Black Gold: The History of How Coal Made Britain

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Black Gold: The History of How Coal Made Britain

Black Gold: The History of How Coal Made Britain

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Fascinating , scathing comments on the major figures, esp the mine owners, MPS etc but also Unio leaders. It also seems, as I pretty much knew, that safety was very much compromised in many pits and on many occasions leading not only to the massive death tolls on major disasters, but also the more random times death and serious injury was inflicted on miners in ones and twos. Just the initial walk from shaft to coalface, much of it spent stooping, crouching or crawling, reduced him – a fit 32-year-old – to agony.

The authors intend, I think, to trouble their readers, but some of the ways in which their book troubled me were to do with their approach. Mum, look what they’ve done to your coal hole,’ says one character when she sees how the new owners of a former council house have adapted the cellar.

Few went underground if they had much choice in the matter and the most shocking revelation in this book is that the local authorities in Durham deliberately discouraged new industries in the area because they knew that young men would not become miners if they had any reasonable alternative. Some parts of the book were rather too political for my taste, but overall it was an interesting read.

I didn't know, for instance, that during WW2, some of the men who were conscripted were sent to work in the mines instead of being sent to fight. The second time, he correctly dates it to July 1984, but still repeats the anti-Thatcher propaganda line that she was referring to the miners in general. Much of this was inevitable, as railways shifted to diesel, and electricity generation moved to oil, gas and nuclear. The two greatest industrial strikes of the 20th century - both detailed here - were both about coal. Beynon and Hudson, however, are unsentimental about the lives of miners and sceptical of the notion that the nationalisation of the mines in 1947 produced a golden age for those who worked in them.He had never smoked in his life, but had worked down the pit since the age of 14; surviving the hard graft and toil and seeing his brother buried by a rock fall. The horrors of the early days in the pits comes over vividly and the various catastrophes that the workers had to endure, and that the owners walked away from with the tiniest slap on the wrists, is described in such a way as to make the reader sad and angry.

In summary, a very informative and worthwhile read, although the content is depressing and you may wish to read something light-hearted afterwards to try and clear the smog from your brain.It was a “place where you slept and ate, visited the doctor, fell in love, had your children and entertained yourself” … One day soon, Paxman says, we may forget it was ever there. And then we come to the most dreadful woman in Britain's political history and her brutal vindictive and duplicitous behaviour is starkly brought into the light.

Good to have the broad sweep of the history of the significance of coal in this country, and the impact on global and national history. Such combinations of omitting important facts with a lack of rhetorical strategies that might cover for them weaken an intriguing and often convincing argument.And that is one of the telling points of the book - so much of this history is simply repeating itself today - as a society we just never learn but perhaps if there were more books like this that were widely read, especially but those of school age, we may start to think differently and see the societal shift that we desperately need. Finance is provided by PayPal Credit (a trading name of PayPal UK Ltd, Whittaker House, Whittaker Avenue, Richmond-Upon-Thames, Surrey, United Kingdom, TW9 1EH). Come down the travelators, exit Sainsbury's, turn right and follow the pedestrianised walkway to Crown Walk and turn right - and Coles will be right in front of you. But this does not mean that the Conservatives came to power in 1979 with a concrete plan to defeat the miners. I've never read a book by Paxman before this illuminating history of coal and it's impact on the development of Great Britain and it's industrialization leading to Empire building.

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