The National Coal Mining Museum for England opens up a rare survivor of mining heritage to visitors for one weekend only
As part of this year’s Heritage Open Weekend, 13 – 14 September, The National Coal Mining Museum for England will once again allow access to visitors to see inside the Screens Building – a rare survivor of what was a very common structure across the English coalfields.
The Heritage Open Weekend allows public access to specific restricted areas of museums and cultural sites throughout the UK, and the tour of the Screens Building by former miners will allow visitors to enjoy and experience a fascinating ‘behind the scenes’ look into the museum.
The Screens Building, which was used to sort the coal from the waste rock and debris, dates from around 1904. The building received tubs of coal from the landing, which were then moved to the top of the screening plant and emptied, before returning to the cages to go underground to be refilled. The plant itself was - and still is - effectively a series of very large sieves that sorted the coal into different sizes that would initially have been loaded into railway wagons on the colliery’s own private railway but were later transported by lorry when the railway closed in 1942.
Andy Smith, Deputy Director and Mine Manager for NCMME comments:
“The Heritage weekends are a great chance for visitors to see the backbone of the museum and are always incredibly popular. Opening up the Screens Building allows the public to experiencea unique and intriguing workplace with a knowledgeable guide, and it’s always a fantastic chance to show off the colliery buildings not normally seen by the public.”
In addition to the Screens Building opening, the museum's displays will be open as normal and underground tours in the 140m deep New Hards coal seam will also be running throughout each day, including the furnace shaft display; a glass walkway over a 140m deep mine shaft.
The Screens Building can only be accessed via a number of steep, narrow metal walkways, and the Museum therefore regrets that there is no wheelchair or pram access to this building. The Museum otherwise has excellent access facilities, and wheelchair access can be granted on the underground tour with prior notice.
The National Coal Mining Museum for England aims to keep coal mining alive by collecting and preserving the industry’s rich heritage, creating enjoyable and inspiring ways to learn for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.
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