I wrote this article several years ago and made certain assumptions as to the possible reasons that a shaft or winder would be called a Shonky.
I knew that the listed pits had Shonky shafts from the tales of old miners now passed on.
I was contacted recently regarding the Glapwell shaft as follows.
Hi there, I am 1333 and have contributed a few distant memories to the Glapwell site. I was browsing through just now and noticed your resume on the shonky. I once had a rather hair raising experience in this shaft in around 1956. I was on the Deephards roadlaying gang with Reg Lovell initially and had a "ticket" to ride the shaft more or less any time to get stuff made or repaired by the blacksmiths. I was going back down with a V section for points on the junction of "C"s panel and there was the surveyor, Johnny something his name was (Syston rings a bell) and two linelads. Now there was a kink in the shaft just below the Top Hards inset and the cages used to rub the sides as a matter of course. I think the winder must have forgotten to slow down or something because the cage hit the side and got stuck at a slight angle. I need not tell you that our knuckles were white hanging onto the rails for all we were worth and there was a nasty smell.!! We could hear the onsetter in the inset on the phone to the winder and they made an attempt to move it without success. Cyril Hazlehurst, the Low Main undermanager was sent for and all the conversation was audible. We had been stuck for quite a while when he arrived and they tried one or two more tugs on the rope to free the cage with the same success. Mr Hazlehurst then was heard to say and I like to think this was his sense of humour, which was not appreciated at the time ,"Has the cap pulled,??". It was then decided to apply full power to the winding engine to free the cage and it finally did free and with one hell of a jerk and we finally gained the shaft bottom. So, your definition of crooked and rough riding could certainly have been applied to this one.
At Markham Colliery and other collieries in the area one of the manriding shafts was referred to as the 'Shonky' shaft. Markham No3 shaft of No2 colliery was called the 'Shonky Shaft'. Incidentally this was the shaft which had the terrible disaster in 1973. On the 30th July, when the manriding cage in No3 shaft at No2 colliery went free fall into the pit bottom after a brake rod fractured. This resulted in the loss of eighteen lives and a further twelve severely injured men.
Three other collieries with the name were at nearby Oxcroft, Ramcroft and Glapwell. The Ramcroft colliery shaft was a small shaft and winding equipment which was used only occasionally when the main coal and manriding shaft was being repaired or examined.
At Markham the shaft was latterly used to ride men and materials but was previously a shaft used to ride men out of normal manriding times. i.e. When the main shaft was set up to load tubs of coal and the riding of men would have interrupted the coaling process because of the fitting of the safety devices on the cage. The men who rode the 'Shonky' shaft would be the men on overtime or coming on early or managers and overmen riding out of normal manriding times.
Affectionately called by the miners the 'Money Grabbers'.
A 'shonky' or 'shonk', is a derogatory or offensive name for a Jew. It is an abbreviated form of the word 'shoniker', used originally by Cockneys to describe a person who was unreliable, dishonest, crooked: someone engaged in illegal business activities or a 'money grabber'.
It is possible that the number three shaft at Markham was once set aside as a spare shaft, for use in emergencies. Or it may possibly refer to a shaft, which by virtue of it not being in continual use was deemed to be unreliable or had a very poor shaky ride.
The Shonky Shaft was either the one used by the 'Money Grabbers' or an unreliable one, or possibly one that was bent or not straight.