Unusual dated checks from Victoria Colliery in Biddulph.

A pair of white metal (left) plus brass (right) checks from Victoria Colliery, Biddulph (Actual size 39 mm wide by 35 mm tall).

Many collectors of pit checks will be familiar with the above examples from Victoria Colliery in Biddulph, Stoke-on-Trent. Both of these checks are normally attributed as being pre 1947 in date.

There are a couple of things that make the white metal check in this pair a little different. Firstly the choice of metal used - they appear to have been struck in nickel or a nickel based alloy. Secondly, and more intriguing is the addition of what appears to be a date, "1936", embossed on their reverse (see below). The similar brass checks in this series are all uniface in design.

The "1936" dated reverse of the white metal alloy check from Victoria Colliery, Biddulph

 Why do the above checks carry a date  and what significance does it have? 

Submitted By : Mark Smith.
Date: December 2003
I have seen these checks a lot and was always led to believe by fellow miners I talked with in Stoke that the date on their reveres is to commemorate the opening of the pit head baths (PHB) at Victoria Colliery.
After reading your enquiry I have made further enquiries with a well respected local historian and author who has lived in Biddulph over 60 years plus. He confirmed that the date on the checks does coincide and commemorate the opening of the PHB at Victoria Colliery. This was a bit of a first for the area as these baths were the first to be installed at any of the pits in the North Staffordshire Coalfield (i.e. the Stoke-on-Trent area). I expect that was worth commemorating?
I wander then if these white metal checks could be PHB checks and not lamp checks? As many collectors are aware several pits issued such checks which look to all intents and purposes like lamp checks but which normally carry the words "PIT HEAD BATHS" somewhere in their legends. Although the above white metal checks don't carry these words they do have the crucial date on their reverse which directly relates them to the colliery's PHB.    
Submitted By : Dave Richards.
Date: January 2004


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