Former pit could become ‘Eden Centre of the East Midlands’

Plans for a leisure hub at the former Clipstone Colliery site.
Plans for a leisure hub at the former Clipstone Colliery site.

Plans to transform a derelict colliery site into the Eden Centre of the East Midlands have moved a step forward.

A plan to use Clipstone headstocks as the site of an ambitious multi-million tourist attraction will be submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund in around a months time.

This week the Coal Authority has started work to remove trees and rubble from the base of the headstocks.

Protected by Grade II heritage status, the iconic winding towers’ fate has been debated since the pit closed in 2003.

Clipstone Colliery Regeneration Group (CCRG) has put together a proposal which would see the towers remaining as part of a sport and leisure hub for thrill-seekers, boasting a mile-long, 100-mph zip wire, tethered parachute jumps and indoor skydiving,

Denise Baraclough from the group said: “This has the potential to be a major part of a big tourist offering in the East Midlands, it has been compared to an Eden Project for the East Midlands.

“With an enterprise zone for businesses and an area for affordable housing, it benefits the area in several ways.”

A spokesman from the group added; “Thanks to intense lobbying by CCRG and English Heritage (now Historic England) the Coal Authority started work to remove trees and rubble from the base of the headstocks on March 6.”

After meetings with Heritage Lottery Fund officials, the group is submitting an initial bid for money to support surveys, business plans and feasibility studies.

It is hoped an application for full funding could be finalised later this year.

A spokesman for Historic England added: Clipstone Colliery headstocks are a rare survival of the nation’s coal mining heritage and we believe they deserve to be safeguarded. We understand the Clipstone Colliery Regeneration Group has met with the HLF and are putting in a bid for a Resilience Grant to develop their project. If successful then they will be able to fund the necessary surveys to test their initial ideas and to get a better understanding of the structures’ current condition.”

A preservation proposal for Clipstone Colliery’s iconic headstocks has received the backing of one of the UK’s leading experts on conservation of engineering and industrial structures.

Bristol-based GW Conservation produced a preliminary report on the state of the 65-metre tall structures. It found that the Grade II-listed headstocks and power house between them appear to be generally remain in good structural condition.

Geoffrey Wallis, who conducted the report, has more than 30 years of experience restoring machinery, buildings and structures and metalwork of historical significance.

He said he was impressed by the site, which has remained derelict since the pit closed in 2003 and since been stripped of many metals by vandals.

He said: “The machinery in the winding and power houses is impressive , interesting and historically important.

“It is evidence of post-war engineering and technology which demonstrates the vast range of skills and crafts that once thrived in the area.

“Although some parts have been removed, - whilst local ‘entrepreneurs’ have liberated an estimated 50 tonnes of copper and brass - the main machines remain in a condition that provides clear evidence of their construction and function.”

Mr Wallis added: “The winding and power halls with their reassembled machinery would be awe-inspiring, provide a unique educational resource and form an amazing backdrop for [these] other activities.”