The Riches Beneath our Feet: How Mining Shaped Britain

The Riches Beneath our Feet: How Mining Shaped Britain

by Geoff Coyle
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0199551294

ISBN-13: 9780199551293

Pub. Date: 05/26/2010

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

Britain's mining and quarrying industries date back to the Stone Age flint mines of 2500 BC and still exist. In that period of more than 4,000 years the country's miners have produced colossal amounts of copper, tin, lead, zinc, iron, a lot of silver and some gold, and smaller amounts of just about every other metal from arsenic to uranium.

The metals were the

Overview

Britain's mining and quarrying industries date back to the Stone Age flint mines of 2500 BC and still exist. In that period of more than 4,000 years the country's miners have produced colossal amounts of copper, tin, lead, zinc, iron, a lot of silver and some gold, and smaller amounts of just about every other metal from arsenic to uranium.

The metals were the foundation of our industrial wealth and ease of living but they were driven by King Coal, which at its peak employed a million men and produced more than 200 million tons a year. Granite from Scotland, limestone from Southern England, sandstone and Welsh slate provided our homes, factories, roads and harbours. None of this could have been achieved without the genius of engineers such as James Watt, and the invention of powerful steam engines and many other technical advances. Our good fortune in this cornucopia of wealth derives from the Island's astonishing geological history: what is now Southern England was once on the Antarctic Circle.

Professor Geoff Coyle, a former mining engineer and from a mining family himself, sketches the story of how mining has shaped Britain. The account is wide ranging, involving stories of the mineral wealth of Britain and its exploitation, from simple quarrying to the advent of mass production. There are tales of the miners' lives and the great mining families, as well as accounts of the miner's work, the conditions in the mines, and mining disasters. Coyle weaves his personal experience and passion into the story, illuminating the industrial history, geology, and technology. Each chapter highlights one of the main mining fields and explores the mineral in question, its exploitation, and how technological changes affected the mining techniques used.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199551293
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
05/26/2010
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

Table of Contents

List of Figures xiii

List of Plates xv

1 The Achievements of Britain's Miners 1

2 Britain's Geology and Minerals 14

3 Britain's Copper and Tin Mining 31

4 Power to the Miner's Elbow 53

5 From Castle Roofs to Organ Pipes: The Lead and Zinc Mines 74

6 King Coal: Britain's Powerhouse 94

7 Building Britain: Granite, Stone, and Slate 125

8 The Salts of The Earth 143

9 Iron and Steel: The Sinews of Industry 157

10 The Riches of the Earth: Britain's Gold, Silver, and Precious Stones 171

11 Accidents and Disasters: The Price Miners Paid 180

12 Lords and Adventurers: the Mine Owners 193

13 The Mining People and Their Communities 206

14 Epitaph or Revival? The Possibilities for Britain's Mining Industries 221

Appendix: The Main British Minerals 232

Bibliography 254

Index 263

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