English Heritage has overseen Chatterley Whitfield's transformation from coal mine to country park
A new chapter has started for a former coal mine in north Staffordshire.
The grounds around the old Chatterley Whitfield Colliery near Biddulph, which closed as a mine in 1976, have been transformed into a new heritage country park.
For some years after closure the works operated as a heritage mining museum, but that venture was not continued.
The 50 acre site has taken two years and £8m to convert into a green open space for local people to enjoy.
The initiative has been achieved with the help of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, English Heritage and Friends of Chatterley Whitfield.
Work began two years ago, making the buildings and structures safe and refurbishing them over time to keep their unique heritage.
But perhaps, the biggest change to the landscape will prove to be the restoration of Ford Green Brook into an ecologically friendly open stream.
New footpaths, including ones with disabled access, have been created to encourage recreational use. Also Cycle Route 55, one of the national network of cycle paths, has been retained and enhanced.
The pit's spoil heap has been kept as a reminder of the work of generations of local men.
Chatterley Whitfield Colliery is located near the village of Brindley Ford, within the city boundaries of Stoke-on-Trent.
The site was first used as a coal merchant's yard from approximately 1750 onwards. It then operated as a colliery around 1850 and was the first colliery in Britain to mine one million saleable tons of coal in one year. It closed down in 1976.
Ancient Monument status
Several years later, Chatterley Whitfield was recognised as one of the best remaining examples of a coalmining complex in the UK and was given Ancient Monument status by English Heritage in 1993.
It was also regarded as one of the most important at-risk industrial heritage sites in the country. In 2007, it appeared on English Heritage's Buildings at Risk register.
The Chatterley Whitfield Project hoped to address concerns of possible dereliction to the site.
This partnership between Stoke-on-Trent City Council, English Heritage, English Partnerships and Friends of Chatterley Whitfield, amongst others, was responsible for transforming the site into a country park.
Jim Worgan, the chairman of the Friends of Chatterley Whitney Mine, said: "It's going to be a terrific amenity for this part of the city and it's an absolutely wonderful thing that's been created."
Stoke-on-Trent City Council's Lord Mayor, Denver Tolley, along with Stoke-on-Trent North's Labour MP Joan Walley will officially declare the site open on Saturday, 23 October at 1pm.
The Land Restoration Trust, an organisation that provides long-term maintenance of public spaces, will take on its ownership and will be responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the space.