Bestwood Winding House on a Trent-Barton 141

A Bestwood outing on a 141

Trent Barton’s 141 calls at Bestwood Country Park every hour.

Even better it drops you off right by the Bestwood Village Park Road entrance to Bestwood Country Park and the old Bestwood Colliery Winding House.

Once beyond the sign and car park the Engine House comes into view…

…and to its left is the Dynamo House Tearoom — which was my first stopping point on a grey and damp January Saturday morning.
Inside the Dynamo House was full of folk looking at exhibits and displays, all on show for one day only, to support the launch of a new book, The Miners of Nottinghamshire: A History of the Nottinghamshire Miners’ Trade Unions Vol.4 1980–1985 by David Amos.
It was a great display and you can see it for yourself, as David is doing a reprise in Nottingham Central Library’s Local Studies Library (Angel Row, in the city centre) on Tuesday 25 March at the Angel Row History Forum, 10.30am–12pm.
I took this picture of David with his book. A similar photograph and a review of his book was published in  the Nottingham Post a few days ago.
There is an information panel outside the Winding Engine House, albeit a bit faded. This is part of the panel, which tells you that the engine is the only existing twin cylinder vertical steam engine on its original site and is now a scheduled ancient monument. Bestwood Colliery opened in 1872 and the engine was commissioned in 1873 and was used continuously until the Pit closed in 1967.
The Winding Engine House opens every Saturday, 10am–12pm, from Easter until October, but a couple of volunteers were kindly taking groups round. Inside was an impressive model showing what Bestwood Colliery once looked like and I took this photograph of one part of the model.
A lift takes you, first, to level one where a brakeman used to control up to sixty ascents and descents an hour. From his position he had a view of the stockhead. The man at the controls is avery realistic looking dummy.
Unfortunately, I was unable to get a photograph of the cylinder, but I did manage to take two photographs of piston rods and supporting iron and steel girders.
This photograph shows the vertical piston rods which went to cylinder at a lower level.
The lift then took us to the second level, virtually in the roof of the engine house, where our volunteer guide, Malcolm Carter, showed us the eighteen foot diameter wheel drum around which ‘the rope’ (actually a steel cable of many strands capable of supporting loads of up to 120 tonnes — six times its maximum permitted limited), which was tested every few months.
What I found interesting was the fact that the drum’s brakepads were made of oak and lasted ‘many years’. The drum was also had weights to ensure that it was correctly balanced, so that it always operated smoothly. New weights were fitted when the drum was refurbished as part of the preservation process, but are not considered as good as the original balancing weights, because the engine is now noisier than it was when actually carrying loads.
Our guide Malcolm worked at the Colliery from the age of fifteen and started in the engine house, which he helped to maintain. ‘Lives depended on us, so we took our work very seriously’.
The last thing Malcolm showed us was a section of ‘the rope’, looking more like a work of art than something on which lives depended. It was a fascinating thirty minutes and a great example of Nottinghamshire’s industrial heritage.
The 141 runs between Nottingham Victoria Bus Station and Sutton-in-Ashfield and also takes you to Newstead Abbey and Mansfield town centre and its excellent Museum & Art Gallery. Not the most direct route by any means, but a wonderful example of a working bus route serving lots of small communities, so come Easter why not spend an hour one Saturday morning at Bestwood Country Park, visiting the Winding House, then catch the next 141 to Newstead Abbey for lunch, then tea in Mansfield after a visit to town’s museum.  A great ‘History by Bus’ day out I promise you.
The website Sherwood Forest Visitor has this excellent map of Bestwood Country Park (see below), but like so many websites it has no information about bus services. Otherwise a great website well worth looking at.

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