British Universities Film & Video Council

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Coal and Soap


Series Name
Mining Review 18th Year


Issue No.
Date Released
Mar 1965
Stories in this Issue:
  1. 1Computers
  2. 2Coal and Soap
  3. 3'By the Light of Knowledge ...'


Story No. within this Issue
2 / 3
NoS synopsis: Bestwood Colliery, Nottingham, supplying coal to a neighbouring soap works, which supplies soap, in return, to the pithead baths
NCB Commentary - In this household the washing-up must wait, because high on the list of life’s pleasures is a hot bath with a cake of soap.
And speaking of soap, Bestwood Colliery in Nottingham has a very good customer right on its doorstep.
7,000-tons of coal a year are delivered to this soap works - it’s a case of black making white.
Coal from the rich Nottinhamshire seams - coal to raise steam to - make soap.
The machinery is the most advanced of its type in the world - cutting the time for preparing the ingredients of soap from nearly 4-days to 12-minutes.
Tallow, the soap-makers’ name for the animal fats and palm kernel oil are mixed together.
Add caustic soda, and the result is soap, with glycerine as a valuable by-product. That the basic formula.
But even with the latest machinery, the recipe is essentially the same.
After drying the soap is fed into a noodler - a sort of large mincing machine.
Colour is added - and then the important touch which makes soap smell nice - perfume.
More mixing and the soap appears as a long bar and is cut into tablet size.
This stamping machine produces 240 rectangular pieces of soap every minute.
Eagle eyes make sure that only perfect tablets pass inspection.
Some brands are wrapped in foil or paper - and after packing they’re on their way to the domestic market.
After a hard day’s housework, there’s nothing more relaxing than a bath - with plenty of soap to wash away tiredness.
And some of it goes back to Bestwood Colliery, almost next door. Soap for the men who got the coal that raised the steam to make the soap.
Industry and manufacture; Mining; Fuels
England; Nottingham
Written sources
British Film Institute Databases
Films on Coal Catalogue   1969, p.50
Film User   Vol.19 No.230 December 1965, p719.
The National Archives COAL 32   /13 Scripts for Mining Review, 1960-1963
National Coal Board
Production Co.
National Coal Board Film Unit

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