THE National Coal Mining Museum near Grange Moor is one of the region’s most popular tourist attractions – and a living history lesson for young visitors from Kirklees schools.
The museum, based at Caphouse Colliery on the edge of the Yorkshire coalfield, opened in 1988 as the Yorkshire Mining Museum and was granted its national status in 1995.
In 2001, the museum received a heritage lottery grant of just over £4.5m and raised almost £2m itself to complement the grant – allowing work to be carried out on restoring old colliery buildings, building new gallery areas and creating a store for large machinery.
More recently, the museum was awarded a further grant of just under £1m from the heritage lottery fund, which together with other funding has enabled the conservation and interpretation of the buildings at nearby Hope Pit. The Hope Pit scheme was opened in 2005 by television presenter Johnny Ball.
The museum was established with funding from the old West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire county councils as well as Kirklees and Wakefield councils and technical support and assistance from British Coal.
It provided a bright future for Caphouse, which can date its history from the late 1700s. A plan dated 1791 and showing workings from 1789 to 1795 includes a shaft on the Caphouse site. It is probably the oldest coal-mine shaft still in everyday use in Britain today.
Before 1827, the colliery was owned by the Milnes family but then passed into the ownership of the Lister Kaye family, until 1917. After that, it was run by several owners until the coal industry was nationalised in 1947. By 1985 the coal at Caphouse was exhausted and its conversion to a Museum began.