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Mining Review 17/7: End of the Road (1964)


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 has been reproduced in full:

Queen's Park coal depot on a winter morning. Darkie's day starts early. So does Kitty's. They're not alone. A few miles away, Joe and Storm are getting ready for their day's work. Although Joe and Darkie have never met, they wouldn't be strangers if they did. They've both done the same work all their lives: delivering coal with a horse and cart.

There's a lot to do in the morning: a horse needs a good deal more attention than a lorry. By the time Joe and Storm leave the stable, the office workers across the way have just come to work. It's always been like this, as long as the two have been together.

Everybody helps load up, whether they're lorrymen or horse and cart roundsmen. When the last bag is on, Joe can get away.

Darkie has worked with horses nearly all his life. He remembers the time when all coal was delivered by horse and cart. But things have changed, and they'll go on changing. Soon Darkie and Kitty will have left the street scene for good. Newer ways of delivering coal to the customer are taking over. It's the same with Joe - each trip he makes is one nearer the last, and one nearer the day when Storm and Kitty can retire to green fields. Nostalgia's all very well, but it's damned hard work humping sacks of coal.

A lot of the houses are old and inconvenient, and the coal man still has to carry hundredweight sacks on his back, through the house and into the back yard. There are three rounds a day, and over twenty calls to be made. So their day goes on.

And when it's finished, there's still the horse to be settled for the night. Then, and only then, a chance to relax.