Introduction to The Happy Lands Learning Resources

The section of the website is dedicated allowing individuals to begin to think about, discuss and evaluate the film The Happy Lands and later on, study and explore the film in more depth. You will find here a wide variety of resources including images, videos and study units.


About the Film

“It is a conflict which, if it is fought out to a conclusion can only end in the overthrow of parliamentary government or its decisive victory.”- Winston Churchill, Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer

1926 saw the first and only General Strike in British history: called by the Trade Union Congress, 1.7 million people participated, closing mines, transport, newspapers, docks and power stations. For nine days, not a wheel turned nor a light shone without the permission of the workers. It was a show of might like never before, a watershed moment that shaped the evolution of social justice and workers’ rights. The Happy Lands presents the human face of this historic moment, featuring first-hand accounts and testimonies of those who live in Fife, told in their own voices. Based on extensive research led by Robert Rae, with the National Mining Museum Scotland and the Fife Mining Heritage Group, the film draws on the memories, stories, resources and research contributed by more than 100 local Fife people, The Happy Lands is a compelling study of a heroic period that must never be forgotten.
The film has been screened as part of National Schools Film Week in London and Edinburgh, with a view to developing relationships with partners in the education sector, and Fife schools are developing Educational Material and the film now features as part of Scottish Curriculum for Excellence.




Extra Stills and Videos from The Happy Lands Set

A look into the journey of a mining community as they are pushed inevitably towards a labour conflict.


Watch the Trailer

Renting/ Buying the film – Special promos and Edu packages


Unit Contents And Download Links

Introductory Unit compiled by W Hershaw

Involves pupils in studying an opening eight minute sequence from the film in order to take notes, analyse and evaluate in order to understand and appreciate the film’s key themes.
Extract from film;
Preparatory tasks
Download Unit

The Raws Meeting compiled by W Hershaw

Harry Lauder/Protest March compiled by W Hershaw


A Tale of Two Courtrooms compiled by W Hershaw

Critical Evaluation Task
background notes;
2 extracts from filmscript;
group talk/working in pairs;
preparatory tasks and questions;
critical evaluation task
Download Unit

Textual Analysis – Mining Poetry compiled by William Hershaw

Creation and Production – Writing compiled by W Hershaw


Creation and Production – Talk compiled by L Paton

Teacher/Pupil Notes;
Preliminary listening/group talk
How to take notes;
How to practise talks;
How to deliver a solo talk;
Solo talk/Individual presentation;
Group talk activities; compiled by W Hershaw
Supplementary talk tasks
Download Unit

Life In A Scottish Mining Community compiled by J Campbell

Pupil Skill Sheets – Peer Assessments compiled by W Hershaw



In 2010 the world held its breath as 33 Chilean miners were rescued, following 69 days trapped underground. Since August 2012 over 75,000 miners have gone on strike in South Africa, demanding improvements to their rights and pay, with violent unrest resulting in more than 50 deaths. The incidents are a stark reminder of the on-going human rights struggles of those working in the mining industry around the world today. The cause has garnered high profile champions including Leonardo Di Caprio, star of 2006’s Blood Diamond, the account of how conflicts are funded by the mining of diamonds and other minerals, and Bono, who has met with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to demand stricter rules in the international mining trade.
The Happy Lands portrays the harsh, gritty day-to-day reality for miners in uncompromising terms, with an intimate portrait of a way of life faced by millions across the globe in 2012



Set against magnificent Scottish landscapes and in traditional mining towns and villages, and spoken in the rich and diverse Scot’s language as spoken in Fife, The Happy Lands reflects a dignified, genuine image of a rich Scottish cultural heritage.

The Happy Lands focuses on the traditional mining communities of Fife, several of those involved in
making the film have first-hand experience of the tensions and huge social upheaval of the 1984/85 miners’ strike: lending the film an added aura of authenticity.

The Happy Lands maps the events that laid the foundation of Scotland’s identification with socialism and internationalism and asks questions which many Scots feel aren’t being asked within the current Yes / No campaign.

Is the desire for social justice, as captured in the film, driving change or is it national pride or patriotism – or merely the politicians desire for power?

Is the perception of Scotland as a socialist country still meaningful today or has the perception of socialism within Scotland changed so dramatically since 1926 as to render it meaningless?

The enduring challenge of poverty is pervasive throughout the film. If this is still a major issues Scotland has to tackle, or as Professor Tom Devine commented, is the current debate operating in a moral vacuum in which Scotland’s pervasive poverty and inequality are rarely mentioned?

With the worlds media fascinated by the “End of Empire” days represented by the possible break-up of the United Kingdom, there is likely to be international media interest in the film, as evidenced at its recent screening at the China Film Museum in Beijing where large enthusiastic audiences commented upon its relevance to both China today and to the Independence debate.

With millions around the world claiming Scottish ancestry, and remarkably strong diaspora groups thriving in countries such as America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, The Happy Lands will find affinities across the globe.