This film is part of Free

Tour of a British Coal Mine

Deep underground, Yorkshire miners hew their living out of the coalface.

Amateur film 1928 26 mins Silent


This astonishingly ambitious amateur documentary examines the working lives of Barnsley's pitmen, whose muscle and machinery cut deep into the South Yorkshire Coalfield. It's an industrial process film at heart, following the miners' journey to work, descent at the pithead, labour underground, and the cut coal's journey by rail to Grimsby docks. Stylish and poetic, the scenes at the coalface are charged with elemental drama.

The film was directed by former miner Charles Hanmer, and made for Danish coal merchants Dansk Andels Kulforretning. Hanmer revisited the footage shot for Tour of a British Coal Mine in 1932, recycling some of the underground scenes for his debut feature Black Diamonds (also available on BFI Player).