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«How important was coal to the Industrial Revolution? Despite the huge growth of output, and the grip of coal and steam on the popular image of the ...»

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Energy for domestic purposes could have been supplied to English consumers at a less than prohibitive cost as late as the 1860s. But this more expensive energy would have resulted in a very different pattern of location for energy intensive industries such as iron production. The effects of this relocation of industrial activity are difficult to analyze. But since, as noted before, the estimated contribution of coal and iron and steel to productivity growth is Industrial Revolution England is so small, the effects before 1870 would still potentially have been modest. These last estimates are very speculative, but by implication so also are the alternative claims of Pomeranz and Wrigley that English possession of coal was a vital component of the Industrial Revolution.



Hughes (1963); Durham Record Office: D/Br/B 1, 79, 122, 141, 180, 186, 195; D/CG 6/365, 1450, 1455-57, 1460, 1462; D/DD 140; D/Lo/E 303, 304; D/St/Bl/3/4, 5, 25, 39-40, 66, 69, 72, 108-9, 119; D/X 651/3; Durham University Special Collections: GB-0033-SHA 393, 423, 431/1a, 3289, 3314, 3327, 3351, 3402, 3403, 3572-4, 3581, 3586; Newcastle City Library: L347.2 230743, 230745;

L622.33; L622.33 63943; Northumberland Record Office: 2/DE/1/14; BELL/14; BUD/18, 32, 50, 53; JOHN/6/26; JOHN/7, 8; LES 2/30, 32-3, 40; LES/3/34, 44, 46, 50, 56, 62-3, 61, 77-8, 83;

WAT/1/5; WAT/3/30, 41, 45, 51, 58, 72, 103-4, 110; WAT/4/21; WAT/5/2, 6, 7, 11-2; ZGR dm/12/n; ZRI/35/24; Tyne and Wear Archive Service: 3415 CK/8/60, 65; 3415 CK/9/106, 122;

DF/WF/29; DS/CAR/11/1-4; DX 973/5/1.


Beveridge (1966), pp. 294-5; Dunn (1844), pp. 73, 85; Harley (1988); Hausman, William J. (personal communication), Newcastle prices from “Brief Against the Petition of Glassmakers.” Porter (1851), pp. 277-8; Durham Record Office: NCB/I/JB/2435, 2444, 2454, 2457, 2462, 2466.

Morpeth Records Centre: NRO 1073/1-55; Newcastle City Library: SL 622.33; Northumberland Record Office: 2/DE/7/10/1-22; 725/C/2; BUD/32; BUD/53; BUD 54/18-9, 132; FOR/3;

WAT/1/26/9; WAT/3/41, 84; ZAN/M13, B3-4; Tyne and Wear Archive Service: 35/167


Beveridge (1966) (Greenwich Hospital, Chelsea Hospital, Lord Steward, Navy Victualling, Westminster); United Kingdom, Board of Trade (1902) (Greenwich Hospital, Bethlem Hospital);

Guildhall Library: Brewers’ Company, Dame Alice Owen’s Almshouses, Islington. 5478/1-3.



Ashton, T. S. 1948. The Industrial Revolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ashton, T. S. and Joseph Sykes 1964. The Coal Industry of the Eighteenth Century.

Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Begley, C. D. and A. E. Coates. 1961. “Estimating Yield of Hardwood Coppice for Pulpwood Growing.” Forestry Commission Report on Forest Research 1959/60, pp. 189-196. London: Her Majesty’s Stationary Office.

Beveridge, W.H. 1966. Prices and Wages in England from the 12th to the 19th Century, Vol. I.

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Braudel, F. 1981. The Structures of Everyday Life. New York: Harper & Row.

Buxton, N.K. 1978. The Economic Development of the British Coal Industry. London:

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Church, R. 1986. The History of the British Coal Industry, vol. 3, 1830-1913. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Clapham, J.H. 1926. An Economic History of Modern Britain. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Clark, Gregory 1998. ‘Land Hunger: Land as a Commodity and as a Status Good in England, 1500 Explorations in Economic History, 35 (1), (Jan.), 59-82.

Clark, Gregory 2001a. ‘Farm Wages and Living Standards in England, 1670-1869,’ Economic History Review, 54 (3), (August): 477-505.

Clark, Gregory 2001b. “The Secret History of the Industrial Revolution.” Working Paper, UC

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Clark, Gregory 2004. “The Price History of English Agriculture, 1209-1914” Forthcoming, Research in Economic History, 22.

Clark, Gregory 2005. “The Condition of the Working-Class in England, 1209-2004” Journal of Political Economy, 113(6) (December): 1307-1340.

