Campaigners battling to save a piece of mining history are furious at a council decision to start demolition work due to ‘safety concerns.’
Miners and members of the National Union of Mineworkers have been fighting to save the pithead structure at Hatfield Colliery – one of the last three deep coal mines in the UK – which was closed in July a year ahead of schedule.
But Doncaster Council has confirmed demolition work will start next month to prevent ‘serious health and safety incidents.’
Dave Douglass, former miner and NUM branch secretary at Hatfield Main, said: “Headgear at pit sites all over the country have been retained so I don’t know why Doncaster Council are using the health and safety card. It’s an absolute nonsense.
“I’m very suspicious of this decision.
“It’s like they just want to wipe out every trace that the mining industry ever existed.
“We have been working to secure lottery funding to preserve the site and working with English Heritage but the council has completely pulled the rug out from under us.
“This is not just the last remaining headgear in Doncaster but in the whole of South Yorkshire and needs to be retained.”
Mr Douglas said a meeting was due to take place tonight to discuss their next move following the blow.
Doncaster Council bosses said they would work with residents to create some form of commemoration to ensure Hatfield Colliery is honoured and always remembered.
Doncaster Council said the costs of making the existing site safe and secure without demolition work are estimated to be £1 million, with significant ongoing maintenance and security costs every year.
A spokesman for the council said: “This is simply not affordable so the council has been left with no option, given the risks, but to have the headstocks demolished and the buildings made safe.”
Jo Miller, chief executive of Doncaster Council, said: “Mayor Ros Jones is clear that we must celebrate and recognise the town’s proud mining heritage.
“We will therefore work with local people to create some form of commemoration to ensure our heritage and Hatfield Colliery is honoured and never forgotten.”
The closure of the colliery in the summer marked the end of an era for the coal industry and resulted in the loss of 430 jobs.