Information Requested About "Riding" or "Rope" Checks.

Prior to 1947 cage riding  token systems appear to have been used in certain of Britain's larger pits to control the order in which the miners descended and ascended the shafts. These tokens were referred to in certain parts of Yorkshire (at least) as "Riding" or "Rope" checks and would bear the rope (i.e. cage ride) number which each miner was entitled to catch. 

A rubbing of the obverse & reverse sides of a riding check from Hemsworth Collieries - Haigh Moor. Presumably this check allowed its recipient to board cage or "Rope" ride No.16 (Actual size 35 mm dia.).

Obverse & Reverse sides of an unusually shaped "Riding Check" from Allerton Bywater Collieries.  ( Actual size 43 mm tall by 41.5 mm wide).

"Riding" checks appear to have been used in conjunction with the normal safety lamp checking systems. It is understood that such checks were given out by the banksman to the miners while they waited at the pit bank to descend into the pit. These checks bore the respective cage ride number each miner was entitled to descend on. Those men at the front of the queue when waiting to descend would have been given low numbered cage riding checks while those at the rear of the queue would  have been given higher numbered checks signifying the fact that they had caught later cage rides. The riding checks would have been retained by the miners while underground.  At the end of the shift, once arriving back at the bit bottom, the checks would have be shown to the onsetter. The respective number on each miners' checks would have determined the order in which they were allowed to board the cages to be raised to the pit bank. The "Riding" check system thus ensured that each miner spent a similar amount of time underground each shift thus maintaining that their overall working hours were fairly regulated. The order in which men were lowered and raised from the mine was a particular issue at many of the larger pits especially those with reduced capacity man riding cages and/or where several hundred miners had to be lowered and raised each shift via a series of successive cage rides.

I would appreciate it if anyone can provide us with any confirmation or further information about the use of "Riding" or "Rope" checks. Any information, no matter how small, would be greatly appreciated. 

Submitted By : Mark Smith & Ian Coley.
Date: September 2003

Just out of interest I have two different types of ridding check issued in the name of the Allerton Bywater Collieries. In addition to the shield shape one shown above I also have a similar sized square one. The design of this check is brass embossed and uniface. Its obverse is stamped with the number "20". 

Submitted By : Jeff Thompson.  
Date: October 2003


At Lofthouse Colliery there were two shafts the “A” and the “B”.

The “A” shaft was for material and men while the “B” Shaft was for use by men only. The “B” shaft cage held 20 men while the “A” shaft cage held 32.

The men who worked in the “Blocking Bed Seam” had preference to ride out of the pit first at end of each shift because their seam was near pit bottom and they descended into the pit first at the start of each working day. The “A” shaft rode men at set shift times only and utilised a much bigger cage which held 32 men, the first 32 down got a copper check so they had preference to walk to the front of the queue at end of shift at this shaft.

These copper checks were introduced prior to 1947 but continued to be used through to N.C.B. days. A lot of these checks survived because they were taken extra care of by the miners. If a man lost his ridding check or left it at home he lost his early ride. Deputies also had a had copper check which allowed them to use the early ride system. The copper check indicated to the banksman or overman that those carrying it had permission to come out of mine early.

Submitted By : Peter Harrison.  
Date: January 2004        


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