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Mining Review 10/11: Area Profile - Ashington (1957)


Main image of Mining Review 10/11: Area Profile - Ashington (1957)
Mining Review 10th Year No. 11: Northumberland - Area Profile: N & C No. 3 - Ashington Area
35mm, black and white, 4 mins
Production CompanyData Film Productions
SponsorNational Coal Board

The history of Ashington in Northumberland, the world's largest mining village.

Show full synopsis

A portrait of Ashington in Northumberland. The commentary claims that this is the biggest mining village in the world, with 30,000 inhabitants, the vast majority of whom are involved with or dependent upon the coal industry. The film briefly traces the coal-mining history of the area, which began in 1236 when the monks of Newminster Abbey picked seacoal that had washed up on the shore near Blyth.

Nine years earlier, in 'No Tipping Here' (1st Year No. 11), Mining Review looked at the way by-products of mining in Ashington were being used to help deal with coastal erosion. This film makes it clear how important the sea is to Ashington, as much of the output of the prosaically-named Number Three Area is retrieved from under the North Sea bed. The National Coal Board also has farming interests in the area, for the same reason: coal seams run beneath the fields. And the shots of steam trains also have a function beyond the merely picturesque: they're running on the colliery's own internal railway, used to transport miners to work, and coal to washeries and ports.

In other words, Ashington is an entire community dedicated to the retrieval and processing of coal - which inevitably meant that it was hit particularly hard by the miners' strike of 1984. Over the next few years, most of the deep pits would be shut down. Ashington Colliery itself was closed in 1988, leaving just Ellington Colliery operating until January 2005.

Michael Brooke

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Video Clips
Complete film (9:14)
Mining Review 1/11: No Tipping Here (1948)
Mining Review 10/11: Crock'n'Roll (1957)
Mining Review 10/11: Dedication (1957)
Mining Review 10/11: The Plodder Seam (1957)
Mining Review: 10th Year (1956-57)