The Legend O’ Davy ‘Hinny Man’ Lamp.

Let me, if you don’t mind, give you a little history lesson for the day.

The little tale is centred around the coal mining industry of the UK over the last 150 or so years. In its heyday, coal mining employed a great many men. These brave souls were able to feed and house their families on the rewards of what was and still is, a dangerous industry to work in [see Chile’s recent events].

Most miners had little by way of possessions. They existed on beer, fatty meats and ‘butties’. A butty, is another name for  a sandwich. The miners, could not afford expensive fillings for their ‘butties’. Cheese, between two doorstop slices of bread was about as much as they could afford. The only problem with that was, unlike today, where most foods have additives and preservatives to extend their shelf life, the cheese would go mouldy in the conditions down the pit [coal mine]. I am not sure how the cure for this problem came about, but you can bet ya arse it was a northern fella who discovered it.

You see, what they did was to add jam [preserve] to the butties, and this prevented the cheese from going mouldy. So the fare of the day became cheese and jam butties. For those of you who have not tried this delectable delight, I urge you to do so as its a great concoction. I prefer a mature cheese, Cheddar, Red Leicester, Derby, with strawberry jam. I can eat them by the plateful.

If you visit Magpie Tales, you will see this weeks picture prompt is ‘Lunch’ by George Tooker. Over at dVerse this passing weekend, their prompt was comic book heroes.

So me being me and one who enjoys a challenge, I set about thinking of how to combine the two prompts. I think I just about managed it, in a roundabout way. See what you think.

The Hinny Man

We a’al knew of wor Davy,
The la’ad who invented the lamp,
He took away wor candle lights,
Deciding they needed a revamp.

Now wor Davy was a canny kind,
He luked aft’a all of the hinnies,
It wasn’t fa the love of it,
It earnt him the extra guinea’s!

Davy went off ta woork each morn,
Wi’ a smile and a bag o’ scran,
We a’al knew him by his other name,
We ca,aled him the Hinny Man.

One day when Davy wa’ doon the heed,
There came a mighty crash,
It sounded like a cacuffle,
Of pit men oot on the lash.

The backrippers had just secured the heed,
And gone off doon ta’ pub,
The night shift had just clocked on,
On wa’ sittin having the’er grub.

Davy ha’ his usual fare,
Butties wi’ cheese and jam,
They wa’ waiting fa’ the hinnies ta’ cum,
When the heed came doon wi’ a slam.

The roof was caving in a them,
Until Davy appeared on the heed,
He had to protect his hinnies,
An’ ya can bet he would succede.

Wor kid took tha’ weight o, tha woorld,
Upon his shoulda’s tha’ day,
Until they got the hinnies oot,
Tha’s where he was gannin ta’ stay.

He held tha’ roof for many an hoor,
Until all men and hinnies wa’ oot,
He showed the courage a hero ya see,
Of tha’ there were na doot.

Wi’ lamp an butties, young Davy walked oot,
A hero ta’ man, boy an beast,
Wi’ a crate o’ beer, they a’al sat doon,
Ta’ enjoy a cheese and jam feast!

There’s words here you wont know.So I shall try to cover what I can.

A Hinny was a donkey, kept down the mine 24 hours a day to move the coal buckets to and from the head.

The Head is the bottom of the mine shaft.

A Backripper‘s job was to make sure the roof was adequatelty supported using timbers. These days they use steel.

Davy Lamp is the name of a lamp invented for miners bySir Humphry Davy.

A guinea is an old unit of English currency.

Scran is another word for food.

Oot on tha’ lash means out for a good drink of beer.

All miners clocked in and out for two reasons, pay, and safety.

Cafuffle, old word for fight.

Wor kid, meant brother usually, or good friend. Wor being our.

Grub, another word for food.

I think that about covers it. Any problems reading it or wondering what any words mean, please leave a comment and I shall try to answer.

This is what you get when you take a figure of history, a song [see if you can guess which one] two prompts and a Geordie accent, throw them in the bowl and mix for a few minutes!


20 responses to “The Legend O’ Davy ‘Hinny Man’ Lamp.

  • Helen

    Nary a question … many kudos!!

