The Workers' Coast

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Coast, Series 8 Episode 2 of 6

Duration: 1 hour

In the second episode of the new series, Coast is on a journey to celebrate the surprising stories of the workers from around our shores. From foundry men who burnished the secrets of our sea power, to the super-star performers who wowed the crowds in Edwardian resorts, these are tales of the hard grafters who made Britain great.

Nick Crane tells the chilling tale of an abandoned refrigeration plant whose workers kept Britain's biggest fishing fleet afloat. How did their ingenious production line create the tons of ice needed each day to keep the fish from Grimsby's trawlers fresh for the nation's plates? The extraordinary Grimsby Ice Factory, dating from 1901, was one of the few sites in the country that could freeze water on a truly industrial scale. The Ice Factory closed its doors for the last time in 1990, but the last man to work there returns to bring the whole process back to life.

And how good is your parking? At the port on the river Tyne, Nick joins a crack team of drivers on a race against time to precision park hundreds of new British-built cars aboard a huge purpose-built car-transporter. Nick is pushed to the limit squeezing in the vehicles just millimetres apart, for export around the world.

Neil Oliver relives a remarkable tale: when thousands of shipyard workers on the river Clyde fought job losses, not by walking out on strike, but by 'working-in'. In 1971 the famous Clydeside work-in was a revolutionary new tactic; the struggle to keep on working whatever the bosses said attracted world-wide financial support, including red roses and cash from John Lennon and Yoko Ono. It is credited with saving shipbuilding on the upper Clyde, but is the legend of the work-in all that it seems? For the first time, the man the government put in charge of the yards tells the story from his perspective, a version of events which re-writes the accepted history.

Tessa Dunlop reveals the astonishing, untold story of the secret of the Royal Navy's sea power, some 200 years ago. In Nelson's navy the British guns were more accurate than our enemies', thanks to our ability to manufacture super-smooth and perfectly round cannonballs. The secret ingredient was a mysterious and rare mineral called plumbago. The purest plumbago existed in only one mine in the world, near the port of Whitehaven. Tessa explores the abandoned mine workings to find the long-forgotten source of plumbago. Can she rediscover its remarkable properties by making her own super-smooth cannonballs?

And the legendary Ken Dodd joins Coast's resident story-teller Ian McMillan to celebrate the entertainers who worked so hard to get laughs from the holidaymakers of Blackpool in its heyday. For one night only they stage a unique show at the resort's historic Grand Theatre: 'Edwardian Britain's Got Seaside Talent'! Mega-stars of the Edwardian age, like 'Little Titch', were household names, while Vesta Tilley's cross-dressing turn as a young dandy-about-town, earned her the equivalent of £20,000 per week. Will their acts still stand up today? Tribute acts take to the stage to find out, as Ian discovers the story of the super-rich performers who wowed Britain's working classes.


Nicholas Crane
Tessa Dunlop
Neil Oliver
Ian McMillan
Miranda Krestovnikoff
Ken Dodd
Series Editor
Steve Evanson
Executive Producer
William Lyons


Meet the team

Coast ream lineup

Viking Fire festivals and the UK's oldest puffin: the Coast team can investigate anything

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