Colliery Canteens

Colliery Canteens.
The idea of a colliery canteen was first raised in the “National Food Journal” in October 1918. The headline was “Details of South Wales Scheme”, pithead restaurants. The suggestion was made by Mr T. C. Jones the director of ships stores. He said there were small eating rooms, restaurants attached to the munition factories and small arms works sort of dining halls where the workers could obtain hot meals and drinks such as tea.

The pithead restaurants would be like a cook-house where the miner could get a meal or have his “tommy box” filled with substantial food prepared by expert cooks. These establishments could be managed by a committee of workmen or a joint committee of owners and workmen. He stated the Ministry of Food could have no direct control over the management but by co-operating with a committee of workmen they could ensure a constant supply of good quality wholesome food.

Mr T. C. Jones suggested the setting up of a co-operative canteens should be built near the colliery’s lamp-room’s, preferred. Freshly cooked rissoles (meat, fish and potatoes) , meat pies, patties, cornish pasties, steak and kidney pies etc can be sold to the workmen as they go to fetch their lamps. There could also be a provision where the miner could leave his tommy box in the canteen along with his name on a tag and staff could fill it with warm food and send it down the pit. It was stated that, with thousands of colliers working at the pits the profits from these canteens could pay handsomely.

To get the project started Mr Jones drew up a procedure of the following – A Joint-Committee of Owners and Men –

1/ A Canteen Committee. 
2/ Arrange for the erection of canteens or use unused present building to convert into a canteen.
3/ The Ministry of Food to get priority for ovens and other cooking appliances.
4/ An outlay, if not forthcoming to be lent by the Ministry of Food.
5/ To only use the nearest local caterers.
6/ The number of canteen staff will depend on the individual colliery workforce.
7/ Cleanliness and business methods should be the foundation of these co-operative cook-shops.A letter was sent to the Right Hon. T. Richards M.P., Miners Federation, Cardiff, also forwarded to Mr Winstone and Mr Clyne. The reply was of the nature that there should be some sort of canteen though it was believed to be a matter for individual collieries. There was a hope that they could be of a permanent nature in the scheme and if he could do anything in the future he would only be too pleased to help.

(More information to come).

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