Film ID:
NEFA 10905



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An edition of the Tyne Tees Television programme A World of My Own first broadcast on 3 January 1969 in which the Easington MP Emanuel ‘Manny’ Shinwell reflects on his 35 years career in politics as he prepares for retirement and travels around his County Durham constituency.  

The documentary opens with a Manny Shinwell piece to camera in front of Easington Colliery pithead, County Durham, where he talks about his lack of formal education, his work amongst the dockers in Glasgow, the seamen in South Shields, and the miners in Easington and Blackhall, in Horden and in Southend.

He gets into the back of a Vauxhall car with his colleague driving, a woman holding a baby peering over her back wall. They drive off and Shinwell looks out as they travel down a high street with big Co-operative and Woolworth stores, probably Easington. Two huge pylons straddle the road as the car heads out of town. General misty view of the line of pylons leading to Easington Colliery in the landscape. The car passes villages and a sign to Easington Colliery. Shinwell and his colleague get out at Easington Infants School in Seaside Lane (opened in 1915), Easington, which has served as a polling station for many local elections that Shinwell has won. Jeff’s driven him to every one since the Second World War. Shinwell talks about the past elections, but his colleague wasn’t there for the 1935 election. British Pathé newsreel footage of the schoolyard crowded with cheering people in 1935 after Shinwell defeated the Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald at Seaham in the general election. Shinwell is carried on the shoulders of the people.

He sits together in a garden to discuss the political past with a former colleague who says he thought MacDonald was a great orator, talks about the influence of television on politics and the loss of the personal touch.

Shinwell walks around a colliery yard, the pit recently closed (Craghead?), and talks to miners’ wives in the village about what their husbands are doing now. In voice-over, Shinwell talks about his achievements including nationalisation of the coal industry in 1946.

Shinwell sits with another colleague who talks about the past socialist ideals of the Independent Labour Party, the poor conditions living in a County Durham pit village when he worked as a miner 40 years ago. He went down the pit in 1905, working for a pittance. Shinwell asks what he thinks about the nationalisation of the mines, since a lot of pits have closed down. He says he would have closed them long ago because it was ‘never intended that a man should get his living underground’. He says men are still getting killed down the mines. As long as you have pits, you will have accidents.

At the Durham Miners’ Gala, the Easington Lodge banner, draped in black cloth, is held amongst the crowd as they pause before the County Hotel to hear the Gresford played by brass band. In voice-over, Shinwell says the event was overshadowed by the death of miner Robert (Billy) Challoner in July that year, killed by a fall of stone while moving a stage loader at Easington Colliery. Shinwell stands in the crowd listening to the sad music. The procession continues. Shinwell chats to a colleague in the crowd. A group of young men and women dance down the street, arms linked. Harold Wilson and other special guests stand on the balcony of the County Hotel watching the parade, filmed by a TV cameraman.

Prime Minister Harold Wilson makes his speech at the Old Racecourse. Shinwell smokes his pipe in the crowd, smiling. A huge crowd listens to the speeches, seated behind a rope barrier manned by policemen. He claps after the speech. In voice-over, he muses that fine words are nothing if you don’t have a job to go to the following week. Harold and Mary Wilson wave to the crowd from the platform.

Coal buckets from Easington colliery move along an aerial ropeway, tipping coal waste on the foreshore. A bucket tips its load in the North Sea. A father and his son are fishing further up the beach. Shinwell hates the practice and says whenthe collieries were forced to clear up the beaches, they started dumping it in the sea. It is then washed up onto the beach by the tide. As a result all the sand has disappeared and left the beach blackened. He thinks that a beautiful part of the Durham coastline has been spoilt. A dumper truck shifts other mining waste down the side of the cliff.

Shinwell still thinks Durham County is beautiful. Four lads hike down a trail in the countryside. General views of a picturesque village.

Shinwell stands on the cliff top at Crimdon Dene looking over the busy beach towards Tees mouth and the Hartlepool power station in the far distance. Crimdon Dene was purchased by the council despite opposition to the idea of creating a ‘workers’ playground’.  The council rate was increased. Shinwell says he supported the move and became unpopular because of this. A family heads from the caravan park at Crimdon Dene past the railway viaduct. Children play ball games at the camp. Children head down to the beach. Families settle onto the sand dunes, one woman in a bikini and wearing a bouffant hairstyle.  Shinwell says that now it’s turned out to be one of the most popular workers’ seaside resorts in the country. Lots of people paddle in the sea in the sunshine, make sandcastles, bury each other in the sand and fly kites. Holidaymakers head to the self-service cafeteria to eat. Children and their parents have fun at the fairground, riding on the dodgems and waltzer. Two boys and a pet dog head back to their caravan at the huge site.

