Coal is a combustible, sedimentary, organic rock, composed mainly of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Coal seams are formed from vegetation, sandwiched between rock strata and altered by the effects of pressure and heat over millions of years. The use of coal in modern times is not fully understood by younger generations. Coal played a significant role in the industrial revolution in Britain and continues to do so, for power generation, steel production and less obviously in the manufacture of consumer goods.

Stock coal at Bentinck Colliery, Nottinghamshire, in the early 1990’s.  Photo Credit – David Amos.

The majority of Britain’s coal requirements are now met by imports from Russia, Columbia and the USA. Whilst domestic coal consumption in the UK is negligible, demand for ‘steam coal’ used in power generation remains high. Emerging manufacturing economies such as China have a huge appetite for coal. ‘Since 2000, global coal consumption has grown faster than any other fuel. The five largest coal users – China, USA, India, Russia and Japan – account for 76% of total global coal use’ (World Coal Association, 2013).

Coal is more abundant than gas and oil but is a major contributor to greenhouse gas concentrations. The development of carbon capture technology is seen as critical to its continued use as an economically efficient fuel source.

Commemorative lump of coal, the last coal mined at Coppice Colliery, near Heanor, Derbyshire, in late August 1966.  Photo Credit – David Amos collection 

Do you know your Doubles from your phurnacite? Display of different types of coal and solid fuel at the Bilsthorpe Heritage Museum, Nottinghamshire. Photo Credit – David Amos 

Keeping the homes fires burning. 

Bestwood Coal and Iron Company 1930’s domestic coal promotion. Photo Credit: Bestwood WEH collection 

Bestwood Coal and Iron Company 1930’s coal sales advertisment. Photo Credit – Bestwood WEH collection

Count the bags of coal in!  The Coalman. Photo Credit – Coal Authority. 

Getting the coal in, Selston, Nottinghamshire in the late 1980’s. Photo Credit – David Amos collection

1992 British Coal concessionary coal /solid fuel agreement. Source – Don Walker collection

Coal fires times past, the Range. Photo Credit – Coal Authority

Open coal fire at Byron Road, Annesley Colliery village (The Rows), Nottinghamshire, in 1980. Photo Credit – David Amos.

1970’s Parkray coalfire promotion. Photo Credit – Coal Authority 

Coal in 10 Objects Menu
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