During the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries, Wales witnessed a complex relationship between coal, politics, and the community. The country's modern history has especially been shaped by the importance of coal as a vital source of energy (Davis 2006)…
Wales, as a nation, has largely been built around welsh language, and partly on collective identity by virtue of the coalfield communities. In the Wales, the labor party was held in reverence, owing to political and cultural references to coal. During the 1984-1985, the coal mine workers went on strike, following a change of government by Margaret Thatcher. The conservative party, unlike the labor party that was more concerned with the welfare of the mine workers and wealth distribution, was more concerned with free trade (Gildart 2001).
This move was also not popular with both the national union of mineworkers (NUM) and the national coal board (NCB) that was recording losses. Market fluctuations, labor intensity, geographic concentration, distinctive structure and nature of the coal mining industry are some of the features that characterized this industry in the United Kingdom during the twentieth century (Davis 2006). The coalfields were so dependent on a limited economic activities range that once there was a decline in the market for coal, there occurred a widespread social distress, unemployment, and bitter disputes in industrial relations. As such, coal mining has served as an example to a number of social, economic and political issues in the history of modern Britain.
State of the industry before 1945
During the industrial revolution, coal mining evolved into a large scale affair, as it was the primary source of energy for transportation and industries during the period between the eighteenth century and the 1950s. Compared to other sources of energy such as electricity, coal is steal abundant and of a lower cost. However, the discovery and mining of coal in other areas such as the United States led to a significant drop in the demand for coal from the Wales on a global scale. Additionally, oils and other associated fuels were now gaining popularity as an alternative source of energy (Davis 2006).
By the late twentieth century, coal was rapidly being replaced as a source of energy in the transportation and industrial sectors, as well as at the domestic level. During the twentieth century, there was an increase in both output and manpower, and this ensured that Wales had its peak coal production. In 1913, Wales produced about 57 million tons of coal in 620 mines that employed 232,000 men. By 1913, Britain had over 2,500 mines. These were producing in excess of 290 million tones of coal (Davis 2006).
Of these, 30 percent was meant for export. By 1938, just prior to the Second World War, the number of mines had reduced to 1,900, and the output plummeted to 230 million tones. Export was just over 50 million tones. This notwithstanding, the scale of the industry was still considered to be very large. By 1913, South Wales produced about 20 percent of all the coal in the United Kingdom (Gildart 2001). This came from coalfields in Durham/Northumberland, and Yorkshire and Scotland. The counties and towns where these mines were located became home to thousands of mines workers.
By 1921, almost half of all the adult male workers found in Glamorgan happened to be coal miners. Following the end of the First World War ...
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