The Pendlebury Miners' Token.
Those collectors of mining badges who are familiar with the late John Hammond's work "Trade Union Badges - A Collector's Guide" may at one time have noticed two similar entries under the listings for early miner's association checks/badges struck in the name of the "PENDLEBURY MINERS". In the last (1995) edition of John's Guide such entries appear on pages 6 and 8 of the section dealing with Mining and Quarrying badges. The entries are listed as follows;
Lancashire & Cheshire Miner's Federation (1897-1945) - Pendlebury Miners; round (no metal or size stated) depicting a lamp with crossed pick and shovel.
Pendlebury Miners - round; copper; depicting a miner's lamp with crossed pick and shovel.
I believe that both the entries above are in fact for a single type of badge/token. It is likely that John never actually saw this piece for himself but instead had it reported to him, with varying degrees of accuracy, by different collectors. The fact that John had at times to rely on some very sketchy second hand descriptions when compiling his listing of miner's association pieces is no secret. What is more I now believe that the piece in question was probably not an early miners association badge/check at all but in fact a much later twentieth century token.
During recent communications with a Mr. Geoff Kirkham I received some very interesting information concerning a group of tokens which had once been in his possession. Interestingly one of the types of token which Geoff recalled exactly fitted the general description as quoted above from John Hammond's Third Edition Badge Guide.
Geoff had been employed as an electrician at Agecroft Colliery in Pendlebury, Greater Manchester between 1964 and 1990. During his time at the pit he recalls how two types of token were used as free beer vouchers at N.U.M. Branch meetings. These meetings usually took place in the Pendlebury Miners Welfare Club (now demolished) in Swinton on Sunday mornings between 11:00 o'clock and mid day, just prior to the bar opening. At the start of every meeting a union official would hand each attendee 3 tokens each of which could be exchanged at the club bar for a pint of beer. The tokens were only valid for use immediately after the union meetings. However, if not used they could be carried over until the occasion of the next Branch meeting which were usually monthly. The tokens acted as an excellent incentive for the miners to attend the union meetings. It is presumed that the beer tokens were collected from the miner's club by an appointed N.U.M. representative sometime after each meeting. At this time the union funds would no doubt be called on to redeem the club for the equivalent number of pints of beer consumed.
Obverse of a Type "A" - N.U.M. Agecroft Branch beer token. Once used at the Pendlebury Miners' Welfare Club in Swinton, Greater Manchester.
Descriptions of the two types of N.U.M. beer tokens used at the Pendlebury Miners' Welfare Club are given below;
Type "A" - Round, 25 mm diameter, brass, uniface. Obverse design depicts a bonneted flame safety lamp behind which is a crossed pick and shovel. A legend on two scrolls below reads PENDLEBURY / MINERS .
Type "B" - Round, 24 mm diameter, copper blank disc. Obverse stamped with up to a three figure identification number.
Although I can't be certain that the above type of beer token is one and the same type as the PENDLEBURY MINERS pieces briefly listed in John Hammond's Badge Guide I believe there is a strong case to say that they are. However, there is one further possibility. Maybe there are much earlier miners association badges/checks on which the design of the much later N.U.M beer tokens were based. Only time will tell. One thing that we can be fairly confident of is that as official N.U.M. issued beer vouchers the PENDLEBURY MINERS tokens are unique. They were issued directly by the mining union and could be used only during the period immediate after one of the union's branch meetings. Given this they should not be confused in any way with just "run of the mill" working men's club beer tokens which are already well documented within the field of British paranumismatics.
Acknowledgements & References:
I would like to thank Geoff Kirkham for his invaluable help regarding the identification and interpretation of use of the PENDLEBURY MINERS beer tokens.
Trade Union Badges - A Collector's Guide. Third Edition 1995. John Hammond. Private Publication.
Based on an article in NMMA Newsletter No.26, Spring 2002. © Mark Smith.