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Drinking Vessel Names. Piggin Whistle or the Pig and Whistle?

Over the years, we've gathered many stories and pieces of knowledge about drinking vessels from all kinds of sources and we have always wondered what to do with this information.

After all we find this interesting (for obvious reasons) but would anybody else?

This blog seems to be a good way to bring all these bits and pieces of information together for anyone who may be interested.

So, let's start with the Piggin Whistle.

Leather drinking vessels enjoyed many different names in various parts of the country but this is one we find particularly amusing.  In the West Midlands, they were known colloquially as Piggins.  They were often used in iron foundries where the constant heat lead to a regular need to drink.  Ale was not allowed for safety reasons but a water boy was always around with a large jug of water.  The foundry workers used to hang their leather tankards from their belts and, when a drink was needed, they called the water boy by blowing a whistle set in to the underside of the handle.

These drinking vessels became known as a Piggin Whistle which resulted in the then common name for a pub as the “Pig and Whistle”.

It always amazes us how much of the social history of the UK we have learned, just from making leather drinking vessels.  Perhaps, on reflection, it is not surprising because socialising is often enjoyed at the same time as a drink and, in days gone by, an alcoholic drink was far safer than drinking the, not very clean, water of the times.