This is a photograph that I missed from my post a while back on Chatterley Whitfield Colliery. The image here shows just how much infrastructure is left at the colliery, and the monumental job of upkeep that, well, hasn’t been taking place. When something like this is busy producing coal and making money, then there is a well-funded maintenance budget to keep things in good condition. As soon as that goes, then the place is either pulled down (which is the norm for collieries), or is turned into a museum, under the care of a trust or local council. Neither of these types of body will ever be flush with cash.
The collieries that have survived demolition in Britain have all done so by not having much there, and I don’t mean that in a demeaning way, I mean that inasmuch as they have enough left for them to reasonably maintain, but even then, that can be a struggle. Although Chatterley Whitfield is in the unique position of being a large colliery with virtually everything left on site that was there when it shut, it appears to be simply too much to reasonably maintain. What will become of it remains to be seen but English Heritage list its condition as critical, and I’ve heard from a former NCB surveyor (now employed by a firm of consulting engineers) who was surveying the site that he was refused access to areas of Chatterley Whitfield as they were in such an unsafe condition.
I’m really not sure what the future holds, as there seems to be no news available anywhere on the web. There was another Heritage Open Day held in 2012, so they are at least letting people on site again for guided tours between the miles of Herras fencing, so another visit may be in order. Also worth keeping an eye on the Chatterley Whitfield blog site as their main website hasn’t been updated in years, as far as I can see.
As photographs go it’s fairly untypical for me as it’s a straight record shot, and yet I like it not only for what it represents, but for what it is – a sodding great lump of civil and mechanical engineering, built with no aesthetic pretensions, pure function over form.