Registration & Time Recording Checks

These were similar in appearance and design to the security passes described above. The difference being in their method of use.

At many small establishments employing this type of check, on arrival at work, each worker would report to the work’s time registration office. After confirming his/her unique employment number the time office clerk would record the employee’s time of arrival in a time recording book and move their uniquely numbered time check from the “OUT” to the “IN” side of a numbered tally board. The same procedure would be repeated at the end of the shift at which time the employee’s departure time would be recorded in the same time ledger and their personal time check moved from the “IN” to the “OUT” side of each pair of similarly numbered compartments on the time checkboard. The use of a checkboard allowed the time office staff to see at a glance which workers were on the factory “shop floor”. Usually, time registration would be initiated only after the workers had passed through the works changing rooms and were preparing to start work. Similarly, discharge registration occurred immediately after leaving the factory floor, i.e. prior to entering the work’s change and washrooms in preparation for leaving the factory premises.

A late 19th-century employee’s time check for the privately-owned munitions company G. Kynoch & Company Limited. The example illustrated was issued at their Witton Works in Birmingham

While the above simple system of time recording may have operated fine for small to medium size factories it was arguably impractical for larger ones where the workers needed to be processed quickly without queues forming outside the time office window. For such larger factories, alternative time registration systems were available.

By the outbreak of the Great War many factories had progressed onto using electro-mechanical registration time machines which in many places made the earlier use of time checks and check registration boards redundant. While many of these time clocks operated by stamping a worker’s individual time card (which each worker slotted into the machine at the start and end of each shift) other types still operated via a check system.

With those time clocks which operated with time cards the workers first collected their individual time record cards from a rack on the wall adjacent to the time registration machine. Each card carried the worker’s name and their unique work’s identification. The workers then inserted their cards into a slot in front of the time clock. The time clock then automatically printed their shift start time on the time card. The card was then removed from the machine and returned to the safekeeping of the card storage board. At the end of the shift, the procedure was repeated so as to record each worker’s finish time. Such a procedure is shown in the film clip below.

A contemporary film clip of a group of Great War “munitionettes” changing for work and then “clocking on” at the beginning of their shift

Alternative types of time registration clock utilised a paired set of metallic numbered checks instead of time cards. In this system, each worker had their own uniquely numbered pair of time checks which were often struck on dissimilar metals such as brass and copper in order to quickly distinguish them apart. One disc was used for “clocking on” at the start of each shift while the other was used for clocking off” at the end of the shift. In between shift times, these time checks were kept on a numbered peg board located on a wall adjacent to the time clock (see illustration below).

An example of a time clock used in association with metallic time checks c.1899

At the start of a shift, each worker removed their personal “clocking in” check from the storage board and dropped it into a reception slot in front of the time clock. The check then passed through a chute system within the machine and was deposited into one of a series of compartments (typically 8) arranged around the edge of a slowly rotating turntable which was mechanically linked to the machine’s clock mechanism. Each compartment reflected and was labelled with the given time of the day. At the end of the shift, the workers repeated the process, this time using their separate “clocking off” check.

Part of the internal mechanism of a Llewellin’s & Company time clock showing the check collection drum at its base comprising 24 separate (i.e. half-hour interval) check collection compartments

As and when was convenient the time office staff would retrieve the time checks via a lockable door on the side of the time clock. Thereafter they would record each worker’s attendance in a time register before returning the checks onto the numbered storage board adjacent to the time clock.

A Time Check Storage Board used in association with a Time Clock System

Where a check was intended specifically for use for as a time registration device it often bore the word “TIME CHECK” in its obverse legend, often in the check’s upper field below its suspension hole.