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have been established by Norwegian companies
in the Shetland Islands.

Bibliography.— Annual Reports > of the
Board of Agriculture and Fisheries (England) ,.
the Fishery Board for Scotland, and Depart-
ment of Agriculture and Technical Instruction
for Ireland; <The Resources of the Sea,> by-
Prof. W. C. Mcintosh, F. R. S. (in whfch the
idea that steam trawling is unduly injurious to
the general fishing industry is warmly denied)
(1899) ; 'Official Reports International Fish-
eries Exhibition (1084), containing a vast
amount of detailed description of the various
modes of fishing and kinds of gear; ( British
Fisheries, their Administration, and Problems, >
by James Johnstone (1905); <Sea aid Coast
Fishing,> by P. G. Aflalo (1901), dealing with
the sporting aspect of sea-fishing; Report* of
the I^oyal Commission on trawling (1878).

Herbert Eustace Maxwell,
Lord Lieutenant of Wigtownshire; President

of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland;

Author of < British Frcsh-Watcr Fisheries*


24. Great Britain—- The Mining Industry*

When it is considered that mining enterprise in
Great Britain and Ireland accounts, at the pres-
ent time for the employment of no less than
974,634 persons directly engaged in the produc-
tion of 249,021,651 tons of minerals estimated to
be worth, at the mines and quarries from which
they are drawn, the sum of ^07,477,639, the
vastness of the industry, and its effect on the
economic life of the country will perhaps be
more fully realized than by the recital of de-
tailed descriptions of the various branches of
mining. Indeed it may be said that the weakh
of Britain is mainly due to the unique position,
raineralogically, that it occupies relatively to
other nations; for no country contains, propor-
tionately to its area, so great or so varied a store
of mineral wealth.

Mining in the United Kingdom is usually-
treated as coming within one of two categories,*
viz. :* metalliferous mines, and* those which
are governed by the Coal Mines Regula-
tion Act, the latter comprising chiefly coal and
stratified ironstone mines, and being by far the

•'The Resources of the Sea,' by Prof. Mackin-
tosh (iftoo).

• For reference tee end of article

Digitized by



most extensive and important section, though a
development of later growth, having expanded
through seven centuries to what, as judged by
some, is believed to be its zenith.

Of the metalliferous deposits* mined in the
United Kingdom, the most important are, and
have always been, the ores of tin, copper, lead
and iron. Native silver has never been worked,
and it is doubtful whether it occurs in Britain
or Ireland, although Strabo writing about 19
a.d. mentions silver as well as gold as being
among its products.* Tacitus also makes refer-
ence to it indirectly. 8 Gold is very sparsely dis-
seminated, occurring in mineral veins, found
chiefly in Merionethshire* (North Wales),
Lanarkshire (Leadhills, Scotland) and Corn-
wall; and in some alluvial deposits in Suther-
landshire (Scotland) and Wicklow (Ireland).

Probably the earliest mining on commercial

centuries later, the .production* (during the
dicennial period 1766-1775) was abnormally
large, and as late as 1888 we And no less an
authority than the* late Mr. D. C. Davies 1 *
stating that for their size the British Islands
constitute the greatest copper producing country
of the world, but the production has greatly
dwindled since the time he wrote. Cornwall and
Anglesea are the chief copper bearing districts
in the kingdom, and very remarkable profits
have, in times past, been derived from some of
the mines."

The production of lead far exceeds that of
tin and copper, 13 and as in the case of tin and
copper, signs of a revival are not wanting, still,
it is very doubtful whether this branch of mining
in the United Kingdom will in the near future
attain to a similar state of prosperity as that
experienced about the year 1877. Lead mining

lines in Britain was that of tin. The ^cassi-
terides, 9 7 whence the Phoenicians obtained their
British tin, were, in all probability what are
now known as Scilly, the Channel Islands, and.
more particularly, Cornwall. The industry is
and always has been restricted to Cornwall and,
to a very small extent, to the contiguous part
of Devon, and as early as 60 b.c. we find Dio-
dorous Siculus describing the tin trade of these
parts. In the early years of the 19th century
(1817) Cornwall was the chief source of produc-
tion of the world's supply of tin, now it stands
fifth on the list of tin producing countries, con-
tributing only 4.7 per cent of the total produc-

What has been written of tin is also largely
true of copper. Carew* said, writing about 1600,
that he could not find that* it was being profitably
worked in the west of England, yet nearly two

no. a •hewiim THt FLueruATioNt in tw paces of com.


