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Remembered Today:

Coal mining in the First World War


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Trying to research - basically just widen my knowledge than 'coal consumption probably increased' - regarding coal mining in the First World War, especially the North East coalfield. Can anyone recommend any sources or just general information about coal mining in the UK 1914-18?




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Have you seen this earlier thread

There are a number of links including one to the National Coal Mining Museum (post10).  Though their library catalogue is rather sparse on the 'First World War'.


Your question is very broad as there are so many issues, e.g. recruitment to the mines, recruitment of miners to the Army,  unions and labour relations, i.e. strikes. The National Archives hold a number of primary source documents related to coal mining.


Newspapers and Hansard are good online sources for the disputes and working conditions.

As you mention there are issues of production and around distribution, not least given your area of interest the increase in rail traffic transporting Welsh 'steam coal' to the Navy at Scapa Flow as a consequence of U-boat attacks in coastal waters.


Local record offices have some information, e.g. Durham


One book specifically dealing with the industry in the war is here

I've not read it.

The author was a mining engineer from Durham who held senior positions in the government relating to the industry.

I don't know of a more recent study, though the topic is often discussed in the context of the economic and social history of the Home Front.


Although not directly related to mining this recent  article in the Journal of Canadian Military History discusses the strategic importance of coal to the Allied war effort.


Finally, there is this bibliography  which again seems very light on the Great War.





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One of the best references to the coalfield mining industry statistics is the Colliery Year Book and Coal Trades Directory which would appear to have been published annually before nationalisation.I would think also that the NCB would have published something similar, post 1948.


It was derived from the Annual "Mineral Statistics" of the Geological Society of Great Britain,the Annual Reports of HM Inspector of Mines and of the Secretary for Mines, and the "Board of Trade Journal"


The 1944 publication gives the output of each coalfield,manpower,salable price of coal,safety and other interesting returns from 1876 to 1938.


The 1944 publication...twenty second year of publication..price one guinea net......every colliery is covered, the ownership of collieries and mining companies with directors listed,underground and surface manpower,type of haulage system and electrical supply....related mining regulations are listed which were effective from the turn of the century.Statistics on deaths in the mines,underground and surface with colliery disasters are also listed....accidents reported as statistics in a form what is recognised now as the accident frequency rate...much quoted by safety practitioners.


Interesting to look at the returns....for instance clear dips in the coal output in 1921 which I think can be attributed to strikes resulting from a reduction in miners' pay and the envisaged reparations of coal from Germany and the 1926 general strike......a very slight fall in output from 1917,followed by 1918,possibly due to the emerging use of fuel oil and the decline in exports from the South Wales and Monmouthshire coalfield during the war.


Might be difficult to locate the publication but The Board of Trade journal might have been referenced with British coal mining articles on the internet.

Edited by Frank_East
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