1 Sep 2008 - The Headstock Centre Annesley - Development Brief

Annesley Conservation Trust 

Authored by: 

Hemendra Headworth 

Lisa Brown


The Headstock Centre, Annesley - Development Brief

(Part 1: Background and Feasibility Study)



1. Who are Annesley Conservation Trust? (brief description of aims, membership and constitution)  


Annesley Conservation Trust is a newly formed community group working alongside the coal field communities of Ashfield, north Nottinghamshire (i.e. general public, community groups). Our main objectives are to: 



1.    promote and raise awareness of conservation and sustainability issues within Ashfield and in particular Annesley Village Conservation Area;     

2.    protect the mining heritage of Annesley (and Ashfield more widely) through fund-raising activities; 

3.    attract more members and local interest via publicity and campaigning.  

ACT uses community psychology to explore how historical colliery structures (within brownfill sites) could be restored and re-used to address the needs of deprived ex-coal field communities (e.g. employment, training and mental health needs).  Annesley Conservation Trust is a not for profit volunteer led group supported by its own finances. It is not in competition with other companies. The group was formed in January 2008 in direct response to proposals by developers to demolish the Headstock. Members of the group have a constitution and are working towards gaining charitable status with the Charities Commission (see our constitution attached). Their long-term goal is to forge new links and partnership working between the community and local councils which will enable Annesley Headstock to be retained for the future as a valuable community facility. 

ACT membership includes people with professional backgrounds in environmental education, counselling and community psychology.  Some of the members have connections with the colliery heritage of the site and are keen to develop their skills in this and other areas. The members of ACT have already given considerable time and effort to the development of the community group and vision and concepts for the site and are keen to continue this input. It is hoped that, with the aid of external funding and partners to guide the development of the project, those members with professional backgrounds in environmental education and so on will be able to focus on providing this specialist input to the benefit of the project. The group members would like to share their skills with volunteers and help develop their creativity and talent during the project development and longer term. If required they will facilitate training workshops in research skills, for example, alongside independent consultants. At the same time, they also want to learn from volunteers' unique experience and skills.

2. Description of the project (what we propose to do with the building and how we would use it)




For this project, Annesley Conservation Trust is investigating possible sources of funding for the restoration and reuse of Annesley Headstock* (and its heapstead base) and how this might benefit the community. The Headstock is part of former Annesley Colliery.The actual pit is believed to be the oldest in Nottinghamshire and is an important part of the region’s coalfield heritage.  



First opened in 1865, Annesley Colliery was in use for over 130 years. During the time of its use, various phases of development occurred (namely in the 1860/70’s, 1920/30’s and the late 1970/80’s) leading to varying styles of building on the site. It was the oldest running colliery in Nottinghamshire at the time of its closure in 2000 and the last remaining pit in the Hucknall and Bulwell area. The pit head baths date from the 1930’s and have an interesting art deco style from the period.  Annesley Villagewith its rows of terraced housing was constructed between 1869 and 1873 and comprises a total of 160 ‘’cottages.” The Conservation Area includes Moseley Farm (extended in the 20th Century) which dates back to the 17th Century and is constructed of stone with a pitch clay pantiled roof. 



The Colliery together with the associated village was declared a Conservation Area in 1999 in acknowledgement that they represented a near intact mining community. Soon after, Annesley Colliery’s closure in January 2000 caused mass unemployment, loss of amenities and low morale in the area. This led to physical and psychological issues and a drop in the local economy (Coalfield Industry Social Welfare Organisation, CISWO, personal communication, July 2008). In 2004 many of the colliery buildings were illegally demolished.  Only the electrical house, art deco pit head baths and the headstock remain.  These buildings are under immediate threat of demolition.  


Annesley pit site has now been cleared and has planning permission for a mixed used development including housing and retail outlets (e.g. pharmacy). The Headstock will lie within an area of green space. The developer, Persimmon Homes, North Midlands has offered to transfer the lease and re-development of Annesley Headstock over to a community group for £1 (if certain funding criteria is met).  Since the pit closures, the majority of collieries have been demolished without trace throughout the United Kingdom.  However, there has been a growing realisation of the importance of retaining colliery structures because of their historical importance (Cole, 2004). This project is being submitted now because the opportunity to re-develop the building will be lost if action is not taken.    



The project  


The redundant Headstock forms an important and impressive monument to the local coalfield heritage and has the potential for sustainable use. ACT has proposals for new services (in partnership with others) that are all aimed at improving community ownership and use of the building.  These facilities involve: 



1.    a coalfield heritage centre (developed in conjunction with Kirkby and District Conservation Society - who have a wide existing membership);


2.   a ranger led environmental education resource (developed in conjunction with Nottinghamshire County Council and the Wildlife Trust) to capitalize on the adjacent well used 'lagoon restoration' area and  green space;


3.   a volunteer led counseling/psychotherapy service to help improve access to talking treatments in Annesley and other deprived local areas (which would take mental health referrals from nearby GPs);


4.   a community cafe serving refreshments and meals using locally grown produce.  This would either be run by volunteers or leased out to external catering providers.  The ground rent would help meet the costs of maintaining the Headstock and heapstead.  


Annesley Headstock is an intact coal mining structure of which there are few in the United Kingdom.  As such the restoration and conversion will fully respect this historic character and legacy and ensure its continuing relationship with the local coal field community.  The Headstock itself will remain, but the heapstead (the brickwork building at the base of the Headstock) will be re-used to house the heritage, environmental and other community facilities.  Sustainability is high on the agenda and the building has the potential to use sustainable energy services including ground source heat pump, solar/photo-voltic cells and wood chip burner.  These facilities will raise standards in the community and help to regenerate Annesley Village.  