1TOTK: Tk*0&llm ut* maMhiff1mtprie*mndU*tkiKkmmt*t*mr*otpr»m

1 1 1 1 1 I I ■ 1 1 1 I I I l T I 1 * I I I 1 I I I t I I I I I l r I * ■!

in these islands is of considerable antiquity;
we know that lead ore was mined in Shropshire
in the days of the Emperor Hadrian from the
fact that ^pigs* of lead were some years ago
discovered in the refuse heaps of the Roman
gravel mines in that county, one of which is
preserved in the Geological Museum in Jermyn
street. It may be mentioned of this district
that, though possibly the smallest mineralized
area in Europe, it was believed by so great an
authority as the late Sir Roderick Murchison" to
be probably unequalled for its size, in point of
wealth in lead ore.

In Shropshire, North Wales, Cornwall, Isle
of Man and the Pennine Chain are situate the
chief lead mining areas of the kingdom. Lead
mining m general, however, is not being very
profitably conducted at the present time in the
United Kingdom. Though far from being ex-

Digitized by



hausted, except in few instances, the mineral
veins are not of such a character as to allow
of their being as cheaply exploited as the richer
deposits of Spain, Australia, and some other
extensive, lead-producing countries. As these
more bountiful districts become exhausted, pros-
perity will return to British lead mining.

Fig. i shows diagrammatically the fluctua-
tions in the prices of copper, lead and zinc in the
London market for each year since 1873 to 1904

The iron ore deposits of Great Britain 14 are
of two kinds, viz., stratified iron ore — the
mines of which come under the control of the
Coal Mines Regulation Act and the *mass )> and
•veined deposits of haematite which come within
the jurisdiction of the Metalliferous Mines Act
Cumberland and North Lancashire which yield
an output of nearly one and a half million tons,
are the source of the famous red haematite
which chiefly occurs in the form of huge irreg-
ular masses in the carboniferous limestone and
is the richest iron ore of the country, yielding


and averages about 33 per cent of metal The
Scottish ore and that from North Staffordshire
is largely worked from the Black Band iron-
stones (carbonate of iron) in conjunction with
the coal in the collieries of those districts and
varies considerably in richness of metal." Fig.
2 is a graphic representation of the fluctuations
in the price of coal and iron (London market)
for each year since 1873 up to last year.

A description of British mining would be
incomplete without some reference to the pro-
duction of slates, 18 as in no country are there
yielded slates of a quality equal to those of
North Wales. The mines proper are mostly in
Merionethshire, whereas the quarries are worked
in Carnarvonshire, the Penryhn quarry, near
Bangor, being the largest open working in the
world, the underground workings of the Oakley
Slate Quarry Company, Ltd., at Festiniog„
Merionethshire, being the most extensive slate
mine. The output of finished products from the
individual mines and quarries constitutes only
a part of what is drawn from the workings, it
being calculated that there is a loss of about
two-thirds in the ^dressing* (cutting and shap-
ing) of the slates.

Fig. 3.

on the average over 50 per cent of metal. Work-
ing one of these masses is probably the most
extensive iron mine in the world — the Hod-
barrow mine." The other principal iron pro-
ducing districts are Cleveland (N. Yorkshire),
which accounts for nearly five and three-quarter
million tons annually. Lincolnshire, Northamp-
tonshire and Leicestershire together supplying
over four and a half million tons, the total pro-
duction being nearly fourteen million tons an-
nually, valued at over three million sterling."
The Cleveland clay ironstone (carbonate of
iron) is chiefly worked from a bed about 10
feet thick, in the Middle Lias, containing on
the average about 30 per cent of iron. The ore
from Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and
Leicestershire is derived from open workings
in a bed of brown iron ore in the Inferior Oolite,

No description is given in this review of the
production of building and other stones derived
chiefly from quarries, as space does not permit
of allusion to other than the more purely
mining part of this subject.

The chief sources of the mineral wealth of
the United Kingdom is in the coal and iron
deposits. Of the latter mention has already
been made. The former far outweighs in im-
portance all other branches of mining classed

Until the year 1899 the United Kingdom
was the largest producer of coal in the world
(see Fig. 3) ; it now stands second, the United
States having outstripped it in the race for
supremacy in this respect.

