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Leisure time

Leisure Time

Most miners were quite young… 14,16,17… when they started working within the mines. What we had in mind in our free time? This is simple: soccer, women, music, and a bit of alcohol.

R. Adam
Former coal mine electrician in the western region of Germany, close to the city Bochum

Miners enjoying a cold beer after the shift


Today people emphasize the importance of a healthy work-life-balance. Certainly, this was not the case for mine workers who experienced long work days. When their shifts finished, and although they did not have a lot of leisure time, miners took part in the culture that developed within mining communities.

A mining company celebrating together



Smoking and cigarettes were booming in the 1950s and 1960s. It is no surprise that smoking was also part of mining culture, but not within the mines. There, smoking was strictly prohibited for safety reasons. Because of this, snuff tobacco was used instead.

Pöschl snuff tobacco

“…It is insane when thinking about how much grams of this snuff tobacco we took on the mine floor.” – This is a quote from a former Dutch miner.

As this quote indicates, seeing a miner sniffing some snuff tobacco was a common scene within the mines. Moreover, snuff tobacco was especially handy, since usual cigarettes were strictly forbidden within the mines, due to explosion danger. Therefore, these smoke-free tobacco products, which were sniffed as a pulver from the back of the hand, were quite popular among miners.

The name of the brand is printed on the bottle: Pöschl Schmalzer. What is behind this name? The German brand Pöschl Tabak GmbH was founded in 1902 and is worldwide the largest snuff tobacco company. Its products, bottles, and equipment are quite often in German and Dutch mining museums to be found, due to their uniqueness and their historical value.

Schmalzer is a Bavarian specialty that is originally made of brasil tobaccos.

Explore 3D model: You can click on this 3D Model and examine it from different angles.

3D model created by Laura Plum

Dancing, Drinking and Celebrating – but within the Class Divide

“It was our time. There existed many dance clubs” – M. Volmerig, former miner at the Zeche Matthias in the German city Essen


After their shift, miners liked to drink together in the bars and pubs. Yet, the class divide was evident again. While the miners were going to the patronat, to have parties and to meet each other, the supervisors would go to the casino.

It was a way to make sure that everyone knew about where everyone should be, in what place.

Simone Claessens
The curator of the Nederlands Mijnmuseum

Ontdek meer op de website van het Nederlands Mijnmuseum.

Hebt U vragen over het museum, deze website, over het project van de Universiteit van Maastricht of een andere vraag, stuur dan even een bericht.