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Mining Checks, Tallies, Tokens & Medals
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Colliery Canteen Checks & Tokens

In David Shaw’s excellent introductory article to Colliery Checks he covers the subject of canteen tokens for which he writes;

If the miner was required to work extra hours, he was entitled to refreshment after every two hours. The payment for such free canteen meals would take the form of a numbered check, tokens bearing varying monetary denominations or stipulating that they were "good for" a certain type of meal or beverage. In later years authorisation for free meals would take the form of a paper chit, exchangeable at the pit canteen for the equivalent amount stated.

In addition to their being checks for the issue of overtime meals and beverages the worn check illustrated below also indicates that at some pits cigarettes were also on offer to those taking breaks during extended overtime working

32 mm Dia., uniface, brass embossed check from Park Hall Colliery, North Staffordshire.

It would be interesting to see what other colliery canteen tokens are know bearing details of meals and beverages. Elsewhere on the Forum we have already seen a posting about one such token from Markham Collieries for a MEAT SANDWICH.

Mark Smith

Re: Colliery Canteen Checks & Tokens

I've got this canteen check but dont know if it's connected to the colliery. I can't find any reference on Google to B. Barlow. It's blank on reverse.

If anyone knows please let us know.

Regards Pete

Re: Colliery Canteen Checks & Tokens

i started my underground training when i left school at seaham colliery better known localy as the nack pit , we were given the same tokens as yours to use in the pit canteen at dinner times , but these were only issued out when we were doing part of ower training on the surface , at easinghton colliery were i went to work at when i compleated my training at the nack pit , we would be given a bait chit i.e a small peice of paper signed by the colliery owerman if we worked a double shift under ground , this entitled us to a warm meal ect from the pit canteen and was handed in to the canteen manager , i can not recall seeing canteen tokens used at easinghton colliery only the paper chits , but we definately used the tokens at the nack pit

Re: Colliery Canteen Checks & Tokens

Thanks goes to another Yorkshire collector for pointing out the existance of the following pre-1947 milk token from Tinsley Park Colliery in Sheffield. This likely pit canteen token is uniface, brass embossed and measures 26.5mm in diameter.

Re: Colliery Canteen Checks & Tokens

Here's another really weir cast white metal canteen token from Pegswood Colliery in Northumberland. It measures 39mm in diameter and is 4mm thick! This token is featured in the "Mystery Tokens" section of the NMMA web site. Follow the link above for full details and information of its descovery and manufacture.

The significance of the month names on this token are a complete mystery. Has anyone got any ideas or seen anything else half similar from anywhere else???

Re: Colliery Canteen Checks & Tokens

The months on the check are quarter days for some reason. Familiar to those who rent properties out as being the first day of each of those months when rent is due in each year. So this could be property or buildings at the pit rented out and days of rent payment - but unlikely. So what else routinely happened in a pit four times a year?

Re: Colliery Canteen Checks & Tokens

sam dyson at sharlston got a full week in lol.

Re: Colliery Canteen Checks & Tokens

I can recall that 'cavelling' to decide the working places for coal hewers, fillers and putters was done four times per year.

I can recall that when I did my underground mining training in 1950 that I was provided with a free meal when I was on the surface but this was provided in the canteen on receipt of a paper chitty.

Referring to Anthony's posting I worked at Seaham Training Centre for a short period during 1964/5 and I believe that mining trainees were provided with a free meal but I do not recall if checks were used at that time. Engineering trainees were not provided with a free meal but I know that some adult trainees attending other training courses at some other centres were provided with a free meal or alternatively sandwiches and tea which were brought in but I never saw any checks being used for this.

Re: Colliery Canteen Checks & Tokens

Some miners I knew only changed their Pit Socks 4 times a year or could it be how many times they took their Baths towel home to be washed.Most only took it home once a year at august holidays and that was because they had to so the lockers could have their annual clean and fumigation. Happy days Top & Bottom lockers and no toilets down pit .At our pit we used Gob Rabbits for toilet rolls,Girder Pipits would have been better but you could never catch the dam things.

Re: Colliery Canteen Checks & Tokens

Does Boss Sergai Meercat know you are putting hilarious snippets of your glorious mining career on this forum that should be in Great History Book of Master Race Meercats.
First class account, absolutely funny, but I think a lot of truth also!!! Keep up the posting of Meercat History for our Sunday laughs.

What are Girder Pippits and Gob Rabbits by the way?

Can anyone else post words or phrases, and meanings, that were used down the pit - true ones please! We might be able to start a dictionary of pit vacabulary, that will be of use in the future when Mines have to be opened up again!!

Re: Colliery Canteen Checks & Tokens

Seeing as how the posting is about canteen checks, I should have looked carefully and seen - canteen - at the bottom of the check - DOH. So, it is something to do with access or issue of, to/from the canteen, during, or on an occasion, in the four months of the year shown.
Would contractors have access to the canteen during those four months only for maintenance/cleaning/inspection of the canteen? Would contractors do work elsewhere at the pit during each of those four months on an annual basis and get a meal? What could happen at Pegswood during those four months each year, when someone would need access to, or issue from, the canteen?
There is the question My Dear Watson, what is the answer my Dear Holmes.

Re: Colliery Canteen Checks & Tokens


Thanks for the information about the Seaham Colliery canteen tokens. I've never heard of them being used there before. I wander if any have made it into any collections?

In your e-mail you said they had the pit name and the word CANTEEN on them. Did they look anything like the one below from Sherburn Hill Colliery. Up until your Forum posting these was the only canteen checks I had heard about from the Durham Coalfield. It's difficult to say if these were issued either pre or post 1947. My guess is that they are NCB.

(Approx. 33mm dia. Uniface. Brass Embossed)



Re: Colliery Canteen Checks & Tokens

This overtime free meal chitty has just been e-mailed in from an ex-Penallta Colliery miner. It's the same sort of paper chit as Anthony and Alan have mentioned above as being used at other pit canteens in Co. Durham. While a nice piece of colliery ephemera it would have been a whole lot better for us check collectors if it was all brass embosses.

(Approx. actual height 4 inches tall)

Thanks for taking the time for scanning and sending it in to share with the rest of us Dave. Its nice to know that things like this still survive somewhere