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Topic: Coal culture
Coal culture
Coal mining was once a supremely important industry in the UK, employing more than a million people and supplying almost all of Britain’s energy needs. But what about coal miners and their families? Few industries are so concealed or so inherently dangerous. Roof falls, gas explosions or flooding were ever-present dangers when working deep underground and miners relied on each other for survival. Families had to make the best of what the pit dealt out to them – whether in terms of wages, housing, injury or death. It was this harsh reality that forged self-reliance, solidarity and strength among the miners, and served to shape the unique communities of the mining districts: a culture that cannot survive a changing world where fewer than 10,000 people now work in deep mining. This topic examines the unique nature of coal culture, looking firstly at the bonds forged between those who work in such dangerous conditions before moving on to the development of the mining unions and finally presenting an analysis of the communities that grew up around the coal mines.
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Inherent dangers of underground working
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The pressures and traditions of working life underground produced a coal culture. However health and safety legislation transformed the industry forever and now threatens the future of deep mining altogether.  > more

Conflict & solidarity
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Teamwork was crucial to the safe operation of the mine. This team spirit was carried over into industrial relations but the 1984–85 miners’ strike tore apart the National Union of Mineworkers and divided coalmining communities.  > more

Pit villages – the mining community
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Coalmining villages were built around the pit and were often geographically isolated. The culture of the coalfield villages has changed over time. However it is unlikely that coal culture can long survive the absence of a pit, despite its strong roots.  > more
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