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This programme looks at the fundamental changes which have occurred in the coal mining industry in Britain particularly during the years 1950 to 1970. The change from very little to almost complete... mechanisation was a response to the economic pressure from oil. Mr. Eric Skipsey, Science Staff Tutor in the Northern Region, uses film to show underground coal mining methods in the early 1950s when it was a back-breaking, labour-intensive industry, and in the 1970s when it had become capital-intense and the mines had now been equipped with modern cutting and loading machines, powered hydraulic roof supports, and television monitoring of conveyors. The decline in coal production, manpower and number of collieries is discussed. Mechanisation demands much detailed knowledge of hazards which may lie ahead, and surface exploratory drilling is done to forecast these and to prove the workability of reserves. George Armstrong, Chief Geologist for the National Coal Board, talks about the problems of assessing reserves, and comments on Britain's future coal fields. Professor Ian Gass concludes by comparing Britain's coal mining position with other parts of the world. In Australia opencast workings on a vast scale are shown. There are enormous reserves, and the coal can be mined at low costs. At some future date this coal, including transportation costs, is likely to be cheaper than British coal, and this could result in a further decline in British output.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Item code: S26-; 02; 1974
First transmission date: 16-02-1974
Published: 1974
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:24:15
Note: Open University course S26- Earth's physical resources
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Producer: Peter Clark
Contributors: George Armstrong; Ian Gass; Eric Skipsey
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Australian coal; British Coal 1950-1970; Exploratory drilling; Future coal fields; Production decline
Subject terms: Mechanization
Footage description: Ian Gass with a working model of a fully mechanised coal face. He explains how the coal is extracted from the face. Gass introduces Eric Skipsey. Eric Skipsey uses maps, diagrams and graphs to discuss the history of the coal industry in Britain from 1800 to present day. Shots of coal miners working during the 1950s. Commentary by Skipsey explains the method of working the face at that time. These were highly labour intensive. Shots of coal miners working in a mechanised mine today. Commentary by Skipsey explains the methods used to work the face. Shots of a modern colliery control centre. Skipsey explains its function. Skipsey gives some statistics for coal production in Britain from 1950 to 1970. He uses graphs which show output, percentage of mechanised output, manpower and colliery numbers. Shots of a village near an abandoned mine. Most of the houses are empty. Skipsey discusses the effects of a reduction of collieries and manpower on the local community. Skipsey discusses the effects of increased mechanisation at the coal face on coal reserves. Some coal deposits are not suitable for mechanised mining. Skipsey with a plan of Betshanger Pit in Kent. The plan indicates the areas of future reserves which are suitable for mechanised mining. Skipsey explains how these reserves are surveyed. Shots of bore holes being drilled during a coal reserve survey. Commentary by Skipsey, explains what is happening. Shots of coal samples being brought to the surface and examined. Skipsey introduces George Armstrong. George Armstrong, National Coal Board Chief Geologist, explains how coal reserves are assessed. He concentrates on describing the economic constraints. Armstrong draws a graph to illustrate his discussion. He then uses a map of Britain showing coal fields to discuss ways in which proved reserves can be increased. Ian Gass compares methods of coal extraction in Britain with that in other countries. Shots of coal being mined in Australia using earth moving equipment to lay bare the coal which is near the surface. Gass continues his discussion. He looks at the economics of importing coal from Australia and America. Shots of a petroleum super tanker. Commentary discusses possible use of ships like these for bulk coal transport. Gass continues his discussion. Credits over shots of a coal face being worked mechanically.
Master spool number: 6HT/70971
Production number: 00525_1002
Videofinder number: 739
Available to public: no