This film is part of Free

Miner's Daily Life

A day in the lives of colliers at Shirebrook coal mine on the Nottinghamshire Derbyshire border

Interest film 1904 5 mins Silent


This strikingly well-preserved film is the earliest of a number of proto-documentaries exploring the hidden world of the coal miner, which has held a fascination for audiences ever since. The danger is emphasised from the first shot, as a miner tests his Davy lamp and we see foremen searching miners for matches. There's even a dramatic arrest when a man is discovered smuggling matches and tobacco down the pit. There are impressive recreations of the work of digging the coal and beautiful low-level shots of the coal carts rolling on tracks to the rail yard.

Later in 1904 the Mitchell and Kenyon company would make a longer, more detailed film, Black Diamonds: the Collier’s Daily Life, with 18 scenes following the path from coal face to domestic hearth. In 1910 Kineto produced the well-known A Day in the Life of a Coal Miner, which uses a similar structure. With thanks to Swedish Filminstitute Stockholm.