Brass ‘motties’ or ‘checks’ were used for pay identification and more importantly as a means of a safety check when miners went underground. In the event of an underground incident such as an accident, fire or inrush of water, motties would be used to identify which miners were in that area of the pit.
In modern pits, motties were replaced with electronic swipe card systems, although the original brass motties were retained for emergency use in the event of a system failure. In common with other types of mining memorabilia, motties are actively sold on the internet. A National Mining Memorabilia Association exists to collect and preserve brass mining motties.
Fig 1: Safety Check Office known as the Mottie Office at Moorgreen Colliery, NCB South Nottinghamshire. Photo Credit – K.Bestwick collection.
Fig 2: Preserved Mottie Board and a dummy Mottie Man at the now closed Snibston Discovery Centre, Coalville, as part of the coal mining heritage guided tour. Photo Credit – MuBu Miner.
Fig 3: Swipe Card system at British collieries introduced circa 1993. Photo Credit – MuBu Miner collection.
Fig 4: The swipe card system was operating at the remaining British collieries in the early 1990’s. Officially known as the ‘Attendance Card System’. Photo Credit – MuBu Miner collection.