1) A steep hillside, often with a road taking a direct route from top to bottom.
1608 in the East warde are woods ... & they growe upon banke sides, Pickering
1649 the way in the banke there leading betwixt Hallifax and Wakefield
1755 from the house in the bank there to the new chapel, Haworth. It was a word particularly productive of minor place-names and Smith lists examples from the twelfth century.
2) One of several words for a coal-face that was being worked.
A nineteenth-century west Yorkshire historian defined it as a working place from 3 to 20 yards wide, generally driven ‘on the bord’, that is ‘at right angles to the cleavage of the coal’. In Swillington, in 1730, coals were got ‘in the far Banks as well as the near ones’ and in 1767 a workman at Tong spent half a day cleaning a bank, presumably preparing a face-working.
3) As a coal-mining term ‘bank’ referred to the ‘Surface of the Earth’ (CC29); that is the working area around the top of the mine shaft, in contrast to the working area below ground.
It was used as both a noun and a verb: 1486 they shall deliver … on pit bank 3 loads of coals yearly, Cortworth. It seems likely that the ‘bank’ was originally the earth that accumulated as the shaft was being sunk: in 1704, at Farnley near Leeds, the workers were required to banke the pit sinking. Eventually, no doubt, anything drawn up the shaft could be banked, including the coal. This seems to be the inference in 1754 when Enoch Newhouse of Beeston was paid six shillings for banking 6 days. In Northumberland and Durham, to ‘bank out’ was to empty the corves in which the coal had been drawn up. In time the word came to be used attributively in compounds such as ‘bank-engine’ and ‘bank-head’.