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Title: A detailed survey of the history and development of the South Wales coal industry : from c.1750 to c.1850.
Author: Collier, Leonard Baden.
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University of London
Date of Award: 1940
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Abstract:
The year 1750 has been selected as a starting point of this. account of the growth of the South Wales Coalfield because apart from a little coalmining in the lower Neath and Swansea Valleys and in Pembrokeshire the rest of the coalfield was as yet untouched. The modem era of the iron industry also ýegan in a feeble way about this time. Though coal was not used for it smeltingt was employed in the subsequent process, and the developmeat of coal mining as an industry subsidiary to that of iron, may be said to date from the Dowlais and Cyfarthfa leases. Consequently the story of coal is largely that of iron throughout the period coveredv and the establishment of the iron indastry in the various valleys takes a prominent place throughout. Similarly 1850 has been, chosen as marking a suitable period to end this account. By that date in all the valleys, pits or levels had been opened and the period of consolidation had ended. That-of rapid development followed the introduction of the railway, the application on a fairly wide scale of steam to sea-transport and. the increasing-, ý mechanisation of loading facilities at the docks. The jump in the exports of the 1860's and 187018 makes the growth of the industry in the previous hundred years appear extraordinarily slow, but the leisurely development ensured a solid foundation for the subsequent surge in output. The treatment adopted in dealing with the opening of collieries is by river valley. The area covered is so large that anthropological treatment would be impossible to follow. Such a method would require in the reader,. an exhaustive knowledge of the geography of the Welsh valleys, such, as is rarely possessed by their inhabitants, and the mental confusion resulting from the geographical leaps essential to strict chronology would outweigh any advantage gained from a tale told in strict sequence. Again, the differing types of coal, their varying markets and their dependence on the iron industry smaller or greater according to the region concerned combine to make a localised story more readable and intelligible. Only in Pembrokeshire, where it is not applicable has this method been discarded. Evidences of coal-mining anterior to 1750 have been noted in the text in connection with each of the areas concerned; consequently it has not been thought necessary to include an introductory chapter dealing with these early efforts. Apart from the region round Swansea Bay and Pembrokeshire, evidence of coalmining, if local tradition is not accepted too readily, is small, and hardly deserving of serious consideration. In the interior it is certain that commercial coal-mining was negligible. Even in Swansea, prior to the establishment of the copper industry from 1720 onward, coal-shipping was but a minor activity and there was no local market for any appreciable quantities. No attempt has been made to recount the history of the improvements in mining technique. This could be done successfully only by a writer thoroughly conversant with modern practice, and with the difficulties which have been faced by earlier mining engineers and who could estimate the precise. significance of each new development in the conduct and care of mines. Consequently only incidental notice of improved methods and of new machinery, such as Fourdrinier's winding gear or Struve's and Brunton's mechanical ventilators has been taken. It is perhaps inevitable that the material available for reconstructing the story of the past, will not be available in just the quantity and distribution the student requires. That this is so in the case of the history of the South Wales Coalfield will be evident. Many records the historian would wish to see are lost for ever; some may be unearthed in the future in unlikely places. All the more probable sources of information have been thoroughly investigated. and the story of the rise of the industry told as fully as the available material allows.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.296516  DOI: Not available
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