The Yorkshire Film Archive collects, preserves, and shows film made in, or about Yorkshire. Our collections are non-fiction, dating from the 1890s to the present day, and providing a rich and visually compelling record of all aspects of lives, cultures, landscape, industries, major events and everyday activities, many of which are available to watch, free of charge, on our website.
This film is part of Free
A highly revealing look at the high expectations for coal mining in Yorkshire shortly before the defeat of the miners and mass pit closures.
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Just two years before the great Miners’ Strike of 1984/85, the biggest in British history, a highly optimistic view is presented of the future of coal mining in South Yorkshire. The new £400 million coal complex of Selby is nearing completion, and interviews with the local council, the NCB and miners reveal high hopes that it will lead to more coal fields opening and more jobs for the area. Emphasis is put on the measures that have been taken to preserve the environment.
Given the developments in British coal mining in the years following this documentary, it has a rather anachronistic feel to it. The Selby complex was privatised in 1995, and closed in 2004. The optimism for the future of deep mined coal in South Yorkshire conflicts with the secret 1983 cabinet papers, revealed in 2015, showing that the Thatcher Government already planned to close 75 pits prior to the 1984 strike – despite repeated denials. MacGregor was appointed as Chairman of the NCB in March 1983 to oversee this. The argument as to whether this was for economic reasons, as stated, or to break the power of not only the NUM, but trade unions in general, and pave the way for privatisation, still rages.