Coal on Film
Coalmining is visually unique, dramatic, elemental, iconic - and a huge filmmaking challenge. Small wonder that it's the industry with the richest and deepest screen history of all.
Filming underground, in dark and cramped conditions, is tough, but the rewards are great. Film is a medium of light, and the contrast of beams of miners' lamps against the deep black coalface - catching on a pickaxe or sweating skin - creates powerful visual drama. Then there's the human drama: brave, strong men facing real danger. The towering winding-gear is an enduring symbol not just of one industry, but of all of industrial Britain. The miners and their tight-knit communities, too, have a special place in our national story. These films bear witness to the final century over which King Coal reigned - fueling an economy, a way of life, and divisive political passions. Coal powered news, documentary, fiction and protest. King Coal may now be dead and buried, but on the screen he lives on. This collection is supported by Community Union.
Advert193542 minsSilent Location: Cardiff/Caerdydd
Coal, between the world wars, makes the industrialised world go round and Cory Bros & Co Ltd, with collieries in south Wales and oil refineries across the globe, is a major player.
Elegiac sponsored film imploring viewers to "allow the sun to penetrate the haze of ignorance" and relieve British cities of pollution.
Campaigning film198432 mins
Young Socialists take the lead in the struggle against the "Tory dictatorship" led by Margaret Thatcher.
Drama-documentary197021 mins Location: Rhondda
Valleys boy escapes as architect to London, where he dresses in black, but returns to Clydach Vale - “a heaven and a hell all rolled into one word, spelled C O A L" – dressed in white.
This compendium of colliery tales includes miners enjoying a Butlins holiday, a round of golf at Gleneagles and a visit to a film set.
Industry sponsored film191010 mins
This short profile of mining life from silent film studio Kineto was a key film in the development of British documentary.
Animation & Artists Moving Image198610 mins Location: North Tyneside
An exuberant animated short celebrates writer Sid Chaplins short story about the defiant spirit of an old miner who finds his beloved pigeon loft is under threat.
Cinemagazine197011 mins Location: Caldey Island/Ynys Byr
Ace edition of the series with wintry-but-warm vignettes of coal community life in South Hetton, Woolley Colliery and Caldey Island.
Non-Fiction19311 minsSilent Location: Whitehaven
The aftermath of a devastating explosion at Haig pit in the Whitehaven coal field.
Amateur film193250 mins Location: Doncaster
A Barnsley miner dreams of shooting a film about life down the pits in this audaciously ambitious amateur feature.
Dark shadows in miners' lungs and lives, as the threat of pneumoconiosis is made worse by changes to the benefits that compensate for its effects.
Non-Fiction19263 minsSilent Location: London
Smithfield Market is barricaded and Hyde Park turned into a milk depot, as London tries to cope with the 1926 General Strike.
Cinemagazine196110 mins Location: Spalding
Spalding in Lincolnshire boasts eight million tulips in glorious array, while Eton boys go down a pit in Ayrshire.
196611 mins Location: Castleford
Coal touched all our lives, as this issue of the cinemagazine demonstrates with items on a miner's wife turned mayor, a Coal Board chess team and more.
Non-Fiction19082 minsSilent Location: Wakefield
Infectiously lively film of a Yorkshire mining community's grand day out.
News19644 mins Location: Coleford
Described as the 'coal industry's last bastion of free enterprise', the Forest of Dean's free miners operate outside the National Coal Board and make a living from local coal.
A ‘living museum’ at Beamish rides the waves of interest in industrial heritage in the 1970s. 
Documentary198423 mins Location: Selby
The most advanced deep coal mine in the world opens while those who work it stand by their fellow miners, as the future of both the miners and coal mining is decided on the picket line.
School programme and Educational film194820 mins Location: Builth Wells/Llanfair-Ym-Muallt
The clear waters of the River Wye and the rural areas it flows through offer a stark contrast to the industrialised Rhondda where the River Taff runs black with coal dust.
Industry sponsored film19728 mins
Labour Party leader Harold Wilson speaks to the nation on the coal dispute in response to PM Edward Heath.
News197713 mins Location: Cannock Chase
As the Cannock Chase office of the NUM fills up with the walking wounded from the pit face what future can there be for such a high risk industry?
School programme and Educational film19369 mins
The power behind industrial Scotland is beautifully photographed in these scenes of coalminers and iron ore smelting.
Current affairs19835 mins Location: Snibston
A bleak Christmas for the men of Snibston Colliery as mining in Coalville comes to an end in the last days of 1983.
Current affairs19845 mins Location: Swadlincote
With flying pickets at the colliery entrance the moderate miners of South Derbyshire face the painful decision of whether to cross the picket line.
Sponsored film19767 mins
What do you get when you cross a lifeboat and a coffin? This rescue device helps bring injured miners back to the surface.
193517 minsSilent Location: Dowlais
Potent, precious images of mining communities living through the bitter Depression years.
A walk through any Co-op store reveals some of the delightful gifts that could be yours if you advocate solid fuel heating for the home.
Non-Fiction19011 minsSilent Location: Pendlebury
A black miner makes an intriguing addition to an already captivating film of coal workers up from their pit.
Non-Fiction19001 minsSilent Location: Mansfield
Grimy miners head home at the end of their shift in the days before pithead baths.
Public Information Filler19727 mins Location: Handsworth
Three Handsworth households get paid to breathe more easily in this jaunty promo about Sheffield's switch to smokeless fuels.
The only two surviving scenes from an amazing Edwardian film about the work of Britain's coalminers.
