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A positive history of coal?

PeteHall

Moderator
I wasn't sure if this should go in the books section, or the mining section, but settled on the latter, as it's the mining hive brain I'd like to pick today.

My 8 year old has been learning about coal at school today, resulting in most of his class marching around the playing field chanting "no more coal".
He didn't join in.

While I have no problem looking for cleaner energy sources, coal has been, and remains to this day, responsible for rising living standards of millions of people across the world. Following things back to their source, we are all reliant on coal, for many of the things we take for granted every day.

Working at Ferrybridge Power Station, I really felt part of something special, providing the energy that kept the country going.

Coal has an amazing history and it's a real shame that young people are now taught such a one-sided view of our history and economy.

So, can anyone recommend any decent books in the history of coal, suitable for a young reader (his reading age is allegedly 14), that focus on the huge benefits that it's brought to mankind?

Thanks in advance.
 

tomferry

Well-known member
I no you have said books but I would definitely recommend the Fred dibnah documentary’s . I have lots & lots of coal mining books , it’s tricky as I find them heavy reading , maybe look into Industrial Revolution books ? Mike Moore should be able to advise well .
 

Wayland Smith

Active member
I think your problem might be that many books will focus on the politics of Coal.
The evil Coal owners and labour struggles.
A sub-set will focus on the rather morbid disaster stories.
For a positive slant on Coal, possibly look for Coal Authority publicity or training material.
Also, Coal authority training films, some of which are on YouTube.
 

pwhole

Well-known member
IMG-20230413-WA0004.jpg
 
I'll have a delve over the next week or two but I suspect quite a lot of the more positives may link to the individuals who grasped quite early on what the latent power of coal had to offer.

An example perhaps;


There are many more from somewhat earlier such as Dud Dudley who was exploring coal/coke as an alternative to the shortage of wood, still a damaging problem in the UK and elsewhere, for smelting well before Darby. Huntingdon Beaumont who did pioneering work on railed coal haulage a long time before Trevithick and Stephenson, then there is lots about the growth of the canal system in part to shift coal, quite quaint that's now seen as something bucolic and green and a fine venue for gongoozlers.

Jim
 

shotlighter

Active member
If your lads reading age is around 14, then the best NCB book I can think of is "Coal - Technology For Britain's Future".
Despite the title, there's lots of history & occurrence of coal etc. Probably best to have a look at a copy first though if you can. I don't think I was reading similar stuff untill I was 10 or 11.
If you're local to Stoke your welcome to peruse my copy before buying one.
 

PeteHall

Moderator
If your lads reading age is around 14, then the best NCB book I can think of is "Coal - Technology For Britain's Future".
Despite the title, there's lots of history & occurrence of coal etc. Probably best to have a look at a copy first though if you can. I don't think I was reading similar stuff untill I was 10 or 11.
If you're local to Stoke your welcome to peruse my copy before buying one.
Thanks for the tip. For £2.89 from Amazon, I'll take a chance on that.

There's Black Gold by Jeremy Paxman.
ISBN:9780008128340 or ISBN:9780008128357 as an Ebook.
This also looks a good read, though possibly a bit heavy going for an 8 year old. Maybe one to stick on the shelf for him to find later.
 

amw

Member
Bristol (city) was a mining area a lot of younger Bristolian and incomers would sadly be unaware of. There is little left to show the history. A small statue near the cascade steps in the centre is all I know of and a few miners welfare buildings.

A few books on it one is :
CITY PIT, Memoirs of a Speedwell Miner, Moss, Fred.

From a personal prospective my Maternal great-grandfather was a collier in the Bristol and Somerset pits. He lived to a very old age I did get to know him. I do remember the blue scars on his hands.
 
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JRL

Member
I wasn't sure if this should go in the books section, or the mining section, but settled on the latter, as it's the mining hive brain I'd like to pick today.

My 8 year old has been learning about coal at school today, resulting in most of his class marching around the playing field chanting "no more coal".
He didn't join in.

While I have no problem looking for cleaner energy sources, coal has been, and remains to this day, responsible for rising living standards of millions of people across the world. Following things back to their source, we are all reliant on coal, for many of the things we take for granted every day.

Working at Ferrybridge Power Station, I really felt part of something special, providing the energy that kept the country going.

Coal has an amazing history and it's a real shame that young people are now taught such a one-sided view of our history and economy.

So, can anyone recommend any decent books in the history of coal, suitable for a young reader (his reading age is allegedly 14), that focus on the huge benefits that it's brought to mankind?

Thanks in advance.
Fossil Future by Alex Epstein.
 

Badlad

Administrator
Staff member
Have you thought of BBC Iplayer? There is a good documentary on BBC Four, Timeshift - when coal was king.
 

PeteHall

Moderator
Have you thought of BBC Iplayer? There is a good documentary on BBC Four, Timeshift - when coal was king.
I don't have a TV licence Badlad, so I'll have to pass on that suggestion, but perhaps they could be encouraged to show it at the school.
 

PeteHall

Moderator
Bristol (city) was a mining area a lot of younger Bristolian and incomers would sadly be unaware of. There is little left to show the history
Until you try building something and take a look at the coal mining records! Surprising how many developers are unaware!

From a personal prospective my Maternal great-grandfather was a collier in the Bristol and Somerset pits. He lived to a very old age I did get to know him. I do remember the blue scars on his hands.
Was that the side of the family from Coleford?

My maternal grandmother was also from Coleford, where her uncle died down the coal pit, but I don't know how much more of the family were in the industry. I should probably try to find out!
 
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amw

Member
Until you try building something and take a look at the coal mining records! Surprising how many developers are unaware!


Was that the side of the family from Coleford?

My maternal grandmother was also from Coleford, where her uncle died down the coal pit, but I don't know how much more of the family were in the industry. I should probably try to find out!
Yes, Coleford the family name was Steeds.
 
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