From the Ashington Advertiser Friday 18 July 1958
(reproduced by permission)
Cash and happiness
£20 weekly income reasonable today, miners tell T.V.
Money was the main theme of the seven minute spot given to Ashington on the “Tonight” programme which was screened on Monday.
Bearded Fyffe Robertson cross-examined miners and their wives about earnings, the sharing of same between husband and wife, and whether prosperity had given them happiness.
Pit scenes and street scenes appeared fleetingly on the television screen and the interviews introduced local men and women talking in the main about money.
The White House Club figured prominently, with secretary Mr. G. Hall telling millions of viewers about the expenditure of £15,000 on making an old-fashioned miners’ club into a luxury meeting place. He talked of sales at the £550 a week level.
“This looks as if there is a good deal of money about in Ashington,” commented the B.B.C. reporter with the beard.
The camera then switched to a couple of men settled in a corner for a quiet drink.
They also were encouraged to talk about money. They said miners as a whole were better off. They agreed that some wages were “pretty high” but “not too high for the cost of living”. They talked of wages at the £20 a week level as reasonable for the times, but described the famous £45 a week figure as an isolated and exceptional case with no relation to the general level of earnings.
Asked if more money had brought more happiness, they said there was more happiness because they now had better clothes and television.
“The womenfolk get a lot of things for the home they could not get before, and in the old days they were not happy because they were scraping to make ends meet,” one of them declared.
They Dare Not
Inevitably a miner was asked the age-old question: “How much do you earn?” The reply was: “I dare not tell you that.”
“You don’t want your wife to know,” suggested the interviewer cheerfully.
The same point cropped up in an interview with a miner in a back street. He was asked why miners always tended to quote low wages, and he replied: “Because he does not want his wife to know.”
“I wonder what miners’ wives have to say to that?” quipped the bearded interviewer.
The camera then switched to a miner’s wife who expressed herself satisfied with the set-up. She was content as long as there was sufficient for the home. As to the rest she was not over curious.
“He likes a drink and a little bit of a gamble, but I have always had sufficient for the home,” she explained.
Better Than Women
One character, with hands in pockets, bluntly told the world that he never told his wife the amount he earned, claimed that he gave her sufficient money for the home, and that he considered the man was a better saver than the woman.
He gave a shaking to the cosy idea of the heroic thrifty little housewife as the shrewd Chancellor of the Home Exchequer, looking after the feckless husband’s money.
Into the breach stepped another miner’s wife with a story of a wage of £9 15s. a week to balance the big figures which were being freely bandied about.
She explained that she also went out to work to help pay for a £2,000 house.
The following N.C.B. official average earnings were thrown in by the announcer: Face workers, £18-12-10d.; All underground workers, £17-0-10d.; All workers, £13-6-10d.
And Why Not?
There were brief shots of a well-filled shop, of a well equipped house, and of a back street with one or two parked cars standing about.
And the man with the beard ended the little portrait of Ashington disarmingly with this general comment:
“If miners want to spend some of their money on comfortable clubs why shouldn’t they, and if he wants a car why shouldn’t he have one?”