Cinemagazine19539 mins Location: Ystradgynlais
Miners from Glamorganshire and Stafford let down their hair with festivals, galas and lashings of beer.
Cinemagazine19609 mins Location: Stoke-on-Trent
Pits, quoits and 'Cosie' the hungry baby bear - this cinemagazine offers some wonderful vignettes of life beyond the 'face'.
Non-Fiction19727 mins Location: Usworth
In the cold winter of 1972 Usworth Colliery miners refuse to keep the home fires burning during a national miners strike.
Cinemagazine19608 mins Location: Linton
Bobby Charlton and his brothers Gordon and Jack meet their father Bert, a miner, as he clocks off from work.
Non-Fiction19211 minsSilent Location: Chiswick
With scant regard for Health & Safety, the women of Chiswick smoke, lounge and leapfrog to their heart’s content for the start of the mixed-bathing season.
Drama196350 mins Location: Blackhill
Miners, villagers and a Tory Lord fight the Blackhill Colliery closure in this moving documentary inspired by the Free Cinema movement of the 1950s.
Non-Fiction19105 minsSilent Location: Aberaman
Beautifully-photographed scenes of industrial beauty, bleakness and jollity in Aberaman, in the Rhondda, South Wales.
Billingham Wharf and Official Opening of the Coal Hydrogenation Petrol Plant, ICI Billingham, by James Ramsay MacDonald M.P.Billingham Wharf and Official Opening of the Coal Hydrogenation Petrol Plant, ICI Billingham, by James Ramsay MacDonald M.P.
Cinemagazine19359 minsSilent Location: Billingham
A political giant takes a trip by electric buggy into the heart of an extraordinary chemical town at Billingham.
Documentary197326 mins Location: Nottingham
The styles, streets and music of 1970s Nottingham are engagingly evoked in this industrial process film.
Where do all the miners go on a Monday? With an average of forty percent of miners staying away from work at the start of the week, what are they all doing and can the industry cope?
Government sponsored film194415 mins Location: Rhondda
An insight into the life of coal miner Charles Jones from the Rhondda valley, an area famous for it’s coal production.
Comedy191930 minsSilent Location: Pontypridd
Knockabout comedy that grabs attention through its setting of the Pwyllgwaun colliery near Pontypridd.
Campaigning film198440 mins Location: Betteshanger Colliery
Wives and mothers call for the release of miners jailed during the Miners' Strike.
Documentary198946 mins Location: Loughor
From Tenerife to Treorchy: Jack Bellamy’s tribute to the canary, the little yellow songster that saved so many miners’ lives.
A filmic speed date with the multifaceted rock celebrates its talents and virtues in the days before its shortcomings soured the relationship.
Current affairs19846 mins Location: Stafford
With a crowd of over 2,000 and a pop star like reception for Arthur Scargill, the NUM conference in Sheffield is a rallying cry from the striking miners.
Government sponsored film194618 minsSilent
Trainees are busy learning "a career rather than a job" at the world's first Mines Mechanisation Training Centre in Sheffield.
194720 mins Location: Tillicoultry
The future of postwar Britain lies in the hands of her miners, according to this film encouraging young lads to work in the coal industry
Promotional19349 minsSilent Location: Treorchy/Treorci
The Ocean Coal Company plays its part in the “war against dirt” by providing pithead baths. Its new sports facilities and playgrounds offer healthy fun for all the community.
Factual TV19778 mins Location: Wicken Fen
With a black Labrador by his side, “Fen Tiger” Harold Sennit, the self-proclaimed “last of the peat diggers”, sets to work at Wicken Fen, Cambs.
Documentary196945 mins Location: Scapegoat Hill
“If there’s music in yer, it has to come out”. But northern brass bands, as this film testifies, reveal so much more about working class life than its innate creativity.
The struggling UK coal industry is under the spotlight, together with the US liquor trade and the rise in trailer living.
Non-Fiction19121 minsSilent Location: London
From Westminster to Derbyshire: life at the coalface of one of Britain's defining political dramas.
Documentary196853 minsSilent Location: Trimdon Grange
Songs, stories, anger and resignation as Trimdon Grange colliery in County Durham faces closure in 1968
Documentary198226 mins Location: Gascoigne Wood Mine
A highly revealing look at the high expectations for coal mining in Yorkshire shortly before the defeat of the miners and mass pit closures.
Documentary196937 mins Location: Swillington
A rare example of social mobility as an ex-miner crosses the class divide, while still retaining some loyalty to his former community.
Non-Fiction191913 minsSilent Location: Wath Upon Dearne
The whole spectrum of colliery workers and their families take a break from work, parade their horses and exhibit their natural cheerfulness.
Documentary197352 mins Location: Overton
As a coachload of miners drain a crate of beer each on a trip to Scarborough, several talk onions, another hustles at darts and one acts the clown.
Industry sponsored film192610 minsSilent Location: Beckton
The awe-inspiring industrial splendour of Beckton gasworks is on show in this beautifully photographed film
Who Voted for This? - The Nationalisation of Coal (1)Who Voted for This? - The Nationalisation of Coal (1)
Campaigning film19481 mins
Gender stereotypes alert! Bert insists he knows what he’s doing - with predictable results, as far as his wife is concerned
Who Voted for This? - The Nationalisation of Coal (2)Who Voted for This? - The Nationalisation of Coal (2)
Campaigning film19482 mins
There’s no stopping Joe once he gets going on the topic of the nationalisation of the coal industry.