The first phase of a project to preserve a historic building from South Tyneside’s coal mining past has been completed.
St Hilda’s Pit Head has been given a new lease of life following a £548,000 cash injection from groups including South Tyneside Council and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The money has enabled the landmark building, under the guidance of Tyne and Wear Building Preservation Trust, to be restored, revamped and brought back into use as a community space.
The Trust has also been working with Mawson Kerr Architects and Meldrum Construction to rescue the ‘at risk’ Grade 2 listed building from falling into further disrepair.
Yesterday, former miners from Harton and Westoe Miners Banner Group visited the site along with the leader of South Tyneside Coun Iain Malcolm.
Coun Iain Malcolm, said: “Seeing St Hilda’s Pit Head given a new lease of life is a brilliant step towards a brighter future for this significant historical site in South Tyneside.
The restoration project has not only preserved a piece of industrial heritage for many years to come and made it more sustainable in the longer term but it also pays tribute to the borough’s rich and proud coal mining pastCoun Iain Malcolm
“We are delighted that investment in this building has helped to safeguard it for the future, transforming it into what will be a fantastic community asset. The restoration project has preserved a piece of industrial heritage for many years to come and made it more sustainable in the longer term. It also pays tribute to the borough’s rich and proud coal mining past.”
St Hilda’s Pit Head comprises a pumping station and winding house and is all that remains today of the large complex of original pit buildings which were demolished after it closed in 1940. The building was retained to provide ventilation for the newer Westoe Colliery but fell into disrepair after Westoe closed in 1992.
An explosion at St Hilda’s Colliery on June 28, 1839, which killed 51 men - the mine’s darkest day.
However, the report written after the accident helped to raise the issue of miners’ safety and improve conditions in Britain’s mines, saving many thousands of lives.
Ivor Crowther, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund North East, said: “This project is bringing St Hilda’s Pit Head back in to use for the benefit of communities in South Tyneside and beyond – a great investment of money raised by National Lottery players.”
The Trust, now aims, to help bring new life to the building and will work with new tenant Community Arts Project North East and the Banner Group on Heritage Outreach.
Fiona Tobin , Project Officer for St Hilda’s Pit Head, said: “This has been such a brilliant project to work on. I can’t wait for the opportunities we’ve got planned to come around so people can get inside and see the potential of this amazing space.”
Fiona is collecting mining memorabilia to be displayed in the lift cage and is also accepting bookings for performances, rental opportunities and exhibitions at St Hilda’s Pit Head.”
Ben Hudson, Director of Community Arts Project North East, said: “We are incredibly excited to become the tenants of St Hilda’s Pit Head and are already looking forward to hosting many interesting events and community activities at the newly refurbished building.
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