This film is part of Free

Dawdon Colliery

Grit, grime and graft fathoms beneath the North Sea for coal miners at Dawdon Colliery.

News 1967 8 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for North East Film Archive


This candid, observational Tyne Tees TV news feature powerfully communicates the raw experience of a pitmans shift at Dawdon Colliery in 1967 the heat, dirt, cramped tunnels and deafening noise of coal-cutting machines and conveyors. Without commentary, this film recalls a vanished era of courage and camaraderie for the miners working in hellish conditions two miles out and 1,000 feet below the North Sea, off the Durham coastline.

The use of lighter portable synch-sound cameras and fast film stock transformed the style of news journalism at Tyne Tees Television in the 1960s. A smaller crew could capture how things really happen with direct sound recorded during filming, the structure later emerging from editing. Influenced by the form of documentary approach labelled direct cinema, pioneered by cameramen at the Canadian National Film Board (NFB) from 1958, and American filmmakers such as Albert and David Maysles working for Drew Associates, this short film imparts an authenticity to the miners experience missing, for instance, from work such as the NCB Film Units Mining Review. Work at Dawdon colliery ended in 1991.