Today, headstock wheels can be found mounted on plinths forming a kind of gateway into the former mining communities. These wheels remind newcomers, the grandsons and granddaughters of ex-miners, how these communities came about. Many villages throughout the county owe their existence to the colliery companies who built them in order to attract workers to the new mines. After closure, most pit yards and workshops were developed as industrial estates for business startup’s and light engineering use.
The pit tip at Bilsthorpe is now the location for wind turbines, providing alternative energy. Methane gas is also being extracted from old mine workings to produce electricity, including Clipstone – the site of the tallest headstocks in Europe. These derelict structures can be seen for many miles and were built in 1952 over the original steel headstocks (built in 1922). The unusual design employed the Koepe winding system which originated in Germany. Land-owners (Welbeck Estate) have applied for consent to demolish these Grade II-listed structures.
In Nottinghamshire there are three preserved headstocks that are open to the public:
- Bestwood Steam Winding Engine and Dynamo House (1861-1967). Once the most productive mine in the world – the first colliery to produce over one million tons of coal in a year.
- Brinsley tandem headstocks, (1872-1970). Located near Eastwood in a woodland setting in D. H. Lawrence country.
- Pleasley Colliery (1873-1983). Located on the Notts/Derbyshire border, one of the Stanton Ironworks collieries, lovingly restored to its former glory by former miners and local volunteers.
In June 2013, the Tin Hat Centre, Selston hosted talks by the mining heritage project team. The event was supported by Bilsthorpe Heritage Society who displayed photographs and objects from their collection. The promise of a mining-themed evening combined with a pie-and peas supper proved so irresistible that tickets for the event sold out in few days.
In September, a Steam Heritage Event held at Bestwood Winding-Engine House Museum captured the spirit of the traditional Miners Gala with music from Bestwood Colliery Black Diamonds Brass Band. The event provided an opportunity for sharing stories, displaying images and direct handling of mining memorabilia from the former East Midlands coalfields.
The team also contributed to the 2013 D.H. Lawrence Festival in Eastwood which included the debut of the Headstocks video featuring local historian, retired mining surveyor, Robert Bradley. Members of the public brought in family photographs and documents for identification and scanning, and in some instances, important historic material was donated to the University of Nottingham archives.
Community outreach and training activities in former coalfields continue through Mine2Minds a not-for-profit community interest organisation headed by co-producers; Dr David Amos and Paul Fillingham.