Mystery Tokens Found In Fields Around Dean & Chapter Colliery, Co. Durham.

Recently I acquired a very large and heavy white metal token from a friend of mine who had metal detected it, plus several others similar, from a field adjacent to the old site of Dean & Chapter Colliery at Ferryhill in County Durham. 


One of several mystery "WB & CO" tokens found in a field immediately adjacent to the once site of Dean & Chapter  Colliery. Actual size 39.5 mm dia. 

The token bears an embossed legend, "WB & CO" above and below a large embossed number "330" in its centre. Although not typical in terms of size and shape this token is very much in the style of a north-eastern Putters and Hewers token. Such tokens were referred to as tub checks or motties in several British coalfields but were different in style and appearance to the very unique looking ones used in Durham and Northumberland.

Although I feel sure this token is from the once adjacent pit of Dean & Chapter and was probably a putters or hewers tub identification token I am puzzles as to how to interpret its legend - "WB & CO".  What do these initials stand for? If the token was a putters or hewers token you would expect the legend on it to normally refer to either the name of the coal company and/or colliery who had issued it or to a seam or shaft name at the pit of use. Dean & Chapter Colliery was sunk in 1904 by its first owners Bolckow,  Vaughan & Company (BV & Co). In 1929 the pit, along with all of BV & Co's other holdings, passed into the hands of Dorman Long & Company Limited. The latter company operated the mine until its nationalisation in 1947. Given this information what could WB & CO stand for? There doesn't appear to be any connection between Dean & Chapter Colliery and any other company with these initials. The other  thing that is confusing is the that there are already two very well known types of putters and hewers tokens recorded for Dean & Chapter Colliery. So if these most recently discovered tokens also served a similar purpose at the same pit how do they fit in with the others known and where do they belong in the token issuing chronology for this pit?

Dean & Chapter  Colliery Tub Identification Tokens. Left: Hewer's Token (actual size 39.5 mm by 23.5 mm). Right: Putter's Token (actual size 32.5 mm by   20.5 mm). 

If anyone can throw any light on the "WB & CO" tokens from Dean & Chapter Colliery I would very much like to hear from them.

Submitted By : Bob Bowerbank.
Date: November 2003

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