Amman Valley Artifacts and Memorabilia
The brass lamp checks were used as a safety system to see who was in the colliery at any time and also for time keeping; for checking the miners shift time underground.
The number on the check was unique to each miner so could be used for a roll call of whom was underground in times of an explosion or other calamity.
Each miner would collect his lamp check from the Time Office on arrival at the colliery and would hand his check over to the Lamp Man in the Lamp Room in exchange for his safety lamp. The Lamp Man would then hang up the check in the Lamp Room until the miner finished his shift. Upon handing his lamp back in, the Miner would be given his check back.
Later on a different system came in where each miner had two checks; one brass and the other alloy. The Miner entering the mine would hand in the alloy check to the Banksman and the Miner would retain his brass check on his person for his time underground. On leaving the mine at the end of his shift the Miner would hand his brass check to the Banksman. The Banksman is the man who lets the miners into the cage and gets them out.
The lamp check then served the purpose of a "dog tag" and could be used to identify miners killed in an explosion.
A similar system would have been used at the entrance to drift mines. Nowadays a magnetic swipe card is used instead of lamp checks and this is swiped in a machine when a Miner enters or leaves the mine so that everything is logged on a computer.
Thanks to Paul Smales for the information and photographs of the