Winding house misses out on heritage award

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THE BESTWOOD winding engine house (pictured), which has been transformed from a dilapidated colliery-building into a tourist attraction, had its wings clipped in the final of the prestigious Angel Awards, run by the English Heritage organisation.

The steam-powered engine and its building were part of the former Bestwood Colliery in Bestwood Village but fell into disrepair after the pit closed.

With the unstinting support of volunteers and financial support from Notts County Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund, the attraction has undergone a £2.4 million transformation.

The project caught the eye of judges in the Angel Awards, headed by Andrew Lloyd-Webber, and was picked as one of four finalists in the ‘Best Rescue Of An Industrial Building Or Site’ category.

Sadly, at a glitzy ceremony at the Palace Theatre in London’s West End, the Bestwood Village attraction lost out to a restoration project at Pleasley Colliery in north Nottinghamshire.

Bob Gow, of Hucknall, who is a former Bestwood Colliery worker and ex-Independent member of Ashfield District Council, is one of the leading volunteers at the winding engine house.

After attending the awards ceremony, he said: “I’m pretty disappointed. I felt we had made an equal effort with all the other finalists but we were further on in the project.

“However we have made massive improvements at the site and I would like to say thankyou to the support we have received from the county council.”

Bestwood Colliery started operations in 1876 and closed in 1971. At one stage in its history, it was said to be the most procudtive pit in the world.

But after it closed, its iconic buildings quicmkly deteriorated. Had it not been for the efforts of the group of volunteers, the winding engine house would not have survived.

It was finally transformed in 2009/10 into a visitor and education centre.

Earlier this year, the venue was officially endorsed by the national tourism body, Visit England.