Mining icon gets tourism seal of approval

CELEBRATION -- volunteers (from left) Bob Gow, Malcolm Carter and Ida Curtis receive the Visit England Accreditation from (right) Notts County Council chairman, Coun Keith Walker (Con) -- DISPIC NHUD11-2425-1
CELEBRATION -- volunteers (from left) Bob Gow, Malcolm Carter and Ida Curtis receive the Visit England Accreditation from (right) Notts County Council chairman, Coun Keith Walker (Con) -- DISPIC NHUD11-2425-1

THE BESTWOOD winding engine house — an iconic symbol of the Dispatch district’s mining heritage — has been nationally recognised in its new life as a tourist attraction.

The steam-powered engine and its building were part of the former Bestwood Colliery in Bestwood Village and once helped the pit to a lofty position as the most productive mine in the world.

But with the demise of the colliery in the late 1960s, the historic landmark fell into a state of disrepair.

For almost two decades, the only reason it survived was the dedication of a group of volunteers, led by former Bestwood miner and ex-Ashfield District councillor Bob Gow, of Hucknall.

It was finally transformed in 2009/2010 into a visitor and education centre as part of a £2.4 million project, backed by Notts County Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Now it has been officially endorsed by the national tourism body, Visit England, with accreditation under the Places of Interest Quality Assurance Scheme (PIQAS).

The accolade is given to small attractions meeting high standards of customer care and providing an excellent visitor-experience.

An undercover ‘mystery shopper’ visited the winding engine house, which stands within the grounds of Bestwood Country Park, earlier this year to check out its qualities.

Coun John Cottee (Con), lead member for culture and community at the county council, said: “The Bestwood winding engine house provides a fascinating insight into Nottinghamshire’s mining heritage and is fully deserving of this accolade.

“The award is testament to the hard work, dedication and knowledge of the volunteers at the engine house who make visitors’ experiences so interesting.”

To complete a special week for the winding engine house volunteers, their group has also been shortlisted in the prestigious English Heritage Angel Awards.

Sixteen finalists have been chosen from 200 entries, with the Bestwood group one of the forerunners in the ‘Best Rescue Of An Industrial Building Or Site’ category.

The head of the awards is Andrew Lloyd-Webber, and the winners will be announced at a star-studded ceremony at the Palace Theatre in London on Monday October 31.