treacle mines


treacle mines
   In many parts of England certain small villages are jokingly said to have a secret treacle mine on their territory. 20th-century examples have been reported from Cumbria, Devon, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Norfolk, Surrey, Sussex, and Wiltshire; no doubt there are others too. Similar jokes are made about porridge or toothpaste quarries, snuff mills and jam mines, but they are less widespread and far less elaborate.
   Basically, the joke is about impossibility - treacle is not found in mines, any more than money on trees - but it can work on many levels. Sometimes it is a taunt, implying that the people of X are such fools that they go digging for treacle, or too lazy to do honest work, or so poor they live only on bread and treacle; sometimes it is a hoax, in which a child or a newcomer is gulled or bewildered; sometimes a put-off from mother to child ('Don't bother me now, I'm off to the treacle mine'); sometimes an emblem of local identity, proudly used in the name of a pub or a sports team, or as a tourist attraction.
   The treacle mine is a theme on which poker-faced humorists play elaborate variations, the aim being to produce some plausible explanation of what and where it is, weaving in as many local allusions as possible. Perhaps the treacle comes from an abandoned dump of army food dating from the Crimean War (Chobham, Surrey); or by the geological compression of ancient sugar-cane forests (Dunchidoek, Devon); or it is waste oil from an American airbase (Tadley, Hampshire). The machinery for extracting it, and the docks from which it is exported, are lovingly described (Corpusty and Fring, Norfolk); one mine employs *boggarts (Sabden, Lancashire).
   ■ Simpson, 1982; FLS News 18 (1993), 7-8; 19 (1994), 5-6; 20 (1994), 4-6; 21 (1995), 11-12; 25 (1997), 12-13.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Treacle mining — is the (fictitious) mining of treacle (similar to molasses) in a raw form similar to coal. The subject purports to be a serious topic but is in fact an attempt to test the credulity of the reader. The thick black nature of treacle makes the… …   Wikipedia

  • The Treacle People — was a children s television programme shown on CITV in the United Kingdom, in 1995. It only ever had two series, each with 13 episodes. The programme was short lived due to a lack of viewers. In a similar vein to other shows by the same writer,… …   Wikipedia

  • Tadley — infobox UK place country = England official name= Tadley latitude= 51.3506 longitude= 1.1376 civil parish= Tadley population = 11,651 (Civil Parish, 2001) shire district= Basingstoke and Deane shire county= Hampshire region= South East England… …   Wikipedia

  • Natland — Not to be confused with Nattland. Coordinates: 54°17′46″N 2°44′13″W / 54.296°N 2.737°W / 54.296; 2.737 …   Wikipedia

  • Chobham, Surrey — Coordinates: 51°20′53″N 0°36′14″W / 51.3481°N 0.6038°W / 51.3481; 0.6038 …   Wikipedia

  • Frittenden — infobox UK place country = England static static image caption=Street Farm Oast, Frittenden official name= Frittenden latitude=51.141430 longitude= 0.593460 population = shire district= Tunbridge Wells shire county = Kent region= South East… …   Wikipedia

  • Sompting — infobox UK place| country = England official name= Sompting os grid reference= TQ170047 latitude= 50.8303longitude= 0.3395|population = 8,514 (2001 census) shire district= Adur region= South East England shire county = West Sussex constituency… …   Wikipedia

  • Obelisk — For other uses, see Obelisk (disambiguation). One of the two Luxor obelisks in the Place de la Concorde in Paris An obelisk (from Greek ὀβελίσκος obeliskos,[1] diminutive of …   Wikipedia

  • Chalvey — Coordinates: 51°30′24″N 0°36′37″W / 51.5066°N 0.6102°W / 51.5066; 0.6102 …   Wikipedia

  • David Waddington, Baron Waddington — The Right Honourable The Lord Waddington GCVO DL QC PC Governor of Bermuda In office 11 April 1992 – 2 May 1997 Premier John Swan David Saul …   Wikipedia