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.

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Documentary195036 minsSilent Location: Featherstone

Absorbing overview of coalmining in the early years of nationalisation.

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Thud and Blunder in Knock off TimeThud and Blunder in Knock off Time

Animation & Artists Moving Image19642 mins

Miners' safety training - marked by stylish animation and gallows humour.

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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.

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Big PitBig Pit

Industry sponsored film19787 mins Location: Blaenavon

Memories of Blaenavon Colliery, Monmouthshire, as it nears its end.

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Guilty ChimneysGuilty Chimneys

Documentary195418 mins

Elegiac sponsored film imploring viewers to "allow the sun to penetrate the haze of ignorance" and relieve British cities of pollution.

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People Will Always Need CoalPeople Will Always Need Coal

Advert19751 mins

Deliriously kitsch recruitment ad for the implausibly glamorous world of coalmining.

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Campaign to Organise the General StrikeCampaign to Organise the General Strike

Campaigning film198432 mins

Young Socialists take the lead in the struggle against the "Tory dictatorship" led by Margaret Thatcher.

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Adventure of CoalAdventure of Coal

Promotional194710 mins

"Coalmining is now the greatest adventure of all time" according to this recruitment film.

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Tour of a British Coal MineTour of a British Coal Mine

Amateur film192826 minsSilent Location: Barnsley

Deep underground, Yorkshire miners hew their living out of the coalface.

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Meet the PioneersMeet the Pioneers

Promotional194832 mins

This directorial debut from Lindsay Anderson is an unexpectedly lyrical portrait of conveyor belts.

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Phoenix MagazinePhoenix Magazine

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.

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Miners' MeccaMiners' Mecca

Non-Fiction19291 minsSilent

Fire eating, sword dancing, beautiful banners and a whole lot of brass - Durham's 'Big Meeting' gets under way.

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Miners' Strike Appeal FilmMiners' Strike Appeal Film

Campaigning film19841 mins

Striking imagery powers this campaigning film on behalf of striking miners and their families.

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Mining Review 6th Year No. 1Mining Review 6th Year No. 1

19529 mins

This compendium of colliery tales includes miners enjoying a Butlins holiday, a round of golf at Gleneagles and a visit to a film set.

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A Day in the Life of a Coal MinerA Day in the Life of a Coal Miner

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.

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Pigeon CreePigeon Cree

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.

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Documentary194018 minsSilent

Meet Windsor the pit pony, pulling his weight (and more) for the war effort.

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The Smoke MenaceThe Smoke Menace

Industry sponsored film193711 mins Location: Westminster

The deadly downside of Britain's industrial might: smog.

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Moving EarthMoving Earth

194920 minsSilent

Monster plant machinery is used in the preparation of land and for the extraction of coal in open-cast mining.

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Mining Review 23rd Year No. 6Mining Review 23rd Year No. 6

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.

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Documentary193527 mins Location: Chapeltown

A look at Thorncliffe's extensive industrial heritage - from the 18th century to the 1930s.

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Mining Review 23rd Year No. 1Mining Review 23rd Year No. 1

196910 mins Location: Chalfont St Giles

Welcome aboard 'Futuro', a spherical 'space house' for the 1970s.

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Baxi-pak Open Fire Central HeatingBaxi-pak Open Fire Central Heating

Documentary19646 mins

Wokingham gets new houses warmed with the cutting-edge technology of the 60s.

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Many Feared Dead in Pit DisasterMany Feared Dead in Pit Disaster

Non-Fiction19311 minsSilent Location: Whitehaven

The aftermath of a devastating explosion at Haig pit in the Whitehaven coal field.

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Black DiamondsBlack Diamonds

Amateur film193250 mins Location: Doncaster

A Barnsley miner dreams of shooting a film about life down the pits in this audaciously ambitious amateur feature.

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Dust - Miners' DiseaseDust - Miners' Disease

197328 mins

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.

