By Rob Gooding, Community Organiser
Over the last year the Silverwood group have continued to grow and thrive, the group have an active Facebook page with 568 people to date. They regularly engaging with the page, with posts about memories from life down the pit to ways the area could be improved. A key aim of the group is to bring back the old pit community spirit in the area.
There had been plans at the end of last year to hold a Pop-up Museum. However, this is unfortunately is still on hold due to the COVID-19 restrictions. This however has not stopped the group from looking into how they would like the Pop-up Museum to work, look like and what they would like to display. They are still actively getting exhibits together donated by the group and sharing pictures and stories about them on the group Facebook page. The group are also currently looking into holding online events to showcase these in virtual history talks.
The group have been in talks with The Ogden Companies who own the site, and also spoken to local Cllr Emma Hoddinott and the Silverwood Nature reserve group to try and get a Memorial Garden built on the old pit head site on Hollings lane. This is a message Neil sent to the group about the partnership work.
‘I will try and keep this short and to the point. As you know I approached Bob Boyle and we had a meeting to discuss the idea of our group and his group working together and helping one another. Bob’s group have applied a great deal of pressure on the Ogden’s and have also got the council, parish councils and south Yorkshire police to do the same with regards to the off road vehicles and damage to the pit site, which is why I believe the attitude of the Ogden’s has now changed. Emma Hoddinott officially informed the Ogden’s of our idea for the Silverwood Colliery memorial garden. I met with Emma last week to discover the Ogden’s are very supportive and enthusiastic about the idea for the memorial garden and have said they don’t have any objections. The Ogden’s are to hold a board meeting to discuss the idea and will send us confirmation approval and will want us to send to them a proposal and a plan of exactly what we want the memorial garden to include, look like ect and how we plan to do it. We need to start working on this proposal and plan asap as it will be far more beneficial to us to have it ready and waiting to send back to them straight away. The Ogden’s have also agreed to Bob’s proposal for making the site more secure. Hope that makes sense and for us this is good news I can only apologise that arranging meetings for all of us at the moment is so extremely difficult and very frustrating that we can’t all be at them I really am only thinking of keeping things going for us so when this nightmare is over we actually have something to work on and in place.’
Following these meetings, the group have been advised that they can approach the company with a formal project proposal detailing the plans for the site and how this will look. The group are currently recruiting members with experience in horticulture and buildings to design the garden while other members are working out the cost of the project and ways to raise the funding moving forward.
The group are working with other groups around Rotherham and Barnsley that have done similar projects around their areas as well as research other Memorial Gardens nationwide to gain ideas for the memorial garden and find out what has worked well for other groups.
The group have started working with another group called Artful as a way to engage with local children and get them to help with ideas for the garden as a way to give them a sense of ownership of the garden and bring the local history to them.
One of the ideas the group already have is to sell bricks with miner’s names and badge numbers on to interested parties and use those bricks to build the garden. This project will be built around the existing memorial wheel and the group plan to start a community group to do all the maintenance work between them when the garden has been built.