Pit's winding engine to re

EX-MINERS have restored an 18ft colliery winding wheel which was out of action for a year.

Bestwood Winding Engine will reopen today SAT as a memorial to the village's mining legacy, after a fault in the electric engine left it out of action.

Using their industry knowledge, Brian Gow, Malcolm Carter, Mick Sendall and his son Jonathan tracked down and fitted the parts needed to bring the wheel, at Bestwood Country Park, back to life.

Mr Gow was an apprentice at Bestwood Colliery in 1962 before a career spanning pits across the county. including Thoresby - the last deep coal mine in Notts which is set to close.

He said: "The winding engine is a real focal point of the community and the country park. It stands proud at the top of the village. It's been unfortunate that it hasn't been working fully over the last year and it's been a great community effort to get it up and running again."

The electric engine was installed with help from the Greater Nottinghamshire Partnership after a £1.1 million Heritage Lottery grant in 2006.

But last year volunteers noticed a steel driving rope, which drives the main winding wheel, was wearing and needed to be repaired.

They tracked down surge pads - a part used to turn the winding engine since it was electrified in 1998 - from a scrap yard in Yorkshire.

The four volunteers have put in around 350 hours of work into the project, turning up whatever the weather.

"If is was raining we'd just have to get wet," said Mr Gow. "And we've had lots of assistance from local engineering companies as well."

Heatherose Ltd in Newark and Gee Engineering in Basford both helped with their knowledge and expertise while Bestwood Women's Institute offered tea, coffee and support. The WI runs a coffee shop on Saturdays at Dynamo House at the park.

Chairman Kay Brown said: "It's part of a patchwork of things on offer in the park - all of which work better together.

She said: "It's a place where people can come and learn a bit about the history of the park, which goes back as far as Richard III through the pit years to modern times."

Kay stressed the importance of the colliery to the history and identity of the village.

"Bestwood was particularly well known in the industry and was more than just a colliery but a headquarters for a lot of things going on in Nottinghamshire," she added.

Mr Gow said: "Mining was such an important part of the village since it was built in the 1870s right through to its closure in 1969.

"The Industrial Revolution made Great Britain the biggest empire the world has ever seen and that was fuelled by the coal workers mining at pits here in the UK."

The winding engine, in a tall brick building, is the last operational relic of the pit at Bestwood used to lower miners and carry coal to the surface.

Councillor John Knight, committee chairman for culture at Notts County Council, said: "This summer season will be exciting for Bestwood and it will be a great moment when the electricity can power the winding engine wheel again later in the season.''

"There are some fascinating stories to tell related to mining and conservation at Bestwood, and a packed programme of activities to help bring these stories to life."

The winding engine opens for tours from 10am until noon on Saturdays and Dynamo House café operates the same hours. For more information, visit fbcp.org.uk.

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