This film is part of Free

London: The Coal Strike

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

Non-Fiction 1912 1 mins Silent


Pathe pioneered the newsreel, and this early example lends simple visual intrigue to a developing story. It's smart suits on Downing Street but sooty faces in Derbyshire - could the lives of the politicians and miners look any more different? Trenchant social divisions may not have ended right here, but this strike proved a success for the miners, who were granted a minimum wage.

Newsreel producers didn't look to question the established order, and sure enough, these Grassmoor men are said to be "throwing down" their equipment, as if in an act of petulance against their bosses. In fact, the miners were in a league with almost a million others in Britain who downed tools in 1912 in a protest over pay. Following the national railway strike and the Llanelli riots of the previous year, these events marked an era of growing industrial action - and, sometimes, violence.