A proud pit fireman A hundred year old certificate

The archive of old photos on the Howes side of the family has now passed in to my possession. This will allow more scans, filling in gaps from the 2011 exercise {1}. There are also a few snaps on the Watkins side that were in a separate bundle or mixed up in other papers.

Here’s a partial image of probably the largest item in the whole collection – 16½ by 20 inches {2}. It has multiple folds, a few tears and a little sticky tape, but not bad for a hundred years.

Levi Watkins Fireman Certificatert1915








The bottom border

watkinslevi_firemancert_bottomReg. No. looks like 403/15

Grandad Levi Watkins wouldn’t be 21 for another 5 months, young to have such a key role in pit safety {3}. As fireman he would be responsible for checking gases underground and “generally to ascertain that the ventilation of the mine is efficient” – see Occupations page.

His, and his family’s, pride in the position is clearly shown by keeping hold of the certificate (and the just as tatty, but rather smaller, printed slip announcing that he has passed the exam) for so long.


  1. First article from the 2011 scanning is Photos of great great uncle Sam, farmhand.
  2. Anyone know what paper size that is? Seems to be a trimmed down ‘Large Post’.
  3. Having started work in the Rhondda mines just before he was 12 in 1906, he continued there until 1926. His daughter records “thank goodness my dad must have done his job well, as he was never involved in (a gas explosion)”.

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