Shinwell talks to the general manager, Mr Reynolds, who says it’s probably the fourth largest caravan site in the country with around 1300 caravans. Children play a skipping game, lounge on the grass reading, play cricket. A woman hoes the soil around her caravan. A woman relaxes in a deckchair and strokes her pet dog. The manager says that now the resort contributes to the rates, rather than being a burden on rate payers.

General view of a colliery beside a slag heap, and a derelict Miners Hall. A group of miners are relaxing together outside an old tin hut. General view down the back road of the village. Shinwell says that industrialists from the south were not attracted by old villages, particularly when there was too much squalor. Washing lines are hung across a patch of wasteland, the mine shaft pithead in the background. Shinwell talks about the mining industry contracting, that he expected a new era of prosperity for the industry instead of which it’s all being closed down. A rag and bone cart drives by.

A modern sign for Peterlee stands outside the new town. Various shots record the modern buildings in the town, including some cantilevered houses. Children walk along paths in the town leading down to the concrete Apollo Pavilion, Oakerside Drive, (also known as Pasmore Pavilion), public art (part brutalist architecture, part Constructivist sculpture) that was designed by Victor Pasmore and completed in 1969. General view of Our Lady of the Rosary (RC) church on West Way. A young girl, hair in bunches, walks on the Apolllo Pavilion, standing at the eastern end of a small lake. General view of the Pavilion with the Pasmore abstract mural visible on one wall. Shinwell recalls the decision to make the new town of Peterlee, which ‘met with harsh criticism all over the area’, mainly as they feared it would attract all the industries. A lorry passes the Dewhirst factory outlet. Crudens, who built houses in the town, is also located on the industrial estate.  Groups of women come out of Dewhirst after their shift. A woman looks out over the new town from the balcony of her home.

Shinwell looks out from a pedestrian walkway in Peterlee’s busy shopping centre. He then conducts a vox pops with different people about how they like living in Peterlee. There are differing opinions. He is driven around some of the earlier housing in Peterlee, more conventional than those designed by Pasmore, and into the headquarters of Peterlee Development Corporation at Shotton Hall. He speaks to the General Manager, Peter Williams, about some of the grievances of the people of Peterlee.

Various shots of workers follow: men working in engineering workshops, women on industrial Singer sewing machines and on ironing boards working in the clothing industry. Miners walk in a line down a shaft and work on a seam underground. In the Walkers crisps factory in Peterlee, women work on both a conveyor belt quality checking individual crisps as they pass and on the packing production line.

In a local pub, or working man’s club, men and women have a drink, smoke, chat and play dominoes. Shinwell chats to a group of ex-miners at the club. They talk about the time they asked the Prime Minister to come and open the club, he couldn’t come and George Brown came instead. They joke about the plaque to Brown (the British Labour politician who served as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party from 1960 to 1970) having been moved to the foyer, demoted. Shinwell tells stories about speaking in Westminster, about being distracted from thinking up a speech because of mini-skirted women on the London tube. One of the men asks him why he is retiring from being MP for Easington. He says that at his time of life, 85, one is looking for pastures new.

General view of Easington colliery and the rows of terraced houses. Shinwell piece to camera explaining that he’s decided not to stand at the next general election. He thinks he should leave the job for someone else to do. He says that he has become something of a ‘household word’ in the area – Wheatley Hill, Thornley, South Heddon, Peterlee, Blackhall and the rest. He says he will always remember with affection the people in the Easington constituency, and he won’t abandon his political activity. He puffs on his pipe as he looks with affection at the village of Easington.

General views of some of the places he has served as MP follows including Peterlee, Crimdon Dene and Easington.

[During Clement Attlee’s Labour government Shinwell served as minister of fuel and power (1945–47), beginning the nationalization of British mines and giving miners a five-day workweek; he later served as Attlee’s minister of defence (1950-51). During Harold Wilson’s 1964-70 Labour administration, Shinwell, in his 80s, was three times elected chairman of the parliamentary Labour Party. Though he strenuously enforced party discipline in support of Wilson, he bitterly fought British membership in the European Economic Community. Shinwell was made a life peer in 1970 and served actively in the House of Lords, where beginning in 1982 he sat with the independents, though remaining a Labourite, in protest against what he considered left-wing militancy. He continued to serve in Parliament until his death, at the age of 101.]