CANNY CRACK from the


Those on the lookout for early twentieth century humour from the mining communities of Durham and Northumberland will find this page useful and entertaining.  The jokes (all in dialect) comes to you courtesy of the late Laurie Moran who spent many years researching the history of Brandon Colliery in the archived material of the Durham County Advertiser.  Laurie's book received wide acclaim, but these jokes were never published - that is - until now.     


Click on the pdf link above for Jokes 1 - 25


Click on the pdf link above for Jokes 26 - 50


A son of an old miner was to go to Canada to seek fame and fortune on the prairie.  When the time for his going drew near the old man put on his best coat and hat and went to the neighbouring town where the booking office was situated.  He took the ticket but as he was about to leave the place he saw in a glass case a stuffed animal with horns on its head.

What's that animal?" asked the old miner of the clerk.

"Oh!" was the answer, "That's a Canadiam moose."

"Oh!" said the old miner decisively, "Then Aa'll heve me money back.  Aa'll nivvor let any son o' mine gan ter such a place.  If that's a mouse, what will their bloooming rats be like?"  


A driver lad at a local colliery was called before the manager the other day to explain why he had let his pony run away the day before.

"Noo Jackie, whaat wor ye deein' to let the pony run away?" asked the manager.

"Why," was thereply, "one of the hewers at the flat let me see his pay-note, and the powny must hev seen't an aall, for he off strite away."


A very stout old  lady was recently seen alighting from a trap plying to Durham and upon reaching the ground stiffly turned and said to the driver.

"Now mi canny  man, how much is Aa in thee debt?"

and the driver said, "Fivepence missus." 

The old lady paid her fare and was about to pass the horse's head to get to the pavement when the driver shouted,

"Hi missus, dinna gan round that way for goodness sake."

"What for?" inquired the old lady.

"Why," replied the driver, "if my aad horse sees what he's pulled for fivepence he'll drop doon deed."


Two brothers worked for a number of years in a pit not far from Durham, and Jack could always hew 8 tubs of coal to his brother's 4.  At last Jack's strength gave out, and he took a disease and died.

On the day of the funeral, after various relatives had had a last look down at the coffin, Jim stepped to the graveside and, looking down at the coffin, said,

"Ah, Jack, poor lad, thoo's deun with it arl noo.  It's been hight and fower for a long time, but now it's gannen to be fower and nowt."


A boy who played truant from school was followed by his mother (who was rather corpulent).  She carried a big stick.  After a chase of some distance, the boy doubled back home, and got underneath a very low bedstead, and crouched in the corner.  The mother followed, but stuck fast, and had to give up the chase.  The boy remained under the bed, and when his father came home the mother gave him the stick to go and thrash the boy.  When his father appeared in the bedroom and got down on the floor, the boy shouted out, "Hallo, father!  Is she after you too?  Come in!"  At which the father and mother collapsed, and the boy won the day.


A certain miner's wife had a horror of all lottery business, and when Geordie told her the other evening that he had joined a Christmas Club, things were a bit rough that night.  Having stood his wife's tongue for  about an hour, Geordie fired upand said, "Wey, Aa suppose lass, thoo was nivver in a lottery was tha?"  "Only once, Geordie.  Ye knaa, they say marriage is a lottery.  Well, Aa went in for that, an' won a goose." 


A minister recently called on a miner to scold  him for not attending church, and remarked:

"My good man, do you ever think when you lay your head down to sleep that you may be called before morning?"  The man gasped, and then exclaimed,

"Mister, dis thoo knaa we've got twins six weeks ard in wor hoose?"


In one of our local colliery villages a man had just lost his wife.  He had treated her shamefully, but notwithstanding he went to her grave and wept copious tears, saying, "Eh, lass, but Aa dee miss tha!" 

"It's time thoo did," said a woman who was passing, "thoo's hitten her often enough."


An Irishman who had a thick mop of hair was standing in the centre of a crowd of people.  One of the crowd thought he would have a joke at Pat's expense so, giving the others a wink, he said, "Pat, your head is like a haystack."  "Bedad," said Pat, "Oi was just thinking the same when Oi saw so many donkeys standing round."


A young wife remonstrated with her husband, a dissipated spend thrift, on his conduct.  "Love," said he, "I am like the Prodigal Son; I shall reform by and by." 

"I will be like the Prodigal Son, too," she answered, "for I shall arise and go to my father!" 


Visitor: "What lovely furniture!"

Little Tommy: "Yes, I think the man we bought it from is sorry now he sold it - anyhow, he's always calling."


Two miners having got work coal hewing at a colliery started on Monday.  They happened to be working near each other.  On the same morning the overman went into the first man:

"Wee's in here?" he asked.

"A stranger", said Geordie.

The overman said, "Hoo mony hes thoo filled?"

Geordie replied, "This is ma forst un half full."

"Wee's this chap hewing in thy side here?" asked the overman.  Geordie replied, "That's another stranger."

"Hoo monny hed he filled?"

"Nay, he'll hev filled nyen yit; he's just been alang te me seekin a bit coal for the heartburn!" 


Sammy invited two or three to take a drink, and was telling big stories about himself.  "Come," said one of the party, "you have told us what you  can do; now tell us  what you cannot do."

"Well, that's easily done," replied Sammy.  "I can''t pay for the drinks you have just had!"


Vicar: "Yes, I married no less than eighty young people in my last parish."

Aged lady: "Then you ought to be ashamed of yourself. 

After a pause: "You're worse than Solomon."


A man at Brandon had bought an eight day watch, and lost no opportunity of showing it to his mates.  One of them, after a few weeks asked how his watch was going.  "Oh, fine, man," replied the owner of the watch.  "I used to wind it up every Saturday, but that rather long for it, so I wind it up every Friday now."

(66) Good thinking

A teacher giving his class a lesson in history. 

After asking a few questons, he turned to the dunce of the class and said, "Now Johnny, can you tell me in what battle Lord Nelson died? 

"Why, it must have been his last, Sir," was the ready reply.

(67) The Reading Room

In one of the Durham villages, the secretary of the reading-room walked in, and saw that there were some men there who were not members, so he said to them, "There's some of ye in here that isn't in, and ye that isn't in better gan oot!"

(68) Cemetary humour

During the laying out of a  cemetary not far from Durham two miners went out for a walk, and were seen to stop at the entrance to the burial ground. 

One of them was heard to remark, "My word, Geordie, Aa wad like to come here when Aa dee?"

"What for?" inquired Geordie.

"Wey, man, it's such a healthy place, and with a pub just across the road."

(69) Black hens' eggs


Not long ago a miner who lived in Brandon entered a grocer's shop and said to the shopkeeper, "Aa want a shillings worth of black hen's eggs."

"Well, said the grocer, "I don't know a black hen's egg from any other kind."

"Nivver mind," said Geordie; "Aa'll pick 'em mysel."  And he proceeded to do so. 

When he had finished the grocer looked at the selected eggs and said, "The black hens seem to lay all the big eggs."

"Yis", said Geordie with a smiling face; "that's hoo Aa tell 'em."

(70) The Body Shirt

 "Aa say, Geordie, dis thoo hew with thee body shirt on?" 

"Wey, aye, marra.  Ye see it's myed of flannel, and if ye are ivvor see caad and wet ye are alwes warm and dry"!

- ends -

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