A CONSERVATION group in which volunteers give their time to protect the remaining buildings of the Barnsley Main Colliery has been nominated for a Proud of Barnsley award.

The Barnsley Main Heritage Group was formed back in 2016 and is an independent group of local people working alongside Barnsley Council and the Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership to conserve what remains of the colliery site.

Over the past three years the group has transformed the overgrown and vandalised site into a well-maintained and accessible-to-all heritage site.

Grants and donations from different organisations have allowed the group to install a picnic bench and bike racks on site, as well as regularly mow the lawn and take care of general maintenance work themselves.

Earlier in the year the group set up a Crowdfunding page to try and raise enough money to purchase a small pop-up museum on the site.

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Plans are progressing for this and a shipping container which will house the museum has already been purchased and painted.

“The group continues to reach out to the local community in order to increase awareness and use of the site, as well as to strengthen and expand the volunteer team,” said volunteer Sarah Dewey.

“We have been very successful in working with the younger volunteers, bringing down the group’s average age substantially.

“We have established links with the local gym, Barnsley Barbell, and one of its business partners now regularly volunteers with us.

“On our monthly Sunday work session an enthusiastic group of gym members also join us for a very productive workout doing manual labour on the site.

“On our workdays we are keen to share the story of Barnsley Main and the work of the group with members of the public who increasingly visit the site on a casual basis.

“We are now able to offer hot drinks and biscuits to visitors which has led to more leisurely reminiscing for volunteers and visitors alike.

“We are thrilled that the site is now safe enough to welcome our first school visit in September for an art and drama lesson.

“Also Cub and Scout groups plan to base some of their outdoor activities on site.

“The group has been keen to work with other voluntary groups to improve the wider local area.

“One of the most encouraging aspects of the year has been the significant increase in members of the public visiting the site throughout the week whether to reminisce, photograph the building or simply to walk their dog.

“And as a bonus there is no doubt in our mind that increased footfall has led big reduction in litter and flytipping in the immediate area.”