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Saturday, 20 December 2014

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Danger path to shut for good

A DANGEROUS access footpath to an historic Whitehaven site looks set to be permanently closed to the public.

The path that leads to the remains of Saltom Pit – England’s first undersea coal mine at Kells – has been closed for the past year amid safety concerns over slippage on the unstable cliffs.

And Cumbria County Council is being recommended tomorrow (Friday) to make the closure permanent. Councillors will be told: “Originally it was hoped that there would be a diversion of the footpath. However, after further investigation it became apparent that this would not be possible until the half-million tonnes of spoil causing the subsidence and instability have reached the sea.

“This is expected to take in the region of 15 years.”

If, as expected, the closure is agreed, it will block the only designated access route to the remains of Saltom Pit, one of the area’s earliest heritage sites, dating to 1726.

Copeland Council, which is responsible for the site, was once minded to leave the structure to the elements, ultimately leaving the sea to wash away what was left of the ruins.

But councillors had a change of heart in 2008 and worked with the National Trust and West Lakes Renaissance on a project to make the site safe and accessible. The scheme cost £175,000 and Copeland received cash help and advice from English Heritage and European funding.

Remaining visible features include the 18th century sea-wall, the horse-gin circle and cottages and an 1820s vertical-winder engine house.

Pat Graham, Copeland’s head of services, said: “We closed off this footpath because of serious safety concerns about the unstable nature of the area. It continues to be unsafe and unpredictable and it’s clear a safe path cannot be created there in the short or medium term. Therefore the closure needs to be made permanent.

“I’d take this opportunity to advise people again in the strongest terms not to attempt to enter fenced off areas or to make their own route down to the shore – they may be risking serious injury in doing so.”

The plan to permanently close the footpath has been the subject of a consultation period in which no objections were received.

Have your say

I have a great interest in the history of Whitehaven, and particularly the extraction of its coal and the traffic of it to Ireland North and South. This entails many visits to Whitehaven, as a tourist, to study the many remaining physical remains of a once interesting industry and Saltom Pit in particular. It seems ridiculous, in this advanced era, to be advised that access
cannot be provided to these precious remains
and I would suggest this being brought forward to a wider search area for a solution. Let's hear that Whitehaven can do better to retain its attractions.
Patrick McAteer

Posted by Patrick McAteer on 1 February 2013 at 17:04

Indeed Crisby, I fully understand that I am responsible for my own actions, and am prepared to sign a waiver of council and any other interfering do-gooders responsibility in any harm that may come to me. BUT I DON'T HAVE THAT CHOICE DO I? I have no choice. None of us have. This is a dictatorship!

Posted by David Scameron on 29 January 2013 at 21:28

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