Film ID:
YFA 5854

JIM BULLOCK: MINER EXTRAORDINARY

1969

Visitor Tabs

Description

This is a fascinating portrait of former miner Jim Bullock at the time of his retirement as President of the British Association of Colliery Management in 1969, in extensive interviews with Austin Mitchell.  Bullock recounts his life and rise from working in Fryston coal mine to becoming pit manager and then a farmer and landowner, whilst remaining a socialist.  Made by Yorkshire Television, the programme was first broadcast on 22nd July, 1969.  

The film begins showing a landowner and his son, both carrying shotguns, accompanied by a dog as they set out to the lake on his land to shoot ducks.  The commentary states that 40 years previously the owner of the farm, Jim Bullock, was a miner.  Jim Bullock is seen with the pigs he breeds and then walks through his mansion with Austin Mitchell, and they stop to discuss the Latin motto on his tiles.

Title – Jim Bullock: Miner Extraordinary
Introduced by Austin Mitchell

The commentary by Austin Mitchell gives an overview of Jim Bullock’s life as there is archive footage of miners working underground.  This is followed by images of the village with the colliery in the background and children playing next to a coal heap.  The colliery is shown part demolished as Jim Bullock talks about the break-up of the community, “Destroying something that won’t ever be built again.”  He recounts how his father chose his wife, by asking her if she was spoken for, and with the reply, no, states that she is now.  The compromise for this was that he had to stop being a prize fighter and a drinker and become a Baptist.  Jim Bullock recounts some stories about Sir Charles Lowther, the former owner of Swillington Hall which Bullock now owns, and the attitude of his father to Lowther.  As Jim Bullock recounts his early life there is more archive film of miners, transporting the coal up on lifts, and miners themselves coming on and off shifts on the lifts.  He recounts the time when his brother was killed in an accident at the pit.  

Austin Mitchell then provides some historical background of the miners after the First World War and the 1926 strike, with the middle classes treating their scabbing as if it was a picnic, and with archive film of the owners.  Jim Bullock talks of the hardships and bitterness of the times, with stories of blacklegs.  He also recounts his attending Whitworth Technical College and becoming a manager, with power over the village.  Asked about how he was able to justify this, Bullock replies that he , “Cultivated the elasticity of conscience.”  He persuaded himself that he could speak better as a socialist from the position of being a manager than as a trade unionist.  Asked, “Do you like power?”, he replies, “Of course I do, don’t you?”.  

They then go on to discuss post-war nationalisation of the mines, with archive film of those involved.  Bullock states that those chosen to run the industry had no knowledge of it, and that the unions misused their power.  He tells of his clash with Joe Hall, President of the Yorkshire Miners Association, who described Bullock as being, “the only socialist pit manager.”  He then recounts briefly setting up the British Association of Colliery Management, before discussing in more detail his sponsoring a Welfare Club for the mining community, with archive photographs of the miners themselves building it in just 17 days.  The two of them walk around the now derelict Club, and the derelict site for what Bullock hoped would be a large sports stadium for the north.  Asked whether the failure of this project was because it was too ambitious, Bullock replies that without ambition nothing would get done.

End Credits:
Introduced by Austin Mitchell
Camera – Mustafa Hammuni
Sound Recording – Stan Ellison, David Millard
Dubbing Mixer – Brian Ranger
Programme Researchers – Isobel Norriter, Barbara Twigg
Film Researcher – Anne Jarvis
Written and Produced by Michael Deakin
Directed by Duncan Dallas 
Yorkshire Television