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
Selby: The Saving Face for Coal
The most advanced deep coal mine in the world opens while those who work it stand by their fellow miners, as the future of both the miners and coal mining is decided on the picket line.
From the collection of:
A rather inauspicious time for one of the largest, deep coal mines in the world to come on stream, as the miners enter a year long bitter battle with the government in 1984. Amidst the state of the art coal cutters and the high hopes for the £1 billion complex, the miners demonstrate both their bravery and their solidarity; while as hostilities intensify, the two main protagonists, Arthur Scargill and Ian MacGregor, take time out to state their case.
The defeat of the miners’ strike in 1985 was a decisive turning point for the trade unions in Britain. Although ostensibly the strike was purely over the closure of unproductive pits, some argued that defeating the miners was also part of a political agenda of the Thatcher government to disable the power of the trade unions. The documentary repeats the NCB line of closing 20 pits, although Cabinet papers released in 2014 revealed that Scargill was right in his claim that the real figure was above 70 pits. The Selby complex proved not to be “the saving face of coal”, failing to last the 30 years predicted in the film, but rather started to make a loss shortly after being privatised in 1995, eventually closing in 2004.