Friday 29 June 2012

Old King Coal

As we lurch into yet another financial crisis or series of crises and pursue our current obsessions  on climate, oil, nuclear, wind turbines and the rest we forget that coal is still around and much used about the globe.

In the UK there are only a few remnants left of our once large and crucial coal industry.  It is possible that there are now more mining museums than there are working pits.  For us the coal industry is history, emotive and real for some, just another heritage thing for others.

It had its interesting features.  A hazard in one area was that for any new developments there could be unknown old workings not far below ground.  So as soon as the foundations or buildings went up then they would soon go down into a big hole.

A particular menace was the bell shaped pits dug by the monks at local monasteries.  If one was found then it would be inevitable that you would have a cluster of them on your hands. 

The council’s informal policy was simple.  Quietly fill them with rubble, put a covering of soil on top and sell off the land for private housing.

With a hat tip to the Oil Drum, here is an article from the Peak Prosperity blog that tells us about coal and its use around the world and that it remains a primary resource of key and continuing importance.  More and more is being mined and used and there is a lot more to be had.

It is a substantial article but with plenty of graphs and certainly enough to make one wonder whether we know the half of what the future may have in store.

At the bottom you will need to click on the Part II “Coal is the fuel for a world in decline” for the short ending.  The final sentence is:


“It’s not surprising, therefore, that each time the global economy weakens and then rebounds, its hunger for coal advances more strongly.”


So our easy assumptions about much of the energy needs of the world and how they might be met on the basis of international agreements may be only a charade in the real productive world.  Coal, if not King, can still command a princely price.

The picture above is of the Hickleton Main Prize Band in the early years of the 20th Century.  This colliery was located at Thurnscoe in the Dearne Valley.  My lady’s grandfather died there in 1912 in an accident.  He lies in the Orgreave Cemetery in Sheffield.


  1. Come back smog - all is forgiven.

  2. I live at Lundhill, overlooking the "Alamo" so names like Hickleton, Thurnsco and the Dearne Valley are part of life here.

    Mining villages are now the abode of the call centre employees. For where the winding wheels stood there are now call centres that fill the valley.

    My father was a miner and his take was to tell me and my brother - If I catch you coming through the pit yard gates I will break both your f***ing legs. My dad had a way with words.

    For Mr Haart... Clean burn technology has been around for a long long time.