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Podmore Conservation

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A group of volunteers, the Podmore Conservation Group, has been doing routine maintenance work and undertaken special projects in the nature reserve for many years. Their aim is to "maintain the Nature Reserve as a place of special interest to the Community of Halmer End and surrounding areas" . The area is adjacent to Bateswood Country Park and managed by Newcastle Borough Council. Most work in the area however is undertaken by volunteers.

At the moment we have a group of 12 who have a wide range of skills. They undertake projects that they are comfortable with, meeting for a few hours on Sunday mornings. We hold committee meetings if we need to discuss and decide on a project. In 2015 the Group applied for and got a Big Lottery Heritage Grant to clean and re-seal the leaking pool and improve the paths and access. The work should be completed by the autumn of 2016.

In Victorian times the whole area of Bateswood was part of The Podmore Hall Colliery complex. The Podmore shaft was on the left, near the entrance to the reserve. It was connected by underground mine working to the Minnie Pit shaft some 900 yards to the West, beyond the Minnie lake. On 12th January 1918 this pit was the scene of the worst coal mining disaster in the North Staffordshire coalfield when a total of 156 men and boys lost their lives. The Centenary of this event will be commemorated with ceremony in January 2018.

Halmer End Primitive Methodist Chapel (now Halmer End Methodist Church) played a major role in the events that followed the disaster. The large school room at the rear was used as a temporary mortuary for many of the victims and some of the public enquiries were held within its walls. Today these walls carry evidence of this time with various memorial plaques and items of interest.

By preserving Podmore Pool and area we are preserving our proud coal mining heritage. This pool was the water reservoir for the steam powered winding engine that raised and lowered the cages in the shaft.

Anyone interested and who would like further details can contact the Group Secretary Ray Dale at ray.dale@mypostoffice.co.uk or phone (01782)720292.

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