Crafts, N.F.R. 1985. British Economic Growth during the Industrial Revolution. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Crafts, N.F.R. and C.K. Harley. 1992. ‘Output Growth and the Industrial Revolution: A Restatement of the Crafts-Harley View.’ Economic History Review 45:703-730.

Cromar, P. 1977. ‘The Coal Industry on Tyneside, 1771-1800: Oligopoly and Spatial Change.’

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Cromar, P. 1978. ‘The Coal Industry on Tyneside, 1715-1750.’ Northern History, 14, 193-207.

Deane, P. 1965. The First Industrial Revolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dunn, M. 1844. An historical, geological and descriptive view of the coal trade of the north of England.

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Evans, J. 1984. Silviculture of Broadleaved Woodland. Forestry Commission Bulletin 62. London: Her Majesty’s Stationary Office.

Farey, J. 1827. Historical Account of the Steam Engine.

Flinn, M.W. 1984. The History of the British Coal Industry, vol. 2. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Griffin, A.R. 1977. The British Coalmining Industry. Buxton: Moorland Publishing.

Hammersley, G. 1973. “The Charcoal Iron Industry and its Fuel, 1540-1750.” Economic History

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Harley, C. K. 1988. 'Ocean Freight Rates and Productivity 1740-1913: The Primacy of Mechanical Invention Reaffirmed.' The Journal of Economic History, 48 no. 4 (1988) 851-876.

Harrison, A.E. 1994. ‘Productivity, imperfect competition and trade reform: Theory and evidence.’ Journal of International Economics, 36, 53-73.

Hausman, W.J. 1984a. ‘Cheap Coals or Limitation of the Vend? The London Coal Trade, 1770-1845.’ Journal of Economic History, 44, 321-328.

Hausman, W.J. 1984b. ‘Market Power in the London Coal Trade: The Limitation of the Vend, 1770-1845.’ Explorations in Economic History, 21, 383-405.

Hausman, W.J. 1987. ‘The English Coastal Coal Trade, 1691-1910: How Rapid was Productivity Growth?’ Economic History Review, 40(4), 588-596.

Hausman, W.J. 1993. ‘Freight Rates and Shipping Costs in the English Coastal Coal Trade: A Reply.’ Economic History Review 46(3), 610-612.

Hughes, M. 1963. Lead, Land, and Coal as Sources of Landlord Income in Northumberland between 1700 and

1850. Ph.D. thesis, Durham University.

Jevons, W. S. 1865. The Coal Question: An inquiry concerning the progress of the nation and the probable exhaustion of our coal mines. London.

McCloskey, D. 1981. ‘The Industrial Revolution: 1780-1860, A survey,’ in R. Floud and D.

McCloskey, The Economic History of Britain since 1700, pp. 103-128. Cambridge: Cambridge

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McCord, N. and D.J. Rowe 1971. Northumberland and Durham: Industry in the Nineteenth Century. Newcastle upon Tyne: Frank Graham.

Mitchell, B.R. 1984. Economic Development of the British Coal Industry, 1800-1914. Cambridge:

Cambridge University Press.

Mokyr, J. 1990. The Lever of Riches. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Nef, J.U. 1932. The Rise of the British Coal Industry, vol.s I & II. London: Routledge.

Pollard, S. 1983. ‘Capitalism and Rationality: A Study of Measurements in British Coal Mining, ca. 1750-1850.’ Explorations in Economic History, 20, 110-129.

Pollard, S. 1988. ‘Coal Mining, 1750-1850” in Charles Feinstein and Sidney Pollard (eds.), Studies in Capital Formation in the United Kingdom, 1750-1920, pp. 35-72. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Pomeranz, Kenneth 2000. The Great Divergence: China, Europe and the Making of the Modern World Economy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Porter, G. R. 1851. The Progress of the Nation. London: John Murray.

Raistrick, A. 1938. “Mine Drainage in the 18th Century,” Mine and Quarry Engineering, Sept.

Rollinson, T. J. D. and J. Evans. 1987. The Yield of Sweet Chestnut Coppice. Forestry Commission Bulletin, 64. London: Her Majesty’s Stationary Office.

Sweezy, P.M. 1938. Monopoly and Competition in the English Coal Trade, 1550-1850.

Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

United Kinggdom, Board of Trade 1902. Wholesale and Retail Prices.

von Tunzelmann, Nicholas. 1978. Steam Power and British Industrialization to 1860. Oxford:

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Vries, P. H. H. 2001. ‘Are Coal and Colonies Really Crucial? Kenneth Pomeranz and the Great Divergence,’ Journal of World History, 12(2), 407-446.

Wrigley, E.A. 1962. ‘The Supply of Raw Materials in the Industrial Revolution,’ Economic History Review 15(1), 1-16.

