Artefact identified

Following the Trust’s AGM last weekend, members were taken on an extended tour of the mine operated by our colleagues at the Apedale Heritage Centre. The railways and coal mining are inextricably entwined, not least because we occupy buildings which were formerly used by the previous mining company. They weren’t particularly thorough at cleaning up when they moved out, and we still find artefacts in dark corners. One such is sown in the picture, and its function had eluded us for some time. Research has now shown that it is part of a Saunders-Roe Miner’s Sundial (Mk37). Battery powered watches and clocks are banned underground in mines, so it can be difficult to gauge the passage of time; the Miner’s Sundial was developed to overcome this problem. Keeping track of time was important – how else would the miners know when it was meal times or when the overtime started? The Sundial had a secondary purpose, which is that it could indicate astronomical north, which could provide a useful baseline when carrying out survey work. We will be donating this interesting relic to the Heritage Centre for their museum. It would seem to be mostly made of Brass.