This film is part of Free

Solid Fuel

A chorus of coal fires sing for their cut-price supper in this short animated ad for the National Coal Board.

Animation & Artists Moving Image 1965


What would you do if someone dropped a ton of coal on your doorstep? Where would you put it? Coal delivery to the home is a rare sight these days, and TV ads for such services almost unthinkable. This short cartoon makes use of a catchy jingle, adds some sophistication with the conductor rather than a grimy coal man, and wraps it up with a summer sale offer of 25 shillings (£1.25) off every ton. Quite what you would do with 20 sacks of coal in summer is unmentioned…

The advert was produced by Halas & Batchelor Cartoon Films, Britain's largest animation studio at the time, and best known for their version of George Orwell's Animal Farm (1954). Though uncredited, the actual animation drawings were almost certainly by Harold Whitaker, whose fluid, bouncy style is very recognisable. The conductor would have been a familiar subject as Harold directed and animated a comic short called Hoffnung’s Symphony Orchestra around the same time. Based on the work of Gerald Hoffnung, it features a similar conductor figure literally bringing down the Albert Hall in a barnstorming performance.