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Coal Mining in Britain | The story of mining from the coal face to the strike

About this collection

Coal mining has been an essential part of British industry since Roman times. This collection looks at the hardship of the day-to-day toil beneath the earth as well as the effects of industrial action and political upheaval on the communities themselves. We remember the forgotten heroes of World War II, the Bevin Boys, and meet four generations of a Durham mining community.

This is the story of British coal mining, told through BBC radio and TV broadcasts from the last 70 years and a gallery of images from the 1930s.

Coal Mining in Britain Collection

A warm coal fire.

Street Musicians

Welsh Miners' Choir

BROADCAST 1936
3 MINUTES

Two recordings of a Welsh male-voice choir.

Joan Littlewood and miners down a mine.

Coal

BROADCAST 1938
16 MINUTES

'Behind the seams' at a Durham coal mine.

The wheels of a coal mine pithead.

Woman's Hour

Two Generations

BROADCAST 1959
7 MINUTES

How do the experiences of two miners from separate generations differ?

A hand tuning in an old-fashioned radio.

New Lamps For Old

BROADCAST 1960
27 MINUTES

The story of the closing of Brereton Colliery.

Welsh miners at Tylorstown Pit, Rhondda.

The Long Street

Road to Pandy Square

BROADCAST 1965
28 MINUTES

Remembering Tonypandy's role in the 1921 National Coal Strike.

The Man Alive logo.

Man Alive

Packing Up and Moving Out

BROADCAST 1967
29 MINUTES

Two mining families make the decision to move from Northumberland to Nottingham.

An old-fashioned BBC radio microphone.

James Gilfillan

BROADCAST 1968
15 MINUTES

Memories of childhood in a 1930s Glasgow mining family.

Comedian and former Bevin Boy miner Eric Morecambe.

What Did You Do In The War, Daddy?

BROADCAST 1969
28 MINUTES

The story of the men who spent World War II down the mines.

Miners underground. © Corbis

A Year in the Life

Craghead: 1968-1969

BROADCAST 1969
45 MINUTES

A turbulent time for a mining village in the North East of England.

A miner.

Man In His Place

Durham: 1: A Man's Life

BROADCAST 1972
24 MINUTES

Exploring the culture and social history of the Durham coal fields.

Fresh faced Bevin Boy miners walking to work.

It's Saturday

Bill Smith

BROADCAST 1972
4 MINUTES

Memories of a Bevin Boy from Bridlington.

A close-up of a tuba.

Omnibus

Shafts Of Sunlight

BROADCAST 1975
48 MINUTES

Where there's muck, there's brass... and pigeons and lurchers and bingo too.

The Nationwide logo - a sun created from the letters 'N W'.

Nationwide

Pit Animals

BROADCAST 1981
5 MINUTES

The diminishing role of animals in Britain's coal mines.

The Rhondda Valley

Down You Go, Down Below

BROADCAST 1982
44 MINUTES

A history of the South Wales mining industry.

The logo for the 40 Minutes programme.

Forty Minutes

Miners

BROADCAST 1982
40 MINUTES

A weekend in the lives of four Yorkshire miners.

Ernest Bevin

Bevin Boys

BROADCAST 1983
29 MINUTES

Recollections of conscription in the coal industry during World War II.

Jeremy Paxman

Panorama

The Coal War

BROADCAST 1984
49 MINUTES

Is the ongoing miners' strike turning moderates into militants?

Fred Emery, standing in front of the Panorama globe logo.

Panorama

Is The Coal Face Crumbling?

BROADCAST 1984
50 MINUTES

The miners' strike continues with both sides predicting victory.

Arthur Scargill

Panorama

How Much Longer?

BROADCAST 1985
49 MINUTES

A 'Panorama' report broadcast in the final weeks of the miners' strike.

John Morgan

Letter From A Mining Village

BROADCAST 1985
14 MINUTES

A personal perspective on life in a 1930s mining community.

Brian Ord

A Year in the Life

Twenty Years On: Craghead

BROADCAST 1990
49 MINUTES

Revisiting the story of miners from a documentary made in 1969.

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