Its half term so me and the Missus are both off. The Missus does have a tummy bug but was well enough for a trip out today. After a nice light lunch at Rivermeet Cafe in Methley we visited the St.Aidens RSPB Nature Park, both found to the east of Leeds.
St.Aidens was once a vast opencast mine and it deployed the largest dragline in Europe to recover the surface coal.
Amazingly that massive walking dragline is still there!
Built in the 1940's and called Bucyrus Erie it eventually settled, worked and retired in Leeds, England.
Like a Gray and Houseman Road Construction Machine from Thunderbirds, up close the dragline really is a gigantic metal behemoth!
The feet reminded me of the corner treads on that other giant, the Saturn V's Crawler.
These dragline feet actually walked!
You can read how here.
To get a full picture of its scale here's a short video I took of the thing and the reclaimed opencast nature park its set in.
Interestingly, the year we arrived in our adopted County of Yorkshire, 1988, St. Aidens flooded.
The adjacent River Aire had burst its banks and rapidly filled the huge opencast mine.
For a while the river actually flowed backwards as it drained into the vast hole! That must have been staggering to see for anyone who witnessed it.
When it was filled it had created a water body 70 metres deep. That's just 6 metres shallower than Wast Water, the deepest lake in England.
Ten years later, with Government backing, the river was eventually diverted and the hole drained to reveal the lucrative coal bed once more.
The dragline, tall and proud, a sentinal of steel, witnessed it all.
Have you got any massive machines near you?