Miners Leaving Pendlebury Colliery
1901 | 1 min
Taken from the Mitchell & Kenyon collection, this is one of the earliest films of British miners, shown here at the end of a shift. One of the miners is black, a reminder that Britain had a small ethnic minority long before mass immigration.
A Day in the Life of a Coal Miner
1910 | 10 mins
One of the first authentic documentaries (as opposed to simple actuality records), shown here with a new score. It depicts various stages in a miner's working day, from locking the lamps prior to descent to sorting the freshly-won coal.
Score courtesy of Vector Lovers
1935 | 11 mins
Long regarded as a classic of British documentary, chiefly for its remarkably inventive soundtrack (words by W.H. Auden, music by Benjamin Britten), but also for its vivid depiction of mining conditions a dozen years before nationalisation.
Courtesy of Royal Mail Group Ltd.
Songs of the Coalfields
The Sandgate Nursing Song
1964 | 2 mins
Composed by the blind singer Robert Nunn in the early 1800s, this Newcastle ballad is performed by Ewan MacColl and Isla Cameron, who portrays a mother singing to her baby son about his likely future as a miner.
The Best Little Doorboy
1964 | 2 mins
Ewan MacColl performs a 19th century ballad from the Welsh valleys, celebrating by name the various support workers at the Rhondda pits, especially the boys who used to work the ventilation doors as the first stage in a mining career.
The Blantyre Explosion
1964 | 3 mins
This mournful Scottish ballad commemorates the disaster at Dixon's Colliery at High Blantyre in 1877, and laments the miners who perished. The ballad has added poignancy by being told from the viewpoint of one of their girlfriends.
Mining Review 2nd Year No.12
1949 | 5 mins (extract)
Miners and their families take a well-earned break with visits to Blackpool and Butlins at Filey, in this edition of the National Coal Board's long running newsreel Mining Review (1947-83).
Dir: John Irvin | 1963 | 10 mins (extract)
This portrait of the Durham Miners' Gala was filmed in July 1962 for the BFI's Experimental Film Fund. The historic annual event bursts into life as thousands descend on the city for a lively meeting of politics and play.
1965 | 2 mins
Very much of its time, this NCB-produced recruitment ad aims, not always convincingly, to present a career in mining as making an essential contribution to helping the 60s swing.
What About That Job?
Dir: Peter Pickering | 1970 | 6 mins
One of several films acted by real mineworkers and used in NCB management training courses. These films betray a rather sour early-70s view of things, in this case Big Job in reverse: a new recruit isn't happy working down the mine…
Forty Years On
1978 | 3 mins (extract)
This film was made to celebrate the achievements of nationalisation, its commentary confidently (if tragically erroneously) predicting coal's central role in the British economy, "not only for the next 40 years but for the next 400".
The Battle of Orgreave
Dir: Mike Figgis | 2001 | 2 mins (extract)
Artist Jeremy Deller conceived this re-enactment of one of the most violent clashes of the 1984 Miners' Strike, when picketers fought with police in the streets and fields of Orgreave, South Yorkshire.
Courtesy of Channel 4
Not Just Tea and Sandwiches
1984 | 12 mins
One of the campaign videotapes made to help present the striking miners' cause in the face of an overwhelming government propaganda blitz. This complete edition is particularly poignant, as it looks at the impact of the strike on miners' wives and families.
Courtesy of Platform Films
Mining Review 7th Year No.12: Balletomines
1954 | 3 mins
Miners from the West Riding Colliery give a performance of Delibes' 'Coppélia' for charity at Normanton Central Town Club, with firm support from the newsreel commentator: "If Robert Helpmann's a bit better, so what? It's all in a good cause!"