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Mining Review 1/7: Coal on Ice (1948)


Main image of Mining Review 1/7: Coal on Ice (1948)
Mining Review 1st Year No. 7: Coal On Ice
March 1948
35mm, black and white, 3 mins
Director Peter Pickering
Production CompanyData Film Productions
SponsorNational Coal Board

Miner Tom Syme represents Britain in Olympic hockey.

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This dynamically-shot Mining Review item was one of many celebrating the sporting achievements of otherwise full-time miners - in this case that of the ice hockey player Tom 'Tuck' Syme.

Born in Blairhall on May 15, 1928, Syme initially continued the family tradition of working in the local colliery, joining his father and older brother at the age of fourteen. That same year, 1942, he took up ice skating at the nearby Dunfermline rink, becoming a fully-fledged ice hockey player at the age of sixteen. By the 1946-7 season, he was playing with local team the Dunfermline Royals, and in 1948 he was selected for the British team competing at the Winter Olympics in St Moritz, Switzerland. (He was actually nineteen at the time, a year older than claimed by the Mining Review commentator).

After this film was made, Syme moved to Canada on the recommendation of his coach Ken Kewley, and spent the next decade alternating between playing for Canadian and Scottish teams, often alongside his brother James, known ironically as 'Tiny'. Scottish hockey historian David Gordon estimates that Syme was the highest-paid sportsman in Britain by 1953, though this isn't saying much: his wages were £19 per week.

In 1954, Syme returned to Canada, combining playing for the Val d'Or team with working down the local mine - this time in search of gold. Finally, he moved to Los Angeles in 1960, where he worked for a telephone company before retiring. In 2005, he was formally inducted into the British Ice Hockey hall of fame.

Michael Brooke

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Video Clips
Complete item (2:58)
Complete newsreel (10:00)
Mining Review 1/7: Keep It Moving! (1948)
Mining Review 1/7: Living In (1948)
Mining Review 1/7: New Look For Tanks (1948)
Miners Above Ground
Mining Review: 1st Year (1947-48)