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Seeing for HimselfSeeing for Himself

Non-Fiction19292 minsSilent

Not a waving flag or curtsey in sight as a solemn Prince of Wales tours deprived north east mining villages.

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General Strike OffGeneral Strike Off

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.

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Mining Review 14th Year No. 10Mining Review 14th Year No. 10

Cinemagazine196110 mins Location: Spalding

Spalding in Lincolnshire boasts eight million tulips in glorious array, while Eton boys go down a pit in Ayrshire.

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Mining Review 19th Year No. 11Mining Review 19th Year No. 11

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.

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Miners Demonstration at Wakefield (1908)Miners Demonstration at Wakefield (1908)

Non-Fiction19082 minsSilent Location: Wakefield

Infectiously lively film of a Yorkshire mining community's grand day out.

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Miners' Last StandMiners' Last Stand

Documentary197227 mins Location: Armthorpe

This Week report capturing the immediacy of life on the picket line in South Yorkshire.

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Coal CrisisCoal Crisis

194720 minsSilent

Is coal king or is it in crisis? This Modern Age offers its vision for the future.

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Forest of Dean Free MinersForest of Dean Free Miners

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.

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Beamish North of England Open Air MuseumBeamish North of England Open Air Museum

197626 mins

A ‘living museum’ at Beamish rides the waves of interest in industrial heritage in the 1970s. [78]

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Selby: The Saving Face for CoalSelby: The Saving Face for Coal

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.

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Rhondda and WyeRhondda and Wye

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.

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Big GeordieBig Geordie

Industry sponsored film197021 mins Location: Widdrington

A mechanical monster of the 70s takes its place in Northumberland’s coal mining history.

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Harold Wilson - Right of Reply - Coal DisputeHarold Wilson - Right of Reply - Coal Dispute

Industry sponsored film19728 mins

Labour Party leader Harold Wilson speaks to the nation on the coal dispute in response to PM Edward Heath.

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Miners RetirementMiners Retirement

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?

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Raw MaterialsRaw Materials

School programme and Educational film19369 mins

The power behind industrial Scotland is beautifully photographed in these scenes of coalminers and iron ore smelting.

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Our Smallest CollieryOur Smallest Colliery

Non-Fiction19272 minsSilent Location: Shevington

A Lancashire farmer's fields yield an unusual crop

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Closure of Snibston CollieryClosure of Snibston Colliery

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.

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Miners Strike in South DerbyshireMiners Strike in South Derbyshire

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.

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Personnel Recovery UnitPersonnel Recovery Unit

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.

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Film and Photo League: South Wales MaterialFilm and Photo League: South Wales Material

193517 minsSilent Location: Dowlais

Potent, precious images of mining communities living through the bitter Depression years.

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Joint Sales DriveJoint Sales Drive

Documentary197410 mins

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.

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Miners Leaving Pendlebury Colliery (1901)Miners Leaving Pendlebury Colliery (1901)

Non-Fiction19011 minsSilent Location: Pendlebury

A black miner makes an intriguing addition to an already captivating film of coal workers up from their pit.

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Review 26th Year No. 3Review 26th Year No. 3

Cinemagazine197210 mins Location: Batley

A makeover in Batley, a super-dock in Immingham - and 70s kitsch abounds.

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Creswell and Langwith Miners, Mansfield (1900)Creswell and Langwith Miners, Mansfield (1900)

Non-Fiction19001 minsSilent Location: Mansfield

Grimy miners head home at the end of their shift in the days before pithead baths.

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Clean Air at HandsworthClean Air at Handsworth

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.

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Mining Review 4th Year No. 12Mining Review 4th Year No. 12

Industry sponsored film195110 mins Location: Bo'ness

Miners' lives and labours in Lanarkshire, Leicestershire and South Wales.

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Mining Review 2nd Year No. 4Mining Review 2nd Year No. 4

19489 mins Location: Bradford

The majestic rebirth of Manchester's Bradford Colliery and other stories.

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Black Diamonds - the Collier's Daily Life (1904)Black Diamonds - the Collier's Daily Life (1904)

Non-Fiction19043 minsSilent

The only two surviving scenes from an amazing Edwardian film about the work of Britain's coalminers.

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Mining Review 7th Year No. 2Mining Review 7th Year No. 2

Cinemagazine19539 mins Location: Ystradgynlais

Miners from Glamorganshire and Stafford let down their hair with festivals, galas and lashings of beer.

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Mining Review 2nd Year No. 5Mining Review 2nd Year No. 5

Cinemagazine19499 mins

Rotherham United talent scout Joe McGuire is on the look out for miners with footballing flair.

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Mining Review 13th Year No.12Mining Review 13th Year No.12

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'.

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Miners Strike, PicketsMiners Strike, Pickets

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.

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Mining Review 1st Year No. 2Mining Review 1st Year No. 2

194710 mins Location: Workington

A mass street football game in Workington, and fascinating debates in Glamorgan.

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Durham Miners' GalaDurham Miners' Gala

Non-Fiction19282 mins Location: Durham

Durham miners and their families mix fun with a dash of politics at their annual Gala.

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Mining Review 3rd Year No. 5Mining Review 3rd Year No. 5

19509 mins Location: Pimlico

Pipeline to Pimlico - Battersea Power Station helps change the face of Pimlico.

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Mining Review 15th Year No. 5Mining Review 15th Year No. 5

19629 mins Location: Peterlee

A visit to Peterlee, Co. Durham, plus news from Britain's coalfields.

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Mining Review 10th Year No. 11Mining Review 10th Year No. 11

19579 mins Location: Ashington

Ashington, Northumberland, when it was still King of Coal. Plus folk star Ewan MacColl.

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Mining Review 13th Year No. 7Mining Review 13th Year No. 7

Cinemagazine19608 mins Location: Linton

Bobby Charlton and his brothers Gordon and Jack meet their father Bert, a miner, as he clocks off from work.

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No Coal Wanted HereNo Coal Wanted Here

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.

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Blackhill CampaignBlackhill Campaign

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.

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Welsh Coal Strike Scenes at AberamanWelsh Coal Strike Scenes at Aberaman

Non-Fiction19105 minsSilent Location: Aberaman

Beautifully-photographed scenes of industrial beauty, bleakness and jollity in Aberaman, in the Rhondda, South Wales.

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Incinerate - With CoalIncinerate - With Coal

Documentary197326 mins Location: Nottingham

The styles, streets and music of 1970s Nottingham are engagingly evoked in this industrial process film.

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Durham Miners GalaDurham Miners Gala

Non-Fiction19302 mins Location: Durham

Billowing banners and copious crowds throng Durham for the annual Miners' Gala.

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Miners AbsenteeismMiners Absenteeism

Non-Fiction19654 mins

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?

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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.

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Facts and FanciesFacts and Fancies

Documentary195124 mins

Joan Collins gets to grips with the by-products of coal in her first screen appearance

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Coals and CourtshipCoals and Courtship

Comedy191930 minsSilent Location: Pontypridd

Knockabout comedy that grabs attention through its setting of the Pwyllgwaun colliery near Pontypridd.

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£20 per Ton£20 per Ton

Comedy19555 mins

In a London factory money's going up the chimney, out the roof and down the pipes: an early documentary by Lindsay Anderson.

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Release the Jailed Miners!Release the Jailed Miners!

Campaigning film198440 mins Location: Betteshanger Colliery

Wives and mothers call for the release of miners jailed during the Miners' Strike.

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Tidy Is SafeTidy Is Safe

Documentary197514 mins

A neat coalition between the Keep Britain Tidy Group and the National Coal Board aims to inspire colliery cleanliness.

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Lle Triga’r CaneriLle Triga’r Caneri

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.

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Romance of a Lump of CoalRomance of a Lump of Coal

Documentary19355 mins

A filmic speed date with the multifaceted rock celebrates its talents and virtues in the days before its shortcomings soured the relationship.

