Bagworth is an old medieval agricultural village which saw significant growth when a colliery was opened in 1828. The coal pit after having been one of the most productive in Britain, with 14 foot high and 200 yard wide coalfaces was finally closed 1991. The village had grown to depend on mining, so it was ironic that devastating subsidence in the 310 yard deep workings was the cause of the destruction of public houses, a school, a chapel, seven farmhouses, the fish and chip shop and over 190 other cottages and houses. In 1970, one villager described how the floors started rising, ceilings dropped visibly over just a few hours and floor tiles cracked like Rice Crispies. That snowy winter the National Coal Board rehoused folk in caravans in a local car park.
The village also had a Norman church, but this too suffered and was subsequently demolished in 1968. It had been a small church built of local stone with a short tower, Norman arches and a Saxon door. In it's place, the Coal Board constructed an edifice of CLASP prefabricated concrete panels on top of a floating foundation. A salvaged Norman arch from the original church was incorporated into the structure.
On a cold February afternoon I stood under the trees looking at today's church and the old gravestones in front of it. If it was not for the signs and it's location, I doubt that I would have known it to be church at all. Instead, I saw a building with a design inherited from 1960 style pit head designs. To my eye it looked like a small version of one of Cotgrave's koele towers, a style that had then been considered modern and distinctive. Clearly, in the architect's eye and through the money of the Coal Board, coal mines and church designs converged with one another. I thought of the old Norman church and after wandering up to inspect the old stonework that had been salvaged, I noticed that in many places the more modern concrete was rotting and cracking, not through subsidence, but because the weather had stressed it too much. It was yet another irony taking place, that despite the efforts of the Coal Board to fullfill their social responsibility, nature was stamping it's authority on the matter. I've no doubt that the concrete will one day be gone and only the gravestones will remain.