This film is part of Free

Manvers May Day Parade

The whole spectrum of colliery workers and their families take a break from work, parade their horses and exhibit their natural cheerfulness.

Non-Fiction 1919 13 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Yorkshire Film Archive


A fascinating look at a miners’ May Day just after the First World War at Manvers Main Colliery. The miners, in the common working class wear of white cravats and flat caps, stand with their wives staring at the camera as iof something quite alien to their world, and others indulge in the clowning typical of the time, including a Charlie Chaplin impersonator. Some miners proudly display their shire horses, while others, many of startling young age, trudge to and from the pit.

This film was taken by Debenham & Co. of York and Beverley. Manvers Main at Wath in fact consisted of three collieries, with the first being sunk in the late 1890s. At that time the minimum working age was 12, which remained until 1933, when it was raised to 13. It was also a time when some 70,000 ponies worked underground, preferred as they were short and well-tempered. With the fear of working class revolt at the end of the war, wages had been held stable, waiting until that fateful day of 31 March 1921, Black Friday, when pay reductions were imposed and the other unions of the Triple Alliance failed to back the miners. Yet it was Manvers that kicked start the great strike of 1984, and the mine was duly closed in 1988.