Coal

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Coal

But the most striking development of the seventeenth century was the increased production of coal. It has been calculated that, while the average annual output of coal in 1551-60 was 210,000 tons, it was 8,000,000 tons, or nearly fourteen-fold, in 1681-90.

This is a considerable amount when it is recalled that Portugal in 1935 consumed rather less than 1,250,000 tons.

About one-third was produced in Northumberland and Durham; another third from various small pits in the Midlands; while the rest was accounted for by a number of areas, including North and South Wales, Scotland, Cumberland, and the West Country.

The stimulus which brought about this increase came from the shortage and rising price of timber.

Wood, or some alternative, was required by house- and ship-builders, by the iron smelters of the Weald and the Forest of Dean, and by all the new industries like glass-making, large-scale brewing, sugar refining and salt-evaporating, which had sprung up from about 1590 onwards, as well as for domestic fuel consumption.

Not only was the demand increasing, but the available supplies were diminishing, for the enclosure movement threatened woodland as well as arable.

Systematic reafforestation was unknown, and the appeals for it in John Evelyn's Sylva fell on deaf ears.

Already in Elizabeth's reign proposals were made to banish iron mills out of the realm.

The remedy lay in using coal as a substitute for wood, wherever possible.

In 1580, London imported less than 1,000 tons of coal; in 1614, over 90,000; in 1667, over 250,000; and in 1697, over 450,000.

Almost all of this was shipped from Newcastle (Mrs.

Quickly's "sea-coal "), and it was used by the poor for domestic fuel.

I the Civil War, the Royal forces tried to bring London to submission by cutting off its fuel supply; and under th Restoration convoys were regularly provided against pirates


Next - Smallness And Insularity Of The Towns

Industry: Cloth

The cloth industry continued to be the most important of English manufactures, and seems to have suffered less than formerly from depressions and stoppages.

This was probably due in part to the rapid growth of the home and colonial markets, which did not suffer from the interruptions of war, and in part to the greater freedom in seeking new markets which resulted from the abolition of the monopolistic companies after the Revolution of 1688.

The Government strove to encourage it by forbidding the export of wool and the use of calicoes; whether such measures were helpful or necessary is... see: Industry: Cloth


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