Durham & Tyneside Dialect Group / Word Lists / Peter Kendal

Peter Kendal - Bishop Auckland mid 20th century

Most of the words and points are recalled from my boyhood in the 1940's and 50's in the Bishop Auckland area. I also had other influences:- (a) my Dad's family came from the Hetton-Le-Hole area, (b) My wife came from the Rainton and Langley Moor areas, (c) My father-in-law came originally from the Consett area, (d) My sister-in-law married into a family from the Sunderland area, (e) My mother came from the Bridlington area.

An' all – As well.
Bait (North-East) but Scottish – Piece; Yorkshire – Snap. (This also goes down into the Midlands.).
Black damp – Mining gas with a suffocating effect.
Black lung – Miners' lung disease, usually Pneumosilicosis or Pneumoconiosis.
Blacking factory – Pit with a very small coal output, or a very small pit.
Blonk – The base in a game of hide and seek from which the seeker starts out. When a hider eludes the seeker and returns to the base he shouts “Blonk!”.
Boody – Small change money.
Bord – Road, particularly a road down a pit. There is also the somewhat unpleasant “shite bord” which is an underground road designated for a special use. This was usually an old disused road in the return air system so that others were not affected by the smell. Just as an aside it is noted that if a miner was eating an orange the juice smell could travel for a long way and set the mouth watering of anyone in its path!
Braffen head – A stupid person, a dimwit.
Bringins up – cf. Browt up.
Broth – This is more likely to mean a soup to me than a stew.
Duckmeat – the rubbish that gathers in the corners of the eyes on waking in a morning. Applies to both humans and animalsFyeul – fool.
Hap up – a heavy-lying snowfall, particularly a great depth of snow.
Hidney – another name for Hide and Seek.
Howld – (a) hold, (b) holed.
Humpty-backed – Having a humped back.
Meun – Moon.
Muggles - From playing marbles (we called them muggles) there are "blings" and"tappys".

"Blings" was usually said as a claim to perform the action of having one's own muggle right up close to your opponent's and firing it so that your opponent's muggle goes a good distance away while your's goes a much smaller distance, (ideally it stays in the same position.).
"Tappys" was the same thing only with the object of there being a definite space between your muggle and the opposing muggle when you fired your's. There was also more of an intention to direct the opposing muggle in a specific direction and/or distance.
Netty – Refers to any lavvy, inside or outside.
Noled – Held down or held back. Severely restricted.
Oit – than Hoit.
Pit heap – The main pile of waste stone and similar refuse for the pit.
Swapy – Curved, bow-legged.
Tackets – Boot nails to take the hard wear.
Therecklies – Plural form.
Twilt – To deliver a light blow or flick.
Vernigh – than Varnigh.
Warwick was the name of an extra strong support or pushing beam used in a pit for various purposes. Occasionally it had the same meaning as "fullick" – a strong blow.
Wheesht' would usually be sounded with a long 'ee' sound rather than the shorter 'i' sound of 'whisht'.
Winderman – The man in charge of raising, lowering, and controlling the cage at the pit. (A surface job.).
Winnet – Faeces that one is having a problem in getting rid of.
Yelly – Yellow.


1.At Tursdale colliery (mid-Durham) there was an igneous rock intrusion (the Whin Sill) through the underground road for many yards at one place. The quality of this igneous rock meant that there was no need to support the roof against falling. Apart from a few roof bolts there were no timbers or steel roof supports. Many people (including me!) were never really happy under that roof, but many others used (and believed in) the common (and rather fatalistic) saying "It'll not fall. There's nowt to stop it.". Incidentally the road through this intrusion led to a district well-known for being the worst in that pit for a bad roof, wet workings, and twisted seams. Naturally this district was known as "Paradise"!.

2. If somebody was late their frequent excuse was that they had "slept the caller". I can remember the colliery house with a slate by the front door on which would be chalked the time that the occupant was to be woken for his shift start by the caller armed with his pole to rap on the upstairs bedroom window as a wake-up call.

3. In Bishop Auckland we would never have said "Our Mam". It was definitely "Me Mam" or "Me Dad". or perhaps "Me Da".

4. "Mak's nee hoy" – 'It makes no difference' or 'It does not matter'.  .

5. “Aa've seen more life in me shirt.” - My father-in-law commenting on somebody. I think this came from his days as an infantry corporal in the trenches in WW1. Expressing amazement or disbelief – “Aa'll eat hay with the cuddy.”.

6. Expressing doubts or lack of belief in a person's knowledge – “He doesn't know shite from clay.”. I believe this came from the pit when a new worker would be given material to tamp an explosive charge. Normally a lump of clay would be used but a new lad or one of limited intelligence would be given a lump of feces to do the job with!

7. Exclamation of surprise or exasperation – “Ye boys o' Hetton!”.

8. Twichbell - Description of how to make a peashooter. I can remember picking a dry cow parsley stalk thinking that I wouldn't have to clean the inside pith out to use it. That was fine until I blew it and several twitchbells shot out of it. I dropped it hurriedly, spat several times to clear my mouth out, and never used a peashooter again!

9. Metantatipi - One lad put down “Metantatipi” which baffled his non-Geordie teacher. When asked what he meant the lad said, “Why sorr it's Meat and Tatie Pie!”.