In early January of 2003 the NMMA was contacted by Geoff Colver, the chairman of Blairhall Community Council in Fife. Geoff explained that his local community were in the process of making a small public garden in remembrance of Blairhall Colliery. Geoff went on to say that as part of the garden's centre piece it pass planned to incorporate the image of a colliery check from the old pit. Local miners had described these checks as being triangular and made of brass but unfortunately none could now be tracked down within the local community. Geoff was hoping that the NMMA could assist him in either confirming what Blairhall Colliery's checks looked like or better still could help him obtain one.
After this appeal was received a message for help was posted on Geoff's behalf on the NMMA Web Site's Forum Page. Although no checks were forthcoming from Geoff's appeal several NMMA members sent in rubbings of various N.C.B. and pre 1947 checks from Blairhall. Many of these were recognisable as being copied from the excellent set of reference rubbings complied by Peter Wall. Peter has supplied many fellow collectors with copies of these rubbings over the years as a useful reference document to illustrate some of the scarcer colliery checks that are known to exist.
Rubbings of pit checks from Blairhall Colliery - Left: a pre 1947 check issued in the name of the Coltness Iron Company. Right: A post 1947 NCB issued check. Both are brass embossed measuring approximately 35 mm tall by 39 mm wide.
Geoff Colver was extremely please with the response to his appeal and promised to keep the NMMA, who he was most grateful to, informed with how the Blairhall Project progressed.
Tragically, Geoff died of a heart attack in March of 2003 and never saw the fruits of his labours. However, in July of the same year the NMMA were again contacted about the Blairhall Colliery Garden Project by Andy Easton of Fife County Council. Andy was pleased to announce that based on the image of the N.C.B. Blairhall colliery check number "418" (supplied via the NMMA) the council had produced a 450 mm diameter bronze plague which had been set into the face of a 5.5 tonne sand stone block that now formed the centre piece of a Colliery Memorial Garden in Blairhall.
The bronze plaque depicting Blairhall Colliery lamp check number "418" - Could this check be in your collection? If so let us know.
The new Colliery memorial garden is situated in Rintoul Avenue , Blairhall on the site of a former old folks shelter that was erected in the early 1950's and which acted as a meeting place and location for social events up until its demolition in 2002. After meetings between both the local and county councils it was decided that this site would be ideal for a memorial garden to commemorate the community's local links with the mining industry. After reviewing several layout options prepared for the proposed garden by Fife County Council the local community chose the final design to be implemented. The idea for the pit check to be used as the main theme within the garden came from Councillor Anne McGovern while the idea for the 6 tonne stone block came from Geoff Colver. The main elements of the garden comprise a semi circular footpath with cobble edging and tegula block paving all enclosed by newly planted trees and shrubs etc. There garden also contains benches (one of with bears a memorial plaque to Geoff Colver) plus several circular areas surrounded by cobbles. The latter areas will provide the receptacles for various mosaics depicting mining related themes which will be produced by local school children and a community artist. The garden is linked via a granular path to nearby woodland.
The Blairhall Colliery Memorial Garden pictured while under construction.
On behalf of both the local community of Blairhall plus Fife County Council, Andy Easton once again thanked the NMMA for their invaluable help in providing the information on which the garden's centre piece was designed.