Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Touching the past… a curriculum artefact...

This arrived today. 
It's a small brass disc, which has been worn smooth to the touch. On one side it says N.C.B (National Coal Board) and around the bottom edge it says "Silverwood Colliery". On the other side is the number 220. There is a circular hole punched at the top.

It follows a post a few days ago about the threats facing Tata Steel, and the story of my own family's industrial 'heritage'. My granddad worked at Silverwood Colliery, and although I very much doubt that this was his token, he would have known the man whose number this was. It was exchanged for a safety lamp, and latterly other equipment, and then in turn replaced by, of all things, a swipe card...

There was a board at the top of the lift shaft where tokens were replaced, and this was a visual check that everyone who went down to the seams had come back up again… and that all the lamps had been returned. It was also a check that the miner was actually 'at work' and apparently also acted as a time check in terms of clocking on and off...

It's a small metal disc, but it represents part of someone's daily working life in an industry which has disappeared, but which shaped the landscape (cultural as well as physical) of large parts of the UK. It is a way in to a lost industry, and could act as something to hang a lesson on… and it also forms part of what Christine Counsell (who I'm co-presenting with at an RGS event in a month's time) would call my 'content repertoire'. Which could also relate to the idea of powerful knowledge...

No comments: