This film is part of Free

Blackhill Campaign

Miners, villagers and a Tory Lord fight the Blackhill Colliery closure in this moving documentary inspired by the Free Cinema movement of the 1950s.

Drama 1963 50 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for North East Film Archive


In December 1958 the National Coal Board (NCB) announced the closure of the small Northumbrian colliery of Blackhill. Miners and local supporters (including Lord Lambton) led an impassioned fight for survival as the last shifts were worked at the coal face. A poetic and gritty slice of working class realism by director Jack Parsons, this documentary presents the conflict and its aftermath over the course of 4 years a harbinger of political struggles in the 1980s.

An academic and former NCB researcher, Jack Parsons was drawn to a battle against the establishment that hit the headlines, which he later likened to a real-life Passport to Pimlico. Parsons powerful propaganda film, a one-off, was no doubt informed by his New Left sympathies and contacts. These included a rising star of the Free Cinema movement, Karel Reisz, who had just completed his acclaimed documentary We Are the Lambeth Boys (1959). Parsons cited him as a significant influence on the form and style of Blackhill Campaign a low-budget, subjective approach to cinema, with shades of Humphrey Jennings work in the 1930s. The film owes some success to poignant narration by a former Blackhill miner.