This film is part of Free

The Hospital Sing

A chance to see and hear the last mining village, and last generation, to keep alive a cultural practice that knitted a community together.

Documentary 1987 26 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for Yorkshire Film Archive


It’s the 100th anniversary of the Mapplewell and Staincross Hospital and Comfort Fund Sing, the last surviving mining village choir singing event of its kind. Local lad Brian Blessed is on hand to talk to those involved and explore the history and ubiquity of singing in Yorkshire mining villages, inspired by the strength of the Methodist chapel in mining communities. This documentary provides a unique insight into a historical practice that has now vanished.

This Yorkshire Television documentary, part of the Northern Line series, was directed by Tony Scull who made many documentaries with a musical theme. The villages of Mapplewell and Staincross had virtually merged by the time North Gawber colliery was sunk in 1855. After nail making the pit became the main employer, employing over 1,400 by 1949. After the 1984/85 strike it merged with nearby Woolley colliery, closing in 1987. Methodism was a strong presence, with John Wesley preaching in Mapplewell in 1761 and Staincross in 1786. Raising money for local hospitals was the norm right up to the introduction of the NHS. It seems that the annual singing event came to an end shortly after this film.