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NUM RallyNUM Rally

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.

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School programme and Educational film197810 mins

An illuminating introduction to coalmining for young schoolchildren

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Solid FuelSolid Fuel

Animation & Artists Moving Image19650 mins

A chorus of coal fires sing for their cut-price supper in this short animated ad for the National Coal Board.

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Safety Loops No. 12Safety Loops No. 12

197011 mins

Coalminers Beware! Short sharp safety messages that hit the spot.

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Coal Mining TodayCoal Mining Today

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.

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We've Got What It TakesWe've Got What It Takes

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

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Mining Review 6th Year No. 5Mining Review 6th Year No. 5

19539 mins

An intriguing blast from soccer's past: Wrexham meet Beighton Miners Welfare in FA Cup First Round.

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Ocean Collieries Recreational UnionOcean Collieries Recreational Union

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.

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The Peat DiggerThe Peat Digger

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.

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Where There's BrassWhere There's Brass

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.

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Review 27th Year No. 12Review 27th Year No. 12

Cinemagazine197410 mins Location: Selby

Fascinatingly wrong 1970s predictions of how UK energy needs will be met in the future.

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Coal Industry in BritainCoal Industry in Britain

Anthology193720 mins

The struggling UK coal industry is under the spotlight, together with the US liquor trade and the rise in trailer living.

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Under New ManagementUnder New Management

Documentary194813 mins

The coal industry needs you! Newly nationalised mining companies seek colliers, stokers, gaffers and lamp-keepers.

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Wealth from CoalWealth from Coal

194010 minsSilent

The curious by-products of crude coal - drugs, plastics, benzole and fertilizer among them - and their wartime uses.

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In the LowIn the Low

Industry sponsored film194620 mins

Join the working men of a northern powerhouse: on the job in Gateshead workshops and at the long wall of a Northumberland pit.

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London: The Coal StrikeLondon: The Coal Strike

Non-Fiction19121 minsSilent Location: London

From Westminster to Derbyshire: life at the coalface of one of Britain's defining political dramas.

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It's Dark Down ThereIt's Dark Down There

Documentary196853 minsSilent Location: Trimdon Grange

Songs, stories, anger and resignation as Trimdon Grange colliery in County Durham faces closure in 1968

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Documentary19718 mins

Excitable or restless? Learn how to control your impulses in this safety film from the National Coal Board

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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.

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Jim Bullock: Miner ExtraordinaryJim Bullock: Miner Extraordinary

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.

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Manvers May Day ParadeManvers May Day Parade

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.

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Two Weeks ClearTwo Weeks Clear

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.

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State of EmergencyState of Emergency

Documentary197852 mins

Key figures behind the clash between the government and the National Union of Mineworkers speak

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Fuel for BattleFuel for Battle

Industry sponsored film194421 mins

There’s a war on and coal is needed – lots, and fast. Dylan Thomas is on hand to script this fascinating documentary.

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A Man's AffairA Man's Affair

Romance194965 mins

A holiday romance between a miner and a secretary blossoms in Ramsgate

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Beckton Coke WorksBeckton Coke Works

Industry sponsored film192610 minsSilent Location: Beckton

The awe-inspiring industrial splendour of Beckton gasworks is on show in this beautifully photographed film

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An Island Built on CoalAn Island Built on Coal

Documentary198642 mins

Insightful documentary charting the decline of industrial relations in mining culminating in the 1984-85 strike

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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

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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.

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Happy ResultHappy Result

Non-Fiction19304 minsSilent

Back to the coal face: miners, mine owners and government agree to split the difference in a dispute over working hours.

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Mining Review 15th Year No. 8Mining Review 15th Year No. 8

Cinemagazine196210 mins Location: Llandaff

From Llanduff to Castleford on an intriguingly odd tour of the UK's coal industry

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Women of the RhonddaWomen of the Rhondda

Documentary197321 mins

Tales of the valley: women recall their lives in the mining communities of the Rhondda