An unusual Canteen Token from Pegswood Colliery, Northumberland.

The token above was recently brought to my attention by a fellow collector. It originated from a large hoard of cast aluminium and zinc tokens from County Durham. Most of these were examples of plain North East style tub tokens although there was an isolated example of a generic NCB lamp token plus the above canteen token. All were part of a long since forgotten manufacturer’s (J. Richardson & Son) remaindered stock that was discovered during a house clearance in the village of Whitton Park in 2004. The tokens represented a wide range of the different types that were manufactured by the company’s last proprietor, Wilfred Richardson, between the late 1930s and 1950s or possibly a little later. Wilfred managed the business, like his farther John before him, as a small cottage industry from a small workshop at the rear of his home.

The token, which measures 39 mm diameter by 4 mm thick, was obviously made with the intention of being used in some way in the pithead canteen at Pegswood Colliery near Ashington, Northumberland. This is clear from its outer legend, which reads PEGSWOOD CANTEEN. This pit closed in 1968 and in its final year of operation employed 715 men and extracted coal from the Low Main, Yard, Plessey, Bensham and Busty seams.

An early twentieth century postcard image of Pegswood Colliery, Northumberland.

It is difficult to tell if the token’s outer legend is die stamped or incusely cast into its border as was common on many of this manufacturer’s earliest known tub tokens. The inner legend is arranged in four lines of bold raised lettering that reads MAY / AUG / NOV / FEB. This list obviously represents abbreviated month names arranged in a sequence of quarterly year intervals.

Whether this canteen token was one of an issued series or not is unknown. Certainly it plus the earlier mentioned lamp tokens produced by J. Richardson & Son are unlike anything anyone has ever seen before. It is possible that both these token types represent sales prototypes that were not received well by the N.C.B. and hence never went into large scale production. However, it is unlikely that such an odd canteen token design would have been made if it weren’t to for fill the requested requirements of a specific order.

I suspect that the Pegswood canteen tokens date from the 1940’s to 1950s and in all probability were made for the N.C.B. How they were used within the pit canteen and what the significance may have been with regards to the stated quarterly intervals is unknown to me.

I would be grateful to any ex-Pegswood Colliery employees or residents who can help me solve any of the mysteries associated with the above tokens and their precise method of use.

Submitted By : Mark Smith.
Date: December 2005.

I can't shed much light onto the use of this particular type of token but I well remember playing with these things in the 50's. As children we used them as a form of play money. I had quite a lot of them so they they couldn't have been worth much.

Pegswood pit canteen was quite a small place and only supplied meals for a few of the workers. The majority pf the men took their own "bait" or went home for their meals. It may be that these tokens were used for buying small things such as soap. I know towels were also purchased but I think they were bought for money. I also I remember buying ice cream from Pegswood pit canteen, but again, this was purchased with coin of the realm and not tokens.

Submitted By: Robert Dixon
( htt:// )
Date: May 2006


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