When coal first came to be worked in this
country as a merchantable article, authorities are
not agreed. It may have been worked in a
desultory and uncertain fashion in very remote
times, but the first substantial mention of coal

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mining is that contained in the records of Holy-
rood and Newbattle Abbeys,* in which it is
shown that coal was dug on the south shore
of the Firth of Forth in Scotland about
1200 a.d. ; further, we know that coal was im-
ported into London from Newcastle about 1257.
Indeed, Novacastrians may justly claim the
banks of the Tyne as nursery of the coal trade,
and to the present day the inhabitants have more
than maintained their heritage of skill and fore-
sight, for there is no field in which the mining
industry rejoices in better management, both in
respect of the mining operations themselves and
in the conduct of labor affairs, than the Great
Northern coal field. The systems of *joint com-
mittees* of representatives of owners and men,
and the respective associations of mine owners
and of the workmen in Northumberland and
Durham constitute a pattern to be studied and
an example to be followed by every other min-
ing district wherever it may be, conducing, as
they have done in an eminent degree, to the
equitable conduct of the trade and the har-
monious relations existing between employers
and workmen.

There is, perhaps, no trade, excepting the
iron-making industry, more subject to variations
of prosperity and depression than coal mining.
It is often remarked that it is the first to prog-
nosticate a cycle of general depression and the
last to recover therefrom. Be that as it may,
the words of the old chronicler 20 have a strangely
modern ring about them, when read in the
light of recent experience. a Many thousands
of people,* he remarks, «are imployed in this
trade of coales: many live by working of them
in the pits: many live by conveying them in
wagons and waines to the river Tine : many
men are employed in conveying coales in keeles
from the stathes aboard the ships; one coal
merchant imployeth five hundred or a thousand
in his works of coals : yet for all his labour, care
and cost, can scarce live by his trade. * * *
Nay, many of them hath consumed and spent
great estates and dyed beggars.* The con-
clusion of the whole matter appeared to him
to be that *their Collieries is wasted and their
monies is consumed ; this is the uncertainty of
mines — a great charge, the profit uncertain.*

It is not proposed to follow the history of
development of the coal trade in detail. The
rate of this expansion and how it has been
affected by various improvements in mining and
facilities of transport are marked in the accom-
panying diagram, Fig. 4"

One of the most remarkable characteristics
of the carbonaceous deposits of this kingdom
other than the number of the separate fields and
their extensive area is the great variety in the
fuel itself. The coal fields may be divided into
groups as follows:

I. English Coal Fields.

Midland Group. — (1) North Staffordshire;
(2) South Staffordshire; (3) Leicestershire;
(4) Warwickshire.

North Midland Group. — (1) Yorkshire;
(2) Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

Great Northern Group. — (1) Durham and
Northumberland; (2) Cumberland.

Northwestern Group. — (1) Lancashire and
East Cheshire; (2) Coalbrookdale (or Shrop-
shire) ; (3) Forest of Wyre.

Western Group.— (1) Bristol and Somerset-
shire; (2) Forest of Dean.

II. Welsh Coal Fields.
(1) South Wales; (2) Denbighshire and

III. Scottish Coal Fields.
(1) The Clyde basin; (2) Midlothian and
Haddingtonshire; (3) Fifeshire; (4) Ayrshire;
(5) Lesmahagow; (6) Canonbie.

IV. Irish Coal Fields.
(1) Northern Group; (2) Southern Group.
These are of small importance and little worked.

The thickness of the seams worked in the
fields varies from 11 or 12 inches to 30 feet,
but the latter is restricted to South Stafford-
shire ; this seam and the thick coal of Warwick-
shire being quite exceptionable. Cannel coal in
Scotland has been worked, in some instances,
when only six inches thick.

The variation in the character and quality
of the coals within the different fields them-
selves is remarkable; for instance, first class
coking coal is mined near the banks of the
Tyne, yet only a few miles east of Newcastle
the world-famed Wallsend household coal is
produced, and by far the greater part of the
Northumbrian output is exported as steam
coaL Again, coke unrivalled in quality, is made
from the coal mined in the western and south-
western part of Durham, whereas good gas
and very superior house coal is raised from the
collieries situate in the central and eastern part of
the same county* The principal steam coal-pro-
ducing areas, other than Northumberland, are
South Wales (pre-eminently), and parts of the
Scottish fields — notably that of Fifeshire —
to some extent Lancashire, North Staffordshire
and Yorkshire ; the other fields chiefly supplying
manufacturing, iron smelting, gas and coking
coals. Of all the districts, the variation in
character of coal is most marked in the great
South Wales field, the seams in Monmouth-
shire being bituminous, but toward the south-
west they become less and less so, until in
central Glamorganshire the fuel mined is the
world-renowned smokeless steam coal so much
in request by the navies of this and other
nations, and toward the northwest (Carmarthen-
shire) the seams pass into anthracite. 18

