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


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

The commentary doubles as a synopsis, and is therefore reproduced in full:

This is Ashington, the biggest mining village in the world. 30,000 people live here, and most of them depend on mining for their livelihood.


From the bustling centre of 20th century Ashington, the story of coal-winning in Northumberland goes back to 1236, when the monks of Newminster Abbey, now ruined, picked seacoal washed up on the shore near Blyth.

Much of the output of Number Three area still comes from under the waters of the North Sea. This successful coal-winning area spreads its interest wide. Its collieries extend from the Scottish border in the north to the Wansbeck river in the south. The names of its pits are the sinews of Northumberland: Ashington, Shilbottle, Lynemouth, Linden, Ratcheugh, Woodhorn, Blackhall, Ellington, Whittle, Newbiggin, Broomhill, Stobswood, Stocksfield, Longhurst Drift.

The area is in business as a farmer, because under this farming land, coal is being won. The area runs its own internal railway because men have to be taken to their jobs, and because coal has to be taken to the washeries, and later to the ports.

What is the success of Number 3 area? Since 1947, output has been boosted over 40%. The means to achieve this rise are very much the same as in other key areas round the country. Reconstruction, mechanisation, a measure of automation, like the new automatic winder at Lynemouth Colliery, which winds coal without an engineman having to be in charge. Number 3 Area knows very well that the need for coal now.