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Mining Review 4/6: Mass Consultation (1951)


Main image of Mining Review 4/6: Mass Consultation (1951)
Mining Review 4th Year No. 6: Mass Consultation
February 1951
35mm, black and white, 2 mins
DirectorGrahame Tharp
Production CompanyData Film Productions
SponsorNational Coal Board
PhotographyRon Bicker, John Gunn

A mass X-ray campaign in Wales's Little Rhondda Valley.

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This Mining Review item documents an ambitious project to X-ray the entire population of the Rhondda Fach (Little Rhondda) valley in South Wales. In 1950, when the survey took place, the area had already been established as a major site of important medical research for some fourteen years, ever since the Medical Research Council was asked to investigate pulmonary disease among miners, and there was an unusually high incidence of the problem in South Wales.

The 1950 project sought to gather even more extensive data, by X-raying miners and the people they lived alongside, including their children. After an extensive public awareness campaign, two teams X-rayed as many people as possible: one team handled the miners coming off their shift, and the other dealt with everyone else. The miners were given more attention (not least in the use of larger X-ray films), because they were more likely to be susceptible to problems, but everyone's results were scrutinised by three doctors apiece.

The Little Rhondda data would prove invaluable in determining the causes of TB and diseases such as pneumoconiosis. Major advances had been made in the immediate postwar period, notably the introduction of streptomycin and BCG immunisation, and better dust control in the mines themselves, but the data from this survey, and a follow-up conducted in 1953 were crucial to scientists' understanding of the cause, treatment and prevention of these illnesses. Samples of the population were subsequently re-examined six, twenty and thirty years later to establish long-term effects.

This Mining Review item was originally screened in February 1951, and reissued in 1956 as part of its 'Science Special' compilation. Considerably more information about the project is provided by the 1969 film Research in the Rhondda (d. Harley Jones).

Michael Brooke

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
Complete item (2:18)
Mining Review Science Special (1956)
Research in the Rhondda (1969)
National Coal Board Film Unit (1952-84)
Mining Review (1947-83)
Mining Review: 4th Year (1950-51)