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


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 reproduced here in full:

Our old friend the coal horse is disappearing. Like the haulage pony, he is being mechanised. You can't afford to waste it. Even in pieces it's worth £4.10.7d.

Let's break up the price and see what it's made of. It mounts up all the way from the coal seam to your shed in London. Distributing the coal accounts for one quarter of the price. Let's trace it backwards. One fifth of the price goes in rail charges. Which leaves us with just over half the price, which is what the Coal Board sells it for.

Break it down into pieces. Into 189 threepenny pieces. 122 of these go on wages to the men who get the coal. All the men and women at the collieries. Except the managers, clerks and administrative staff, who take another six. 12 go to support the roof. 16 more go to carry out repairs and maintain stores and provide explosives and spares. 12 go in power to keep the collieries running. Six more in depreciation and in meeting the cost of new plant. Six to the people who provided the money for the collieries before the Board took over. Seven for general expenses. One threepenny bit for the national and divisional headquarters and all the activities they house.

This leaves a small profit. As the Coal Board's annual report for 1948 shows, this is increased by the sale of coke and its by-products.