Ex-Sergeant Jack Ford returns home to Gallowshields on Tyneside after the end of World War One. It is the time of economic depression and Jack finds his home gripped by decline and unemployment. Jack soon falls in with the Seaton family and is determined to make his mark on the world. Jack is confronted by his past when he sees an old army colleague in the street suffering from shell shock. When Bella's friend Connie dies Bella takes in her young son Harry. The child proves to be a handful for the Seatons. Everyone is feeling the effects of the strike at the pit except Jack who seems to have money to spare. Jack makes the acquaintance of Sir Horatio Manners and seizes his opportunity, whilst Tom takes a job which upsets the family. A Pitman's house and no coal. Bill Seatons takes drastic action to find his own coal.