The social and political development of a new coalfield : the Dukeries 1913-51
The thesis describes the social and political effects of the transformation of the Dukeries district of Nottinghamshire, where seven new coal mines were sunk between 1918 and 1928. The coal companies responsible for developing the Dukeries field constructed new colliery villages 'at the pit gates' as part of their investment. The thesis deals with the history and characteristics of these townships, planned, built and owned by a single authority. Like other new communities, they suffered 'teething troubles'. It proved difficult to engender a unified community spirit as miners and their families migrated from older coalfields throughout Britain during the early years of high labour turnover. Relationships were strained between the miners and the existing residents of the Dukeries, although the aristocrats whose landed estates gave the district its name came reluctantly to favour mining because of the royalties they obtained therefrom. The first years of the new coinmuniti j:.es were beset by difficulties affecting the provision of facilities for education, religion, shopping, female employment and leisure. But the thesis does not just analyse the problems accompanying industrialisation. The power of the employers in the communities they had created produced much characteristic of company towns. Political representation and control was retained by the colliery companies and the old leaders of Dukeries society, while the Labour Party was not founded until the 194Os. The 'non-political' Spencer Union, a Nottinghamshire phenomenon, monopolised trade unionism in the new pits. Minor regulations were enforced in the villages by uniformed company policemen. As 'benevolent paternalists', the companies sponsored stores, sport, recreation and even religion. The notion of the orderly 'model' village was encouraged as a means of disciplining the workforce. The predominant characteristics of the colliery villages did not disappear until the 194Os, when the war followed by nationalisation destroyed the power of the private owners.