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Mining Review 2/12: Holiday Camp (1949)


Main image of Mining Review 2/12: Holiday Camp (1949)
Mining Review 2nd Year No. 12: Holiday Camp
August 1949
35mm, black and white, 2 mins
DirectorPatricia Spielman
Production CompanyData Film Productions
SponsorNational Coal Board
PhotographyJohn Reid
 Charles Smith

Durham miner Tom McDonough and his family goes on holiday to Filey Butlin's holiday camp.

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The post-war boom in seaside breaks was largely made possible by the expansion of holidays with pay. Tom McDonagh and his family of five visit Butlin's holiday camp in Filey, in the first story of this issue of Mining Review.

The director of this story, Patricia Spielman, wrote in a vivid letter to her boss of the tribulations she faced while filming, which involved a lecherous Entertainments Manager and uncooperative Redcoats:

[The public relations officer] sanctioned nothing himself but always handed my requests on to the Entertainment Manager, a lecherous bastard who again handed everything on the to redcoats... The redcoats wouldn't play either... they can't be blamed. They are all tame lunatics who love their work & who work very hard. Their adolescent tomfoolery is even more adolescent and tomfoolish than that of some of Data's staff!!

Even the miner's triplets, the stars of the item, couldn't be found when they were required:

In the coldest of winds & on the greyest of days we waited for Blackhall Colliery Band to arrive... We grabbed them & got a few shots of them... Quite impossible to keep them longer or indeed organise anything on a Saturday morning at Butlin's (Saturday is the day when everyone leaves & new people come in. The chaos is awful).

Spielman found it a disheartening experience and wrote that she felt 'quite out of my depth', attributing any success of the film to its cinematographer, John Reid. She appears to have abandoned her brief filmmaking career after this experience.

Ros Cranston

*This film is included in the BFI DVD compilation 'Portrait of a Miner: The National Coal Board Collection Volume 1'.

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