A factor that must largely affect the future
commercial prosperity of the country, indeed
is vital to it — is the duration of its iron and
coal supplies. The stores of iron ore, owing to
the nature of the deposits, cannot be estimated
with the same degree of accuracy as is possible
in the case of coal, but it mav be safely
prophesied that their exhaustion will long pre-
cede that of coal. Working on the figures
arrived at by the late Royal Commission on
Coal Supplies, the time which would be taken
to exhaust the coal fields at the present rate
of output may be taken as about 600 years; 24
whether the present rate of output will be long
maintained is, however, somewhat doubtful. For
the last 30 years, the average increase in the
output has been 2V2 per cent per annum, and
that of exports (including bunkers) 4V2 per
cent per annum, but it is highly improbable,
owing to physical reasons, that these rates of
increase will be long continued. Some districts,

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indeed, have already attained their maximum,
and decadence has set in, as for instance in the
^exposed* part of the South Stafford coal field.
The developments in the new coal fields will
possibly increase the total output for some
years, but the Royal Commission, just alluded
to, a look forward to a time, not far distant,
when the rate of increase of output will be
slower, to be followed by a period of stationary
output, and then a gradual decline.* Nor do
they hold out any hope that the resources may
be husbanded by the utilization of any other
source of power; they a/e convinced <( that coal
is the only reliable source of power and that
there is no real substitute, though there are
some sources which may slightly relieve the
demand for coal.* 25

1 These figures are derived from the ' Mines and
Quarries Statistics,' published annually in four parts
by the Home Office as a Blue Book, comprising Dis-
trict Statistics, Part I; Labor, Part II; Output, Part
III; Colonial and Foreign Statistics, Part IV.

* Final ' Report ' of the Royal Commission on Coal
Supplies. This commission was appointed in 1903, and
published its final report in 1905.

8 The limited extent of metal mining is evidenced
by the fact that only 29,504 persons were employed
during the year 1904 in producing 3,246,336 tons of
metalliferous minerals, tide Part IV. of * Mines and
Quarries Statistics.'

4 Book IV.. Cap. 279. Clearly some process of ex-
traction of silver from rich silver-lead ore (galena)
must have been in vogue.

6 In the life of his father-in-law — ' Vita Agricola.*
Agricola in an oration to his soldiers before the battle,
near the Grampians (84 A.n.) exclaims: "Fert Britan-
nia aurum et argent urn et alia met alia, pre turn vic-

• ' The occurrence of gold in Great Britain and
Ireland/ by J. Malcolm Maclaren, B.Sc., F.G.S^ in
the * Transactions ' of the Institution of Mining Engi-
neers, vol. xxv., pp. 435-508. Hence, '* cassiterite,"
or oxide of tin, the commonest ore of that metal.

7 ' Tin Deposits of the World,' by Sydney Fawns,
F.G.S. For a clear statement of the present position
of Cornish tin mining, the articles which appeared
in the Engineering Supplement of the ' Times ' (Sept
27, Oct. 18. 1905) should be consulted. Tin mining,
in the strict sense of the term, probably dates
from the nth century, before that time the whole
of the tin being derived from "Stream Works." In
1884 the British output of tin ore amounted to 15,117
tons of tin ore (black tin), worth about £40 a ton;
the produce has year by year decreased, until during
1904 the output was only 6,742 tons, worth about £72
a ton. The price has been steadily rising, with occa-
sional fluctuations, during 1905-06, tin being dearer
now than ever recorded in the history of the world,
and many old mines are being reopened in Cornwall.

• Carew, Richard, of Antoine, ' Survey of Cornwall.'
•William Pryce in his ' Mineralogia Cornnbiensis '

gives the output as 264,273 tons of copper ore during
this period, averaging in price £6.14.6 per ton.

10 ' A Treatise on Metalliferous Mines and Mining,'
p. 125. Davics instances the fact, drawing his infor-
mation from Hunt's * Mineral Statistics of Great Britain
and Ireland,' that in the year 1877 there were 10 1
copper mines at work in the kingdom, producing an
aggregate of 79,252 tons of ore, valued at £317,186
7-7d; of these mines 65 were in Cornwall. The out-
put of copper ore (and copper precipitate) during the
year 1904 was only 5,465 tons, valued at the mines at

11 Pennant's ' Tour in North Wales.' The Parys
Mine, in the northern corner of Anglesea, worked for
a long time and in a century and a quarter returned
profits estimated at over €7.000,000. The copper at
present derived from the mines m this district is ob-
tained by precipitation of the copper in the waters
pumped from the mines.

