Savile Pit Headgear
Not the most aesthetic structure in Methley, but certainly the most visible, even more than St Oswalds Church or Methley Hall. One of the things it also had was probably the best overview of the village.
To stand on the headgear platform one tended to hold on to the rail, it always seemed breezy, with a large drop on the outside and an even larger drop on the inside.
The westerly view following the line of the track to the explosives store (Powder Hole) was partially obstructed by the LMS railway embankment. At the store Ernie Micklefield could be seen checking incoming explosives and detonators with Harold Shillito and Norman Jackson.
Immediately behind the track lay a backcloth of the Hollings and the roofs of Bondfield Terrace leading to, on the left a distant view of Methley woods and Methley Hall to the right of Wheatleys farm, both visible as the land gently rises. Turning slightly, Shann House and farm buildings front Methley North railway station, Bond House and the United Kingdom pub. The rooftops of Woodrow can be seen and in the far distance Melwood House Farm, Wood End and the adjacent Estate Office in front of the thick blanket of Bluebell Wood.
The line of Oulton Lane can be traced by the edge of the wood, leading to the distant Oulton Church and its magnificent flying buttresses. A few degrees to the north west offers a view of the receding LMS line to Leeds, a busy line with its more famous travellers – The Devonian and the Thames Clyde Express with their billowing and then dispersing clouds of black smoke.
Continuing to the right the mineral rail spur from Savile can be seen to join the main line at the Fleet Lane signal box and to the right a view of the disused staithes along with damaged railway wagons. In the background can be seen Lemonroyd Locks and the canal running parallel with the railway line. In the distance Fleet bridge and the petrol storage containers also stand out. Immediately below at this point is the colliery wagon weigh house and trucks filled with Savile wagons full of shiny beeston cobbles and trebles destined for the Leeds and North Yorkshire fireplace market.
Turning due north, the view overlooks the coal loading cut from the canal and the donkey bridge. Immediately behind the canal is the original course of the river Aire before the large flood lake and island with Astley in the distance. Further out is arguably the best view from Methley, which is the two hills forming the Great Preston escarpment, the northern edge of the Aire valley.
From Savile the view NNE is dominated by, in the distance extensive mine waste tipping from Bowers Row and nearby the disused Astley coal staithe which can be seen adjacent to the ha’penny bridge (Caroline Bridge). A similar view extends from the nearby Victoria House with the carpet of Savile tip leading out to the canal. Directly east the raised area of the Savile tip restricts vision of the area from Pit Lane to Kippax locks, However the headgear and colliery buildings at Allerton Bywater are to be seen further on.
The view in the foreground from the start of Main Street is dominated by the mock Tudor Miners Welfare, the Methodist Chapel and to the right the bell tower roof of Mickletown School. The access road into the pit via the Landsdale weigh is mostly empty but the cyclist must be Alan (Mishy) Worth along with Robin Savory, Peter Bell and George Stanger making their way home.
As the land falls to the confluence of the Aire and Calder, little can be seen of Methley mires however the bushes and trees around the two oxbow lakes are clearly evident. Behind are the industrial features of Hicksons and also Laportes chemical works in Castleford and behind them the elevated area of Airedale (Castleford).
Directly south east overlooking Smirthwaite House and its trees the eye passes across Savile road by the end of Oaksfield and crosses Pinfold lane with Green lane and the outstanding Dunsford house sited before the hill at Three Lane Ends.
Panning to the right across the flat Windmill Moor can be seen Methley Common and a further traverse brings Moorhouse farm and Methley Junction and its rows into view in the background.
The A639 Barnsdale Turnpike is clearly discernible from Green Lane to the Pindergreen bridge.
The southwest quadrant view of the village across Church Lane is masked by the railway embankment with only the raised contours of Scholey Hill and its woodland hinterland on view in the distance and only the top of St Oswalds church tower and the trees around the Cedars visible in the foreground.
The final turn of the compass just catches a glimpse of the trees along Park lane and the brown excavation mounds of the open cast mining in that area. We seem to have come back to where we started in more ways than one.
Fortunately from this vantage point most of the surrounding land is river plain with the gently raised land to the west, all offering an almost complete view of the village. It was also noticeable how many trees complement these views with intermittent trees along hedgerows and lanes, plantation trees and of course the extensive and beautiful Methley woodlands. One day the pit and opencast workings will cease and village life will face different pressures as efforts will surely be made to develop the village in other ways.
Did you know – Savile headgear contained a nuclear missile warning alarm!