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Mining Review 7/12: Tamworth Gala (1954)


Main image of Mining Review 7/12: Tamworth Gala (1954)
Mining Review 7th Year No. 12 - Staffordshire - Tamworth Gala
August 1954
35mm, black and white, 2 mins
DirectorStanley Goulder
Production CompanyData Film Productions
SponsorNational Coal Board
PhotographyJohn Reid, Ken Reeves

Events and speeches at the first Tamworth Miners' Gala, in Staffordshire.

Show full synopsis

This Mining Review item documents the first Tamworth Miners' Gala, held on Saturday 12 June 1954 in what the commentator acknowledges was less than perfect weather. But this did nothing to dampen spirits, and the footage proves that it was extremely well attended. It also crams an impressive amount of coverage into just over two minutes: we are shown brass band marches, speeches, baby contests, amateur sporting tournaments, a funfair and the crowning of the 'Coal Queen' (sixteen-year-old Alice Bowen).

Of the high-profile appearances, Arthur Horner (1894-1968) was the General Secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers, a post he held from 1946 to 1959, when he reached retirement age. He had been heavily involved in miners' political issues since the General Strike of 1926, and was also one of the founders of the Communist Party of Great Britain, though he was also a prominent champion of social democratic principles.

James Griffiths (1890-1975) had an even more distinguished career. A miner from the age of 13, he was active in Labour Party politics from his late teens, eventually becoming Labour MP for Llanelli in 1936. After Clement Attlee's landslide victory in 1945, he was made Minister for National Insurance and is regarded as one of the key architects of the postwar welfare state. At the time of the Tamworth gala he was on the opposition benches, but he would later serve as the first Secretary of State for Wales in Harold Wilson's government of 1964.

National Coal Board records reveal that the shooting budget for this item was 59 pounds, 11 shillings and ninepence.

Michael Brooke

*This film can also be viewed via the BFI's YouTube channel.

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