This project has helped ensure that the unique Freemining tradition in the Forest will continue in future generations. There was a need to involve new people, raising awareness and interest in the opportunity to become a Freeminer and to ensure that appropriate training could be provided.
The traditional route for training to become a Freeminer by working for a 'year and a day' underground under an experienced Freeminer remains, but the Freeminers are exploring how they can capitalise on the knowledge of experienced miners to create a customised training programme for the Forest.
There was also a need to make the working life as a Freeminer more financially viable, by installing a briquette making machine to make low value small coal particles into a higher value product. The briquette machine is housed at Hopewell colliery in a newly built facility, where small coal particles will be brought in from other mines, and the briquettes produced on site to individually created 'recipes' for each mine. The briquettes will then be marketed as a locally sourced and produced product.
New specialist mine rescue equipment was also purchased to be used by the volunteer operated Gloucestershire Cave Rescue Mine Dig-Out Team. This helps ensure that a fast response rescue team can be called into action immediately to give the greatest chance for the most successful outcome of a mine rescue.
In our celebratory film, Freeminer Rich Daniels tells their story:
You could be a mining trainee, learning where and how to extract coal. If your family used to be miners you may be able to help tell their stories and add to the history of forest mining.
A fascinating Freeminers Podcast was produced August 2020 by our project partner Wyldwood Arts as part of the 'Forest Folk' podcast series, see:
Find out more about Freemining at www.forestfreeminers.org.