Volunteers at one of the most complete former colliery sites in Europe are celebrating after securing funding from the Covid-19 Emergency Heritage at Risk Response Fund.

The historic Chatterley Whitfield Colliery will benefit from a £22,500 boost after Stoke-on-Trent City Council was successful with a bid to the Historic England fund, which is giving out £3 million nationally.

The fund, launched in direct response to the pandemic, awards grants to help cover urgent maintenance and repairs at some of the country’s locally-cherished historic building and sites. Grants of up to £25,000 were made available to fix urgent problems such as damaged roofs, masonry and windows, to hire scaffolding to prevent structural collapse, or commission surveys necessary to inform urgent repairs.

Chatterley Whitfield Colliery is the most comprehensive surviving example of a deep mine site in England, with a range of surviving structures and buildings unequalled in any other former or surviving coalfield site in Britain. The city council worked closely with the Friends of Chatterley Whitfield to put the bid together.

The money will see the following work carried out: Stabilise concrete spalling and carry out repairs to the former pithead baths entrance, which will allow access to the canteen meaning visitor tours can safely resume with more space available for social distancing, Create a one-way system into the archiving centre so it can still be accessed safely under coronavirus guidelines.

Last year the site was opened up to above ground tours as part of Heritage Open Days, with all 600 available tickets snapped up in a matter of hours. The city council owns the former mine that closed down in 1977. A host of buildings on the site have Listed Building status.

Councillor Daniel Jellyman, cabinet member for infrastructure, regeneration and heritage, said: “I’m delighted we’ve been able to work closely with the friends group to put forward a successful application which has now received financial backing at a national level. We’re all working hard to raise the profile of the site, to secure its future not just for North Staffordshire but the entire country. It’s a site with big challenges but also big potential, however, the project is too big for the council to do on its own. We had a positive site visit with Historic England and the minister for arts, heritage and tourism at the start of the year and the local MP is now pushing the case for the site in Parliament. This funding is certainly a step in the right direction as we continue to work on a long-term solution for Chatterley Whitfield.”

Nigel Bowers, chairman of the friends group, said: “The £22,500 grant is fantastic news and a credit to the team from the city council and the Friends of Chatterley Whitfield who made it possible. It will hopefully be a catalyst for the remainder of the site.”

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