This film is part of Free

In the Low

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

Industry sponsored film 1946 20 mins


Claustrophobics will quiver at the miners in a low shaft, laying on a conveyor belt and transported deep under Northumberland. Work on the floor of the belt makers in Gateshead is less cramped but no lighter. There are youthful apprentices and old hands side by side at jig and lathe; in the era before automation, manual operations rule and there's a job for all. The dialogue between narrator and an American reveals the film's promotional intent, but surely no one's buying that phoney accent?

Production company the Big Six Film Unit was one of many small documentary outfits outputting industrial films in the post-war era. While filming of the nationalised coal producer was sewn up by the state's documentary makers (at the Central Office of Information and National Coal Board Film Unit), Big Six's eccentric supremo, Edward Cook, picked up work around the industry making low-budget promotional films for ancillary companies and the National Union of Mineworkers. This film followed and continued another Big Six film, In the Pentland Hills, made for the same client: mining machinery supplier Hugh Wood & Co.