Durham & Tyneside Dialect Group / Word Lists /


"Pitman's Glossary by Geordie McBurnie, Deputy, Glebe Colliery, Co Durham (died 1979). Collected by Ada Radford of Darlington." [Glebe Colliery, Washington, was open 1904-1972]

Mid-shift food
"A Tale of the 2 slices"
Young lad started down the pit. His mother put his bait up consisting of 2 slices of bread and jam. When he finished his work and came home his mother asked him how he had enjoyed his work. He said alright, but he wanted more bait. So she put 4 slices in the next day. She asked him if he had plenty when he returned homem but he said he could eat more, so she cut a loaf of bread into two and put it up for him.
On returning home she asked if he enjoyed his work and was his bait alright.
The lad replied yes his work was alright but I see you have gone back to the 2 slices.

Beetle (or Tugger)
Small horse-power hauler either electric of compressed air drven.
Can easily be transported and fixed up in very short time. Usually about 5 to 8 horsepower.

An extra large roller used on haulage roadways to guide rope around curves.

Bogey (or Tram)
Used for transporting lengths of long materials into mine working places.

Used for safety in withdrawing timber from old workings.
To enable drawer to keep a safe distance back: 6 ft or more long

Roof structure for stopping runaway tubs.
Reverse to monkey but has to be dropped by lever or hand.

Caadron-arse (Cauldron-arse)
A stone found in roof just above coal level. It is foreign to the normal roof strata and in all cases dangerous to leave without either supporting it with timber or removing it from the roof. Owing to it having a very smooth surface and having small coal piping around, it easily detaches itself from the roof. Cone shaped.

Cat head
A hard stone similar to a pebble, mostly in the strata forming the floor of the mine. Mostly ironstone in nature

Section of roof taken down, or section of floor taken up, to make height to travel along.

Method used to give workmen lots for work places. Names and work places drawn for by lot.

To turn over a tub or machine part.

Defines anything empty e.g. a tub

Chummins, chummings
Often wrote as plural for chum, when referring to a load of empty tubs.

Clarts, clarty
Describes working in mud, or muddy conditions.
'Up to the neck in darts': an expression used when men are working in wet, muddy conditions.

Term used for describing the coal texture and how it is facing the worker.

Going with the cleat: this is for the workplace to be running the same direction as it.

Against the cleat: meaning meeting the coal with the cleat running across the working face.

Rear box and roller at tail end of a longwall face around which the conveyor belt makes its return run.

Used to hang tubs on to endless haulage ropes.

collar pulls tighter as rope hauls tubs along.

Cotterill or Cotter-pin
Inserted in slot to fasten on part of certain types of equipment used


Strong iron or steel bar attached to last tub, which trails behind in case tubs break away from #ld.

Axle cow
shorter type hooks on to tub axle

Used in a mine shaft when cages are out of action, owing to an accident. Used to enable someone to be lowered to point of stoppage in the shaft. Used in sinking of shafts before cages are installed.

SEE Pusher

A fixture on outside of tub-lines, to put tubs back onto rails when they have become derailed.
An outside rail curved at each end sits on bed of concrete to guide tubs back onto rails.

A working roadway which leads downhill

An area at bottom of shaft where the empty tubs are collected after being sent down the pit, and got ready to send inbye.

Used in expression that a job of work is easy to do.
When asked to do a job of work likely reply was "Right you are, its a doddle."

Self-acting incline.
These are worked by full tubs descending hauling up the empty tubs.

Used to attach haulage rope to #lad of tubs.
Easy to unloose from tub chain when required.

Drilling monkey
Used by old-time miners as a drilling stand when fixed on a wood prop. For use with a worm and drill.

Fettle, Fettled
Will you fettle this for me, meaning will you repair this for me.
Have you fettled that for me, meaning have you repaired that for me.

Flat or pass-by
Where pony transporters of tubs meet and change their loads over to each other.

Describes the pony.

Get #set
The number of tubs any pony shall be allowed to pull.

Occurs on haulage rope when one or more strands of wire are broken and they get fast at some point on roadway. The strands keep coilinq or rolling along the running rope forming a mass of uncoiled strands around the rope. These have to be cut off and the ends of the loose strands of wire kn1tted back into the rope.

One who produces coal by hand picking tools.

The landing place at the shaft bottom for the full tubs, when they are transported outbye to the shaft area.

Box or large wood chest which has lid and locks. Used for keeping any special tools in, also report and time books for all accounts of work in a district of the mine.
Always placed at a meeting station where the deputy places workmen to their daily jobs.

Where the main set of tubs arrive from the shaft.

or portable shafts.
Used for putting pony in to hang on to tubs to enable pony to pull them.

Loose or Kennah
Defines end of shift of work.

Flame oil lamp [Midgy elsewhere: FA]

When workmen form a group to work together either in the same working place, or to follow in different shifts on the same class of work, also all sharing in wages worked for.
These men term each other as their marrow when working in the same shift together.
They term the men following them at the same work in the next shift their cross-marrows.

Device fixed between railway to hold tubs on heavy gradient.
Weight on rear to keep the front end up, so it holds on to axle of tub.

Drilling monkey...

Pusher or Creeper
Mechanical device for moving tubs along slowly.
Fixed in floor between the rails and runs under tubs, horns catching on axles of tubs.

Person who transports tubs to the coal-face from a flat or pass-by. Sometimes by hand or pony.

A number of tubs the manager decides shall be hauled by any electric or compressed driven hauler.

Describes pick shaft or hammer shaft.

Used to transport lengthy materials along roadways where no railway exists.
8uch as pipes etc which are slotted through between wheels and hung on to crook at end of rod.

Type of steel arch-girder normally with an almost flat top.

Device for hauling any object which requires extra heavy pulling.
Consists of comb bar, handle with box attached. Chain attached to comb bar, also one long loose chain with crook attached to one end.

Hemp rope tarred for use in wet conditions.

'Just the right timmer', meaning just the right size.

Leather or tin discs on cord which were attached to a hook inside the tubs of coal, to identify the producer of the coal.
Each disc had identifying letter or number.

A type of hammer used by man laying railway in the pit.
Head 1 ft long with chisel and hammer ends; shaft 2 feet long.

To carry, pull or haul your limit load.
'You've got your whack there' meaning you have got as much to carry or haul as you can manage.

Used in early drilling methods. A long threaded steel bar about 10 threads to the inch, which when fixed in a suitable stand, screwed the drill forward to make a shot-hole.
Short handle fixed on outer end, to turn the worm.

Pit-yakka: one who works underground

To attach a pony to his limbers, which the pony carried along with him.

Young lad
started work, his first day down the pit had not been to his liking. On arriving home his mother put his dinner ready for him, but he just sat in the corner with his head in his hands. His mother asked him what was the matter and did his work not suit him, and the reply she got was: "NO". I wished I was 65.

NOTES by Geordie McBurnie, Deputy at Glebe Colliery. Died Washington Street 1979.
Member of Mine Rescue Team. Never lost a canary: revived birds with mouth: 1924 onwards.
Notes made by him while learning to write again after a stroke in 1968.
No lamp was numbered 13
Brass on lamp gives status: Max = Manager; Min = miner