This film is part of Free

It's Not all Coal

A magical travelogue of Northumberland proves it’s not all grim up North.

Amateur film 1954 30 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for North East Film Archive


It is often suggested that JB Priestley’s book English Journey was responsible for creating the “grim up north” stereotype, but this amateur filmmaker has broadcasters in his sights in the 1950s. His tribute to the rural beauty, history and craft of Northumberland is a colourful response to the media focus on coal mines and shipyards, at its most memorable in a portrait of farmer and master stick dresser George Snaith, posing with his elaborately carved shepherd crooks.

This travelogue was produced by George Cummin, a former 1930s dance band musician and reserve fireman in Manchester during World War Two. He had been making films since 1933 as a member of the Newcastle and District Amateur Cinematographers’ Association, founded in 1927. Cummin worked on documentaries and fiction films into the 60s, including Silver Plaque winner at Amateur Cine World in 1952, ‘PC Grubb’s Last Case’. A well-known character in the Cheviot Hills, George Snaith was a founder member and president of the Border Stick Dressers’ Association, set up by a group of shepherds in the College Valley, with the Duke of Northumberland as patron.