The target beneficiaries of the project involve all those living in Annesley Village and other relatively deprived coalfield communities in Ashfield. The project would follow equal opportunity guidelines and would be accessible to all groups. Annesley Conservation Trust will use regular audit review and monitoring to ensure that people benefit from this project. ACT, as a community group, has tried to involve local residents in project development through a number of strategies such as group meetings, a marketing leaflet circulated to households and community website where people can leave comments and views (available at www.actnow.btik.com). The project will be managed by a management committee of members of the local community and partnership organisations.


3. Why is the project needed? (brief description of local needs and how the project can help to address these)   



There are a number of sources that appear to demonstrate the need for this project.  First, in May 2008, ACT conducted a small pilot questionnaire study of Annesley Village residents' views concerning conservation and service development on the former pit site. The response rate was 55%. The majority of respondents (79%) were in favour of retaining Annesley Headstock for the community and restoring it. There were a number of suggestions for is reuse (and relevant services) including café/bar, general store, well being/drop in centre, heritage centre and environmental education resource.

Second, in a relatively short time, ACT collected the signatures of nearly 70 people who want to retain the Headstock as part of Ashfield’s coalfield heritage. Third, Annesley and Felley Parish Council concluded in the Parish Plan (2006 – 2012) that a 'high status' priority was, "to carefully monitor and fight if necessary, to keep the Headstocks and other buildings of historical interest.” Fourth, Ashfield District Council's Cultural Strategy for 2007 - 2012 supports the retention of the "physical structures and traditions of coal mining for the community” and “the promotion of heritage to a wider market.” For example, it is stated under ‘Tourism and Heritage’ (p. 4):  


“..the ADC heritage and tourism service aim is to…heighten the appeal of Ashfield as a destination for tourism with credible visitor attractions. An additional aim is to establish ways to preserve and interpret heritage and develop the infrastructure within Ashfield and consequently there is a desire to maintain the physical structures and traditions of coal mining and textiles for the area by encouraging community and school projects and promotion of heritage to a wider market ' (my italics).  


Later under ‘Key Challenges and Issues for Cultural Provision’ (p.7), further aims mentioned are: 


Ensuring complementary work with community groups to attract heritage funding. Ashfield currently has a relatively small number of listed buildings and conservation areas. Work to help preserve and interpret these to develop a sense of place and civic pride' (my italics)”.  


In short, Annesley Headstock represents “the physical structures and traditions of coal mining” that sits within one of the “small number of..conservation areas” that Ashfield District Council wants to “work to help preserve and interpret” (the full Cultural Strategy is available upon request).  Fifth, in the Local Plan Review for 2007, Ashfield District Council identifies the need to influence economic regeneration in former mining areas. 


We interpret the above as evidence that there is a need in the community (Annesley and wider Ashfield area) to retain Annesley Headstock and put it to a sustainable use. The demand for the project is suggested by key strategy documents of the Local Authority, along with a petition/letters of support, and our own consultation with the community. The project will address both the deprivation and lack of opportunity caused by the closure of Annesley colliery whilst ensuring that the Headstock is protected and the coal mining industry maintains its rightful place in Nottinghamshire’s history.



Feasibility study?  



Although, ACT’s small survey showed that the majority of respondents (79%) would like Annesley Headstock to be protected, the same respondents also felt, that, in the past, they had not been adequately consulted concerning development plans for the pit site. Anecdotal reports (from the many local people ACT members have spoken to), and the pilot survey suggest the need for a wider consultation about the retention and reuse of Annesley Headstock and also the development of services on the pit site.  Also before ACT members can help coordinate the development of the project, they need to ascertain the extent of works required to make the Headstock (and its base, the heapstead) safe and accessible to the public.  The community consultation along with building surveys suggests that a feasibility study of the Headstock’s restoration needs to take place.  The findings of this research would form the basis for realistic bids to secure large grants for the development of the project.  


How much would the feasibility study cost and who would conduct and fund it?

Annesley Conservation Trust would like to involve the local community - volunteers and stakeholders - in an extensive up-to-date consultation to establish views concerning; 1.) the plans for Annesley Headstock and its future and; 2.) what type of services should be based at the former colliery site. This will be carried out by think tanc ltd and volunteers through a door-to-door consultation, postal questionnaire survey, focus group and planning for real exercise.  The use of different research methods will ensure inclusiveness and that views of hard to reach groups can be accessed. The community consultation will be funded by Awards For All (note think tank ltd charge £42.00 per hour) and the break down of research activities and costs are below;



Project preparation (think tanc ltd)  = £126.00



Advertising/expenses for volunteers = £350.00



Postal survey (think tanc ltd) = £945.00



Door to door survey (think tanc ltd) = £1890.00



Analysis of door to door survey (think tank ltd) = £945.00 (£42 per hour)



Planning for real exercise (think tanc) = £1260.00



Writing and presenting draft/final report = £1281.00



think tanc ltd VAT at 17.5% = £1128.00



Postage/printing/photocopying costs = £500



ACT sessional fees = £1200.00 (£10 per hour)



Total costs = £9625 including VAT



The building surveys would be funded by the Grassroots Grant Programme (Nottinghamshire Community Foundation). A structural engineering survey of Annesley Headstock and the heapstead will be conducted by Ward Cole Ltd, Consulting Engineers.  The cost of a visual inspection and written report with recommendations is £2000 excluding V.A.T.  A condition survey would be carried out by Redmak Architecture Urban Design at a cost of £1550.00 excluding VAT.  The total cost for building surveys would be £4171.25 including VAT.  The total cost of the feasibility study would be £13,796. 



Note that an extended project delivery brief is to follow.





* Note, that a Headstock is the structure used to transport miners up and down a mining shaft for the purpose of extracting coal. Such a building has enormous iconic value and meaning to mining communities throughout the East Midlands and country more generally.