A few weeks ago one of my Labour colleagues at County Hall, Eileen Rowbotham – Member for Dover North – asked me whether I’d go down to visit her local area. She particularly wanted me to see the former Snowdown Colliery site and meet some of the local people involved in a scheme to rejuvenate the site and preserve the mining heritage of the area.
I finally managed to set aside a slot in my diary this week, and set off with hard hat and boots. We met at the Aylesham and District Community Workshop Trust, itself a vibrant hub of community activity, and after a coffee and a bacon sandwich on Eileen, I met a group of her colleagues who briefed me on the history of KC2 – “Kent, Coal and Community” and their efforts to restore the old Snowdown buildings to their former glory.
Then we drove a few yards down the road to the Snowdown site where we met Coal Board representatives and began to walk the site. Although the pithead equipment is long gone and the shafts themselves have been capped off for twenty years or more, the buildings remain and give a good idea of what the site must have been like in production.
KC2 have ambitious ideas for each and every structure, including an eco-garden, tourist centre, restaurant, cafe and concert hall. In addition they would like to create a centre of excellence for energy conservation. There’s still a colliery male voice choir and band, and a rich tradition locally of performing arts, all of whom could make the site their home.
The KC2 group are now refining some costings and preparing a prospectus which should be ready in Spring of 2009. I’ll be interested to see it.