Social decline in Britain : Social Development

Social decline in Britain

employment UK - coalAt its peak, the British coal industry employed over a million men, and was one of the most important industries in the UK. Transport, power and related industries were all heavily reliant on coal. Even in the mid 1960s, British Rail was still running on coal power (steam). In the 1970s, a strike by coal miners, left Britain on the infamous three day week. Coal was Britain’s life blood, and without it, the economy could come to a standstill.

The decline of the British coal industry started after the First World War. But was accelerated after the Second World War, and in particular, after the miners strike of 1984.

energy sources UKBetween 1923 and 1945, employment in the industry fell from 1.2 to 0.8 million, and the British share of the world coal market dropped from 59% to 37%. In part, this can be explained by increased competition, not only from other countries producing coal but also from cheaper substitute fuels. Before 1914 demand for coal was rising at an annual rate of 4%; after the war British exports of coal plummeted and domestic demand remained stagnant. Coal in decline

Employment in UK Coal Industry

  • Employment in 2010 – 6, 000

Little more than 60 years after the end of the Second World War, Britain’s last coal mine producer (UK coal) is fighting for survival. Despite producing around 44% of British power needs (from just 39 mines employing 6, 000 people – UK Coal), even the UK coal industry knows it is an industry in decline. As the chairman of UK coal stated:

“I recognise fully that coal, as it is currently used to produce power, has a finite lifetime, because we have to decarbonise the energy supply chain, ” he says. “This industry is towards the end of its life. Let’s give it a managed landing, rather than a catastrophic insolvency.” (UK coal makes final bid for survival at Telegraph)

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