  • The Noiseless Cuckooclock

    story about Davy?

    long notes to explain, what patience.

    I wonder how this relates to the magpie image prompt?

    lovely writing.

    • Tino

      The Magpie prompt was Lunch. I make mention of what coal miners used to have for lunch when they were working below ground. Most coal mines operated a 3 shift system, so some men would be eating their lunch at 2 am if they were on night shift. So that is the part where Ihope to have satisfied the Lunch prompt 😉

      Davy Lamp was not a real character, just a name made up by me to satisfy the ‘comic book hero’ prompt from another blog. The Davy Lamp does exist, its a safety light used underground where pockets of gas often exploded when candles were in use.

      So I tired to combine the two and kill two birds with one stone [lazy way out].

  • claudia

    smiles…love the dialect writing tino..a heluva charming story telling..enjoyed it..

  • brian miller

    holy cow man…nicely done…love the play on dialect…and wonderful story telling within…davy’z a hero

  • Bob

    Wow this is great, reminds me of Robert Burns but has a life all it’s own, a great tribute to those fearless miners.

  • Sharp Little Pencil

    This vernacular fascinated me. Wasn’t sure if the hinnies were indeed mules of perhaps “honeys,” but figured they wouldn’t want women in the mine! (wink) Bad luck, anyway…

    I can’t tell you how much I loved this poem. I read them all aloud and it reminded me of poems my dad used to read me. He always messed up the accent, but never mind. It’s a rare “da” who will teach his daughter the gift of words… Bless you! Amy

    • Tino

      I am a fully fledged granda’ now 😉 I love dialects, but the Northumbrians have a unique one. If you go 10 miles down the road, you still get the lilt of Geordie, but then it becomes another language completely.

      I am glad you enjoyed reading it and it bought back some happy memories.

  • Lindy Lee

    You make me think of Robert Burns, too, but this one seems to be all your own creative ability rolled up in an endearing dialect. All you, that is, as best I can assess, as I have only just tipped the iceberg of your blog site. Nice work, enjoyable reading…

    • Tino

      All my own work, I never post anything that is not my own, unless there’s good cause and then I make reference to the person it belongs too. A couple of links help to explain phrases and people.

      Burns of course was Scottish, but often, phrases and words pop up in both languages. In Northumberland, words like ball become ba’al, like the baa of a sheep, and that also tends to exist in Scotland as well, just the dialect itself is different.

  • Poets Rally

    notice that you won the perfect poet award for poets rally week 57, welcome take it,

    join us any time when you are free.

    outstanding poetry along the way, truly enjoyed your lasting support.

    keep rocking.


    • Tino

      Thanks, but I already have one on my page from your blog and that was greatly appreciated. Its not what I really write for though. So on this occasion, its thanks an all that, it is appreciated, but showing one is plenty I think.

  • Tino

    Did anyone manage to think which song was included in this?

  • brian miller

    just wanted to let you know i thought of you yesterday…a t shirt bassed me with your butts on it and yep you popped into my head….the butts above in case you were wondering…

  • hedgewitch

    Loved the history and the great work in dialect, always difficult to pull off, but you made it all seem very natural and easy. Thanks for the notes at the end because I was thinking a hinny was maybe another word for a honey, of the female persuasion, and puzzling over why they were down in the mines distracting the boys. ;_) Enjoyed this very much.

    • Tino

      Hinny is a great word. Sadly, there are no coal mines left in this region and so all the hinnies have left. Instead, in some old mining comminities, hinnie has become a word of affection. There is hinny, hen, pet, all endearing phrases in Northumberland. So you weren’t that far out.

  • Berowne

    Fascinating language lesson, and I mean that sincerely.

    • Tino

      The language in the North East is fascinating. Local dialects change every few miles and some are still very difficult to understand when you first hear them. Only 60 miles or less from the Scottish border, there are words related to old pict tribes who lived north of the border. There is the old mining language of the ‘pit yackers’ the Mackems and sand dancers drawl is unique to the area. The old fishing communities along the coast have the most diverse dialeacts where no two villages speak the same.
      I could spout on all day about the subject, but thanks for your kind comment.

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