Washington County Durham

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Memories of  The Quarrymen

Rowleyhill  &  Springwell


ROWLEYHILL QUARRYMEN, 1898

 

SPRINGWELL QUARRYMEN, c.1925/29

 

Map: Springwell Quarry & 'The Rowley'

OS 6-inch Map: 1888-1913

PITCH & TOSS

It's a well known fact (My dad told me!) that Springwell Quarry regularly hosted sessions of the illegal gambling game, Pitch & Toss. The police would raid the site and haul the miscreants before the magistrates who handed out increasing fines for each subsequent appearance. Persistent offenders could find themselves in jail for up to a month. Therefore lookouts were positioned, to keep an eye out for 'the poliss', before games began.

The rules of the game varied slightly from place to place but the basic game involve one player, the Chucker, placing two old pennies on two spread fingers, and throwing them in the air. Although side-bets were undoubtedly being placed, most players were betting against the Chucker. There were four possible outcomes from the falling pennies:

2 Heads - the Chucker wins, (alternatively, those betting on Heads win).
2 Tails - the Chucker loses, (alternatively, those betting on Tails win.
1 Head & 1 Tail - no one wins, but the stakes ride for the next throw.
1 Tail & 1 Head - no one wins, but the stakes ride for the next throw.

The Chucker was selected by each candidate throwing a penny at a chosen marker on the ground, nearest to the marker got the job. If no one wanted to be the Chucker, a person not taking part in the gambling was given the task, and players bet on either Heads or Tails.