September Open Days

Our last Open Days of 2019 took place at St Aidans, Swillington, on Saturday and Sunday, the 14th and 15th of September. We welcomed around 200 visitors who enjoyed tours of the Dragline and displays in the Substation. We also offered musical entertainment from a Vintage Organ on both days and a demonstration by the Cyclops Pedal Power team on the Saturday only. This followed the People Power theme of this year’s Heritage Open Days.

June Open Day

Our latest Open Day took place on Saturday 15th June.

We had fine weather for the whole day and welcomed around 450 visitors, including the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Eileen Taylor. The Lord Mayor thoroughly enjoyed her visit, exploring the inside and outside of the Machine, guided by Members of the Friends of the Dragline. This was followed by a visit to the Substation to see working models of Draglines demonstrating how they worked to win much needed coal supplies. DVDs were also running during the day showing Draglines at work in many different locations.

All these activities were enjoyed by all of our visitors, and Members of the Friends who were Stewarding on the day were kept busy guiding people and answering many questions.

The Lord Mayor of Leeds to visit St Aidan’s

We are pleased to welcome the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Eileen Taylor, to our next Dragline Open Day, on Saturday, 15th June.

Leeds has a special connection with Open Cast Mining, being the birthplace of Albert Braithwaite, M.P., who was a keen advocate of Open Cast Mining during and after the Second World War.

His father, also bearing the name Albert, had been the Lord Mayor of Leeds in 1921.

April Open Day

The weather was fine for the first Open Day of 2019, which was held on the 13th April.

Around 350 visitors arrived to tour the Dragline. Working models were on display to demonstrate how the Dragline operated and DVDs which also showed this were running during the day. Copies of these were available to purchase.

Many people, especially groups, posed for photos in the Giant Bucket.

One of our Members, who is also involved with the Simca Club of Great Britain, brought his Simca Racing Car to display near the Dragline. Anyone wishing to learn more about the Simca Club, please contact scukmick@aol.com to receive details of their activities.

AGM 2019

Our 2019 AGM took place in the Substation on Sunday 31st. March.

The AGM was attended by ten Members who approved the Minutes of the 2018 AGM. Apologies for absence had been received from five Members.

The Chairman gave his Report, in which he thanked Members for their support, including at the Open Days and also with site tidying in preparation for these.

The Secretary and Treasurer made their Reports, commenting on an increase in Membership, Open Day visitor numbers remaining high and Donations to the Dragline still being very generous. It is good to see that our Dragline is so well appreciated by the visiting public, from near and far.

Next came Election of Officers. Both the Chairman and the Treasurer wished to retire after many years of dedicated service. Members thanked them for all their hard work, and then elected new holders for these posts.

Members then discussed arrangements for the 2019 Open Days.

The retiring Treasurer had brought with him a collection of photographs left to the Friends by the late Dr Ivor Brown, who had worked tirelessly to bring about the preservation of the Dragline. It was decided that these items would be placed in the care of our Chairman, to be made available for Mining Research.

The Chairman thanked everyone for attending and then closed the AGM.

Dragline Open Days 2019

Come and see Oddball, the largest preserved walking dragline excavator in Western Europe.

Look all round outside and see the giant 25 cubic yard bucket.

Go inside the machine and see all the motors and winding gear.

Sit in the driver’s seat!

Take in the view from the jib!

See working models and video displays in the substation.

Our dates for 2019 are:

  • Saturday 13th April.
    • Saturday 15th June.
    • Saturday 14th September.
    • Sunday 15th September.
    • We are open from 1pm to 4pm on each of these days. Admission is free and there is free parking on site.  If you are arriving by bicycle, there is parking available,  so please remember to bring your locks. Dogs on leads are welcome within our Compound, but cannot go on the Dragline. Please help to keep our area tidy by cleaning up after your pet, if necessary. Doggy bags are available free at the Substation. For directions to our site,  and a map of the area, please see our “Find Us” page.

Friends of the Dragline AGM 2019

Our next AGM will take place in the Substation at St Aidans at 2pm on Sunday, 31st March, 2019.

The Agenda is.

1. Apologies for Absence

2. Approval of Minutes of 2018 AGM

3. Chairman’s Report

4. Secretary’s Report

5. Treasurer’s Report

6. Election of Officers

7. Review of Arrangements for 2019 Open Days

8.  Additional Signatories for Nat West Bank Accounts

9. Any Other Business

Ivor Brown Memorial Day

The Ivor Brown Memorial Day was held at Coalbrookedale Museum on the 27th of October, 2018. This was to celebrate the life and work of the late Dr Ivor John Brown. The event was attended by around eighty people, including some Members of The Friends of the Dragline. Ivor had been instrumental in the saving of our Dragline for Preservation, in order that future generations would learn about the history of Opencast Mining, and be able to visit what had become the last large Walking Dragline  Excavator remaining in Britain. Ten speakers gave a variety of talks covering different aspects of Ivor’s work. Their topics ranged from “God and the Miners” to “Celestine Mining in South Gloucestershire”.

Our Member, Sam Wood, gave a talk entitled “St Aidan’s Opencast and Preservation of the Dragline” in which Ivor’s efforts to save the Dragline were described in great detail. During the lunch break, A video of our Dragline’s last walk, was played on a loop for for the visitors to watch. This had been provided by IA Recordings.

September Open Days, 2018

Our final Open Days of the year took place on Saturday & Sunday, the 15th & 16th of September, and concluded a good year of events for the Friends of the Dragline. In addition to our Open Days, we were featured on the Springwatch televison programme and also an illustrated article about the Dragline, written by our Secretary was included in the Journal of AEMT of York.

We welcomed  483 visitors over the two Open Days. A good many of these were comparatively local, including a return visit by Drivers from the Knottingley depot of the Prestons of Potto haulage business. A party of enthusiasts arrived from Leicestershire and some visitors from China included us in their tour of Britain.

Our dedicated Stewards were on hand to guide our visitors and answer their questions. In addition to tours of the Dragline, there were videos of Draglines at work, from a time when there were many of these Machines active throughout the country. One of our Members displayed working models of Draglines to give our visitors a greater understanding of how the Draglines worked.

Another attraction was a Tombola, with prizes donated by Traders at the Hillhead Quarry Exhibition held in June on the outskirts of Buxton, Derbyshire. Our thanks go to them for their generosity in supporting us.

The weather was excellent on both of the days, which allowed our visitors to get maximum enjoyment of their time with us.

Many people also made a visit to the nearby RSPB St Aidans Bird Reserve and enjoyed refreshments at their Visitor Centre.