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Mining Review 2/11: Paying For It (1949)


Main image of Mining Review 2/11: Paying For It (1949)
Mining Review 2nd Year No. 11: Paying For It
July 1949
35mm, black and white, 3 mins
DirectorPeter Pickering
Production CompanyData Film Productions
SponsorNational Coal Board
PhotographyJames Ritchie
 Ron Bicker

A breakdown of the price of coal, showing who gets what along the entire production and distribution chain.

Show full synopsis

The National Coal Board's second annual report included a section breaking down the cost of coal, and this Mining Review item sought to explain its main points in easily digestible form, with a mixture of lighthearted dramatisation and animated facts and figures.

As a careless coal delivery man spills his load on a housewife's doorstep, the film zooms in to the scattered pieces and explains that they're worth nearly five pounds. The film then resorts to one of the oldest special effects in the book, as the action is reversed so that the coal leaps back into the bag and the deliveryman takes it back to the depot - while the narrator explains exactly where the four pounds, ten shillings and sevenpence goes.

Distribution to the housewife amounts to 25% of the price, while a further 20% goes in rail charges, to transport the coal from the mine to the depot. So of that £4 10s 7d, only 55% actually goes to the Coal Board. This remaining sum is broken down further into 189 threepenny pieces, which gradually disappear as they're allocated to the miners, support staff, equipment and power. The film accompanies these with brief illustrative shots, including a poster campaign that reveals that miners were exempt from national service. Finally, the Coal Board is left with a small profit, symbolically depicted as an egg in a nest to create the impression that it's going to be invested wisely.

Given that this item is about accounting, it seems appropriate to note that this item cost £93 10s and was filmed on 24th May 1949.

Michael Brooke

*This film is included in the BFI DVD compilation 'Land of Promise: The British Documentary Movement 1930-1950'.

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
Complete item (2:37)
Complete newsreel (9:25)
Mining Review 2/11: A Star Drops In (1949)
Mining Review 2/11: Safety First (1949)
Mining Review: 2nd Year (1948-49)