The end of coal mining in Britain
The Economist marks the end of one of Britain’s greatest industries now that some of the last remaining coal mines are set to close:
At their peak, shortly before the first world war, the deep mines of Yorkshire, Durham, South Wales and other sedimentary places, engines of the Industrial Revolution, employed over a million men and boys. They were the foundation of the modern British economy, “a sort of caryatid”, wrote George Orwell, “upon whose shoulders nearly everything that is not grimy is supported”.
But mining has ever since been in decline, marked by sudden bursts of pit closure more divisive, and calamitous for the communities affected, than any other aspect of Britain’s deindustrialisation. Twenty-three pits closed in 1985, after the year-long miners’ strike and the industry’s subsequent privatisation; 16 in 1989; and in 1991 another 14.
Now, only three deep mines remain, employing 2,000 miners, including 436 at Hatfield, close to Doncaster. And in the next few months they too will close.