Fig 1: The Rise and Fall of King Coal by Nick Pigott

The Rise and Fall of Coal by Nick Pigott: Book Review

This recent publication and highly recommended book is a timely intervention during the current energy crisis, as it embraces all aspects of the history of the British coal mining industry and the role it played in providing the country’s energy needs. In 2022 when energy bills are escalating and world energy markets are temperamental, some commentators are suggesting that coal as a fuel was disregarded too soon, and a monumental error to ban its use has been made. A modern, streamline High-tech British coal mining industry, combined with clean coal burning technology could have given security of supply whilst a new energy policy fit for the twenty-first century was put in place.


Fig. 2:  Fuel for the Future, November 1967. From collection of MuBu Miner. 

No doubt, coal-mining historians will be delving into the archives, searching through various periods in the post Second World War era when successive Government interventions in the energy sector made its effects, both positively and negatively on the British coal mining industry.  Strategic dates include the nationalisation of the industry in January 1947, the plans for coal in the 1950s, the 1967 energy white paper, the 1974 Plan for Coal, the miner’s strike of 1984/85, the coal crisis of October 1992 to March 1994 and the re privatisation of the British Coal mining industry in 1995.


Fig.3: Class 56 in Black Diamonds coal sector livery at the Ollerton Colliery rapid loading bunker in the early 1990’s. 

Lavishly illustrated, the first edition was published as a bookazine in 2016, following the closure of the last three deep coalmines in Britain the previous year. This latest hardback version has been updated and enlarged and is a worthwhile addition to any library either public or private and a must for former employees of the industry. It will be an invaluable source of practical education in schools, especially at secondary level. All subject areas are included, from the formation of coal millions of years ago, the start of early mining, the Industrial Revolution and the involvement with the birth of the railways. There are illustrations showing modern mining methods in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.


Fig. 4: Different kinds of coal exhibited at the Bilsthorpe Heritage Museum, Nottinghamshire.  Photo Credit: MuBu Miner. 

Information is right up to date with the proposal for the new Woodhouse coal mine in Cumbria that was to produce coking coal for the steel industry, but unfortunately has been refused on environment issues. The UN Climate Change Summit (COP 26) was held in Glasgow in November 2021 and the post Heritage sector in the third decade of the 21st Century are included.

Former Journalist and Railway Magazine editor Nick Pigott is to be warmly congratulated on producing such a well-informed and comprehensive book on the history of British coal mining. We thoroughly recommend this book to anyone with a general interest in British coal mining history. You will find it a fascinating and most enjoyable read, a book certainly not to be missed.


Publisher: Morton Media Group, Horncastle, Lincolnshire. LN9 6JR


Date published: 25th February 2022


Pages: 264


ISBN: 9781 911 658634


Price: £29.99 RRP.


Book review by Bob Bradley and David Amos

Posted 3rd June 2022

Created in rebel county by Thinkamigo
Research, design, communications