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Church Ladies Enthralled By Coal Miners

January 5, 2009 Leave a comment

Yesterday I had the privilege of giving a presentation to twenty two ladies of a local church concerning  some economic and social aspects of coal mining. This was my third such talk; the previous ones had been at Surrey University and the University of the Third Age.

I emphasised the importance of coal to the Industrial Revolution and contrasted the advantages of coal over wind power and water. Wind power was spasmodic and unreliable; water storage was expensive and businessmen had the problem of having to locate to fast flowing streams that were often in remote locations. I put the view that railways created a double demand for coal. It was needed for smelting the iron used in railway construction and for the running of locomotives. Industry demanded more and more coal as steam power  and mechanization become more general between 1830 -1850. There was also increasing domestic consumption. Demand was met by working existing mines more deeply and extensively. In addition new mines were created and some abandoned ones were reactivated. The coal industry demanded and got more labour and capital.

Coal Production in Great Britain – expressed in millions of tons:

1700   2.50

1800  10.00

1830  23.00

1856   65.00

1913  285.00

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