Sam Wilson’s mother Dora has left her husband and taken Sam back with her to her hometown of Skellerton, a Yorkshire mining village.
Sam and his mother arrive in Skellerton and try to settle in with their relatives.
The Labour Exchange is looking for Sam’s mother. Sam is taken on a tour of the local pit by his grandfather.
Sam is bullied at school. Sam’s mother starts a new relationship with Alan. Sam doesn’t like this and runs away.
Sam is found.
Sam is taken on a day out to the seaside.
Sam’s mother and new partner set up a family home.
Sam’s family come under pressure from the disapproving locals.
Sam discovers a book written by his father. The pit workers are given notice.
Sam's mother falls pregnant. Sam’s father sends a letter asking for money to be sent to him so that he can come home from Canada.
Dora passes away in hospital giving birth to a son, Leslie. Alan, devastated, decides to go south to look for work, leaving his mother to care for the baby. Sam’s uncle George goes with him.
Frank is worried about Sam’s education and his grandfather wants to send him to a charity boarding school. Alan and George are disillusioned in the south and George returns home.
Sam is at boarding school, hating it and longing to go home, but can’t, because of a diphtheria outbreak in Skellerton. After a fight at the school, he runs away and walks the fifty miles home.