Use of Coal in industry

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Use of Coal in industry

But means were soon found adapt the new fuel, which had long been used by smiths lime-burners who were close to local pits, to other industries. Round the coalfields on the Tyne, Wear and Forth sprang up numerous saltpans; and by 1650 coal was being used for soap-boiling, sugar refining, dyeing, brewing and alum and copperas works. In all these processes there were no technical difficulties in the substitution of coal for wood. Gradually means were found to adapt coal or a crude form of coke to malt-drying, brick and tile making, tobacco pipe making and pottery and glass. A considerable. industrial expansion, had thus been made possible only by the use of coal; but despite the claims of numerous patentees, the problem of smelting metal without wood had to wait until the next century.

It is significant that while the population of the erstwhile village of Birmingham advanced from 5000 to 15,000 between 1650 and 1700, its increased output of small metal goods (Birmingham "toys ") was dependent on supplies of pig-iron from Sweden and Spain.

It was even proposed to encourage the colonies to produce pig-iron with their plentiful supplies of wood, while rigidly excluding their manufactured iron goods from the English and European markets.

This was another example of the Old Colonial System.

By the end of the seventeenth century about a third of the coal produced, or about one million tons, was being used for industrial purposes, the rest being for domestic consumers or for export.

London and the Thames valley were by far the largest coal consumers; but there was also a considerable trade from South Wales to the West Country and Ireland (particularly Dublin), and collieries at Coalbrookdale (where Abraham Darby set up his ironworks) and round Nottingham supplied coal to all the towns of e Severn and Trent valleys respectively.

On grounds of expense, coal could only be carried considerable distances by water; and there were many attempts to improve inland waterways with this end in view; while the transport of coal by sea, particularly from Newcastle to London, called for such an increase in the merchant navy as to make it arguable that coal was more important, as a stimulus to shipping, than the Navigation Acts.

Only in the Midlands, where small coal-pits were densely scattered, was the transport problem less acute, since the coal could be consumed at only a short distance from where it was mined. Still, the difficulties of carriage meant that many villages outside the coal areas continued to rely entirely on wood or peat for fuel. The foreign market for coal was slow in expansion compared with the domestic; at times much coal was shipped from Newcastle and the Forth to Holland, but the wars led to interruptions in the trade, .vhile first Colbert's protectionism, and afterwards war, closed the French market. This is one of the reasons why England was able to keep ahead of France in manufactures; for the Continental coal supplies could not be developed with the same ease.

Next Great Britain In The World Economy, 2015


But the most striking development of the seventeenth century was the business consultant 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,... see: Coal

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