Wrigley, E.A. 1988. Continuity, chance and change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Figure 1: Real prices in London and cumulative output from the north east

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Note: The cumulative output in 1700 from the north east is assumed rather arbitrarily to be 100 million tons. It would not affect the picture shown here if it were made higher or lower. Prices are deflated by a price index for the economy as a whole.

Sources: Outputs, Flinn (1984), p. 26, Church (1986), p. 3. London Prices, see appendix.

General price level, Clark (2006).

Figure 2: The Cliometric Account of the Coal Industry in the Industrial Revolution Source: See the text.

Figure 3: The Traditional Account of the Coal Industry in the Industrial Revolution Note: For our method of estimating average Newcastle prices per ton see the appendix. Prices before the 1730s are not based on actual Newcastle prices, but are estimated assuming that they bore the same relation to London prices as in the 1740s. For the decades after this the standard error of the price relative to that of the 1860s is typically 5-8%.

Sources: See the appendix.

Figure 4: Real Newcastle Pithead Prices and cumulative output, 1700s-1860s Note: Prices were deflated by a general price index derived in Clark (200-).

Sources: See the appendix

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0-99 0 100-99 4 200-99 9 300-99 5 400-99 6 500-99 4 600-99 3 700-99 4 800-99 3

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1710 1.8 4.30 1720 72 4.72 45 1.6 0.2 1730 69 4.73 45 1.6 1740 73 4.48 45 1.5 1750 4.98 1760 5.88 1770 2.5 37 6.03 25 1.0 1.5 1780 5.90 1790 4.0 54 6.41 20 1.0 3.0 1800 80 9.32 12 1.1 1810 78 10.35 12 1.1 1820 10.16 1830 3.5 60 9.13 12 0.9 2.6 1840 73 8.20 12 1.0 1850 3.0 34 10.13 12 0.9 2.1 1860 10.72 Notes: The steam engine is assumed to be a Newcomen until the 1760s, then a Newcomen as improved by Smeaton until the 1790s, then a Watt engine thereafter. The engine capital cost is calculated assuming a 70 percent mark up on the price of the engine itself for transport, erection, boilers, and engine house as suggested by von Tunzelmann. Steam engines are assumed to operate 4,000 hours per year, horses 2,400 hours. Coal prices are taken as those of best coal because this is what von Tunzelman assumes.

Sources: Price of best coals at the pithead in the northeast, Table 1. Horse cost, steam engine capital costs, and engine efficiency, von Tunzelmann (1978), pp. 48-55, 70-74, 117-121.

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1720-59 6.0 1.6 0.4 1 1770-99 4.4 2.0 5.3 14 1800-39 4.9 4.8 12.2 20 1840-69 3.0 2.9 6.2 10 Source: Share of coal costs in mining, table 6.

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Note: For our method of estimating average site rents per ton see the text. The minimum and maximum rents are just the minimum and maximum reported rents per ton. Pithead prices for the 1710s and 1720s are estimated from the London price by assuming they were in the same proportion as in the 1740s.

Sources: See the appendix.

Figure 5: Rents as a Share of Pithead Prices, 1815-1864 Figure 6: Simulated path of prices and output from 1740 to 1860 with rapidly increasing

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Notes: Costs were calculated net of taxes. 1Labor costs including craftsmen, and miners’ coal. 2The costs of supplies only.

Sources: Flinn (1984), pp. 34-5, 292-3, 324-5, Church (1986), p. 502, 521-2,

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Notes: The solid line shows hewers wages in Northumberland and Durham as predicted from northern farm wages.

Sources: Hewers wages in Northumberland and Durham, Ashton and Sykes (1964), pp. 135-141, Flinn (1984), pp. 387-392, Church (1986), pp. 642-5. Farm workers wages in the north of England, Clark (2001).

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Sources: aChurch (1986), pp. 103, 530-1, bMitchell (1984), cBuxton (1978).

Table 10: Estimated extraction costs, input costs and TFP in the northeast, 1700s-1860s

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Notes: The standard error of these estimates of TFP we estimate to be about 10% in each decade relative to the 1860s, assuming the errors in all the components independent.

Sources: Tables 1, 5-9.

Figure 8: Total factor productivity in north east mining, 1710-1869 Source: Table 10.

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Notes: North West Russia is taken as including the Arkhangelsk, Karelia, Komi, Leningrad, Murmansk, Novograd, Pskov, and Vologda Oblasts.

Sources: United Nations, Food and Agriculture Organization, Forest Products.

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Notes: This figure is drawn on the assumption that a standard hundred of deals in St Petersburg occupied 165 cubic feet (Lower (1973), p. 25).

Sources: Clark (2004), Clark (2005), Harley (1988)

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