"The output of lead ore for 1877 was 80,850 tons,
valued at £1,123.952, whereas during 1904 it amounted
to but 25.797 tons, valued at £206.238, to which
should be added 36 tons of so-called silver ore. valued
at £1,782. Vide 'Mines and Quarries Statistics.*

M Sir Roderick Murchison, F.R.S.. director of the
Geological Survey of Great Britain, * The Silurian Sys-
tem ' (1839, p. 282). He says, "we shall find there

are few tracts of given extent in any part of the

world which are veined to a greater extent."

" 4 The Iron Ores of Great Britain and Ireland,'
by J. D. Kendall, F.G.S. t affords much reliable and
valuable information on this subject.

16 The output of ore from this mine during 1904
was 498,637 tons.

»• The figures of 1904 give a total production from
all classes of mines and quarries of 13,774,282 tons,
valued at £3,125,814. ' Mines and Quarries Statis-

11 The output of the various kinds of ore may be
roughly proportioned as follows: Clay ironstone, 4a
per cent of the output; black band, 12 per cent;
haematite (red), 11 per cent; brown ore, 29 per cent.

18 The total production of slates during 1904 wu
563,170 tons* valued at £1,678,726. Of this 427.730
tons were contributed by North Wales, in the propor-
tion, roughly speaking, of three-fifths from open work-
ings and two-fifths from mines. The Oakley Coy'a
mines alone produced 49,192 tons.

19 For an exhaustive and admirable history of coal
mining in Great Britain, the reader cannot be re-
ferred to a more interesting and accurate record than
the ' Annals of Coal Mining and the Coal Trade * (a
vols.) by R. L. Galloway.

20 Grey, ' Chorografhia, or a Survey of Newcastle-
upon-Tinc' published 1649.

u After J. B. Simpson, M.I.C.E„ vide. Address on
the 'Rise and Progress of Coal Mining (1896), the
diagram has been further extended and brough* up to
date thus:

Long tons,
2,240 lbs.

In the year 1660, it was estimated by
the Royal Commission on coal (reported
1871) that the output of coal was, 2,148,00c

And that in 1770 it had risen but little,
being but 2,612,000

Between 1770 and 1750, however, steam
was applied to draining mines, and gun-
powder came to be used at underground
operations, so that it was estimated that
bv i7<;o the output had advanced consid-
abrr, being for that year 4*773.828

Later steam was applied to hoisting the
coal up the shafts, and between 1760 and
1800 the development of the canal system
took place, which gave a great impetus to
the trade. So that for 1880 the output
had increased to 10,080,300

In 1803 coal came to be used for the
manufacture of gas, and in # 1815 tn «
safety-lamp was invented, which would
further assist coal mining. Mr. Samuel
Salt computed the output for 1816 to be... 27,020,115

For 1845 Mr. J. R. McCullock puts
the output at 34,600,000

The introduction of steam in naviga-
tion and the development of the railway
system took place shortly before and
about this time.

The (1871) Royal Commission on Coal,
sometimes called the Argyll Commmission,
the Duke of Argyll being its chairman,
calculated that in 1855, the outnut had
risen to the considerable figure of 64,307,000

The first year of which we have official returns is
i860. The following figures show the increase:

i860 84,042,608

1865 98.150,507

1870 112,875,575

1880 146,969,409

1890 181,614,288

1900 207,084,871

1905 236,111,150

a Professor Hull's 'Coal Fields of Great Britain*
(sixth edition) should be consulted by the reader in-
terested in further pursuing this subject.

*• The extent to which the different fields contribute
to the total production may be roughly proportioned
as follows:


. East Scotland 17^

' West Scotland

Northumberland and Durham 54^

Yorkshire and Lincolnshire 30

North and East Lancashire »J4

Midland 30

Staffordshire i 4 Jf

Southern District , 13

Liverpool and North Wales 15^

South Wales

under i/ioth




21 The annual output of anthracite is nearly 3,000,000
tons, practically derived entirely from this region.

Digitized by



* ' Reports' of Royal Commission on Coal Supplies.

Online LibraryWilfrid RichmondThe Americana: a universal reference library, comprising the arts ..., Volume 10 → online text (page 29 of 185)