Funds given to Middle Engine Pit to restore scheduled monument
PUBLISHED: 16:00 28 December 2018
Councillors in Nailsea want to open up a former coal mine up to the public to enable visitors to learn more about the town's heritage.
Middle Engine Pit – also known as Elms Colliery – is reputed to be the only complete example of an early 19th century coal mine complex in the country, but it is on English Heritage’s at risk register due to its poor state of repair.
More: Collapse fears at mine works.
The scheduled monument is owned by North Somerset Council which has allocated £5,000 to carry out works to stabilise the structures, Heritage England (HE) has committed £15,000 towards the scheme and it is hoped the final £10,000 needed will come from a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.
Once the work has been completed, the site will not come off the at risk register until an active management plan is in place to ensure it is maintained and used.
There is no long-term plan for the future use and management of the site and North Somerset Council is looking to transfer the ongoing responsibility for Middle Engine Pit to a third party.
In a report to Nailsea Town Council, clerk Jo Duffy said: “The town council is very keen to see Middle Engine Pit protected as the ambition must be for it to be a public open space and a heritage asset which residents and visitors can engage with.
“There has been a long history of false starts and North Somerset Council has failed over a long period to fulfil its ownership responsibilities for the site.
“The town council would support any constructive initiatives but would not engage in any plan which appeared to involve North Somerset Council simply trying to divest itself of a liability.”
A meeting between representatives from the town council, North Somerset and heritage organisations was held to discuss the future of the site.
All parties are also planning to visit Brandy Bottom Pit in South Gloucestershire to see how the site has been restored.
Each group will put forward their aspirations for Middle Engine Pit so an outline project plan can be drawn up.
Nailsea Town Council has agreed to put £10,000 towards its restoration on the condition a project is put in place to open it up to the public.