What's the story behind this check?

Can anyone tell me anything about this unusual check (36.5 mm diameter)? Well some might wander initially what exactly is unusual about it? The answer is that its made of steel with either a nickel or chromed surface finish. The number stamped on its reverse is "666". Why is this N.C.B. check made of steel? Although the use of steel checks is known at some pits prior to 1947 their use was extremely limited. After 1947 I know of no steel checks from any colliery in the UK. The nickel or chromed surface finish is, I think, unique for a colliery check.
The form of the above check from Rockingham Colliery, near Barnsley in Yorkshire, is very common and follows a style of check design that was common in several other  South Barnsley district pits (i.e. the original  Area No.5 of the N.C.B.'s North East Division). Included in these are Barrow, Smithywood, Monk Bretton, Wentworth Silkstone, Barley Hall, Wombwell Main, Houghton Main (oddly in  Area No.4) and possibly Barnsley Main plus several more others.

This distinctive type of South Barnsley area check was part of a pair used at each of the above pits throughout the 1960 and 70s. The pair (see below) consisted of a round brass embossed check plus a second which was square and zinc embossed. 

The zinc check was given to the banksman on entering the cage or drift while the brass one was kept on each miner's person until he exited from the cage or drift at the end of the shift. After collection the checks were returned to the check/deployment office from where they were collected by the miners at the start of each shift. 

Any information about the unusual steel check above would be most welcome.

Submitted By : Mark Smith.
Date: May 2003

The square and round ROCKINGHAM checks shown above were in use right up until the closure of the pit. I left on September 18th of 1978 but the pit rundown continued until mid 1979 when it closed. As for the nickel plated check I have never seen one before. 

There were various check designs used at Rockingham throughout the N.C.B. period. The two brass and zinc ones above were the most common, these made up about 90+% of the check types still in use towarrds the time of the pit's closure. All four pits in the Rockingham area had virtually the same checks and checking system, ROCKINGHAM, WHARNECLIFFE SILKSTONE (PILLEY), HOYLAND SILKSTONE (PLATTS COMMON) and SKIER SPRINGS. Together these mines formed the ROCKINGHAM complex. All the coal came out at ROCKINGHAM,the ROCKINGHAM and PILLEY coal was mixed and came out of one seam, the PLATTS COMMON coal came out at a lower level at another shaft which was a steam driven winding engine, called a Copy Winder. The SKIER SPRINGS coal came over to ROCKINGHAM via lorries where it was screened and washed. 

Bye the way on closure all the square zinc/alloy ROCKINGHAM checks were then sent over to KINSLEY DRIFT and were used from the time of its opening through to closure of this small pit. The zinc checks were used in conjunction with a round brass (retained by each miner until the time of leaving the drift at the end of each shift). These brass checks were machine stamped and bore the initials N.C.B. K.D. on them.

Submitted By: Tony Lewis
Date: May 2003

If you can provide any further information about the above item then please contact us via the e-mail reply link below.


Previous    Home