This film is part of Free

Review 27th Year No. 12

Fascinatingly wrong 1970s predictions of how UK energy needs will be met in the future.

Cinemagazine 1974 10 mins


Where will Britain get its energy from? This film makes fascinatingly wrong predictions. It's one of the many 1970s editions of the National Coal Board's monthly Review series cheerleading coal's place within a fuel-diversity economy. Subtitled "Today and Tomorrow", the film takes us on a brisk tour of the industry's mid-70s infrastructural investment, in Staffordshire, Wales, the North East and Yorkshire.

This edition of Review was produced in the wake of both the world energy crisis and the resolution of the 1974 miners' strike. It evokes an industry, short-term troubles behind it, looking ahead with cautious but palpable and persuasive confidence. It quotes visually from another NCB production, "Tomorrow's Coal", about the Selby complex where much money and hope was invested. Narrator Francis Gysin (head of the NCB Film Unit) speaks of "coal to power Britain as far ahead as we can see". But the film proved more near-sighted than almost anyone could then have guessed. Where, Gysin asks, will the children of 1974 get their resources when grown? The one-word answer is, of course, China. This government film is a public record, preserved and presented by the BFI National Archive on behalf of The National Archives, home to more than 1,000 years of British history.