Information Requested About "Man Train" Checks.

A pair of "MANTRAIN NO.1" checks (Actual size 39 mm #).

The above checks are believed to have come from a Yorkshire Colliery. Their exact purpose and method of use is a mystery but one possible explanation is that they were used as riding tokens for one of the underground "paddy" trains which transported miners to and from the coal faces. 

It is only conjecture but such tokens or tickets may have been given out in pairs to each miner by the onsetter on entering the workings. The first group of men arriving at the drift mouth or pit bottom would be given tokens to ride the first "paddy" train while the next group of arrivals would be given tokens for later train rides (i.e. possibly labeled Mantrain No.2 or No.3 etc.). Presumably one of each pair of similarly labeled tokens would have been handed by each miner to the "paddy" train driver on boarding the shuttle service. It is possible that the second token in each pair would have been used as a ticket to return from the work face to the bit bottom or surface. Presumably at the end of the shift queuing miners in possession of a "Mantrain No.1" token would be allowed to board the first train out of the district while men with tokens for other numbered rides would have to wait their turn and catch the train ride corresponding with their specifically labeled tokens. If the above supposition is correct, and it may well not be, such "Mantrain" tickets/tokens would have been used in a similar way to another type of little known colliery token, the "Cage Riding" or "Rope" check.

I would appreciate it if anyone can provide me with any confirmation or further information about the above types of check. Have any other collectors come across "Mantrain" tokens or anything similar? If so I would welcome any information they may have about them. 

Submitted By : Mark Smith.
Date: September 2003
I worked as an electrician at Barnsley Main for a number of years where "manriders" weren't installed underground until about 1957-58. I don't know of any check system used in connection with the "manriders" at Barnsley Main though it would have been a good idea. The "manrider" went down to one particular district and I don't think there was any need for a priority system for men getting on and off it as the number of workers that used it wasn't too high. If you missed the ride then you walked. As we electricians and fitters always did anyway. As for riding the shaft it was every man for himself. We used to queue up through a narrow tunnel and got out when it was our turn. The cage held 36 men so I think with about 200 or so men and two cages running it wouldn't be too long a wait to transfer all the workforce. By the way we tradesmen used to make friends with the onsetter and would ride out with the horses who came out first, crafty lot eh! Sorry I couldn't be any more help.
Submitted By : Ted Simpson. 
Date: September 2003             

An ex-colliery deputy friend of mine, who started work as a boy in the pits around Barnsley in the 1930s, informs me that these checks were issued to the "man" or "paddy" train drivers at certain of the Yorkshire pits he once worked at. The checks would be used as normal "pit" or "lamp" checks but were obviously personalised for the given occupation of the train drivers. There was normally only one train driver per shift at the pits he worked at so it is not surprising that the checks illustrated aren't stamped with any identification numbers. There just wasn't any need for them.

The train drivers would be issued with two safety lamps. One was for their personal use while seated on the train while the other was fixed onto the front of the train itself.

The mantrains he remembers were rope operated off a stationary haulage engine. However, they still required a driver whose job it was to reach up and pull the overhead communications wire. This wire sounded a bell at the haulage station letting the winding operator know when to stop and start the haulage system (i.e. when the train reached its various "dropping-off" stations).

Submitted By : Graham Smith.  
Date: September 2003      

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