Years of work to transform a former railway cutting into a community nature reserve has resulted a major step forward as engineers move in to construct a new pathway to allow access down the steep embankment.
The development marks a major success in the scheme to develop a site which had become a target for fly-tippers alongside Barnsley Road in the village, which blossomed from a project three years ago to repaint three neglected railway bridges.
That was organised as a youth project, involving South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and the Prince’s Trust and proved so successful it acted as a trigger to the current project, which will see the creation of a community orchard as well as other fresh planting and pathways to provide the public with a new recreation area, overseen by a steering group.
It will also feature information boards to provide an educational element, allowing visitors to learn more about the area’s mining and railway heritage while they enjoy a space created from what those industries left behind.
A memorial will also be installed in recognition of two school-age brothers who died tragically during the miners’ strike of 1984 while they were out trying to excavate coal from the embankment and were killed when the land collapsed.
The railway embankment project has succeeded due to support from many organisations, including Barnsley Council’s Dearne Area Council, the Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership, Tesco, Network Rail and others, along with keen support from the community.
Sheffield University architecture students helped with work to plan the site, carefully choosing locally available materials where possible to minimise the expense of the transformation and also consulting the public on their plans.
Dearne Area Council manager Claire Dawson has been responsible for orchestrating much of the project and said: “The access route should be down in about three weeks and we want to create a picnic area.
“We have big dreams for this site. Within the steering group, we have some really good advisors.”
Coun May Noble added: “We are working with schools, we want them to be involved, along with voluntary groups.
“The new walk way now being put in will go down in stages, there will be rest areas which is important to make it accessible.”
The site already has fencing in place along Barnsley Road and as the project develops that will be decorated with birds and butterfly artwork, being designed by school children from the village, with planters also expected to be installed to improve the area’s roadside appeal.