication as to when we will be able to restart. As soon as we know we’ll post the news here.

We do plan to run surface tours again with a little extra surprise. Stay tuned for more information on that soon.

For full information click here.

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Happy New Year

We’d like to wish all of our visitors, volunteers and friends a happy and safe New Year. This year has been a very strange one, it started well enough, but we soon had to close due to the first lockdown. We opened again in July, albeit without being able to run mine tours, only to be shut again in the November lockdown and ending up in Tier 3 meaning that we still can’t open. Our volunteers did get manage to work on quite a few projects this year despite the restrictions; our surface gallery project made big steps forward, we had a canopy erected over our outside seating to keep the weather off, new signs, improvements to our forge and the rear yard has been cleared and organised to name but a few. For 2021, there seems to be light at the end of the Covid tunnel and once we are back at Tier 2 we can look at reopening. Hopefully sat some point we’ll get the green light to resume mine tours from the powers that be, although that’s likely to be much further down the road.
The snowy pictures were taken around Apedale this week.

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2nd Lockdown

Last night the government announced a second lockdown and so we must temporarily close once more from 5th November. Thanks to everyone who has supported the Heritage Centre through the summer, both our regular customers who came back, and the new faces that discovered us. When the first lockdown ended we opened with a limited service and gradually reintroduced our menu and some indoor seating. Unfortunately we were not allowed to resume mine tours, but did run free surface tours on Sundays.

We look forward to welcoming you all back in December, and hopefully resuming mine tours sometime in 2021.

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We’re pleased to announce that we are re-opening on the 4th July! As with other businesses there are changes to our normal operations. Initially we’ll be only be opening at weekends. The Cafe will only serving drinks and snacks, at least to begin with. We have looked at the available space from all angles and decided that this is the best course of action. Hopefully it wont be too long before the guidelines are relaxed further and we can start to cook again.

We’re also not going to be able to run any underground tours, as tunnels with a strong ventilation draughts are not the best place to be with other people in a pandemic! To make up for this we’ve devised a surface tour. We wont be charging for this but would appreciate your generosity at the donation box. Its something a different if you have already done the mine tour.

The museum will be open, with a few small alterations to form a one way system where needed.

You can find the more details of the changes here.

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