#BookReview for Images of the Past: Coal Miners by Brian Elliott @PenSwordBooks #ImagesofthePast #CoalMiners

There have been many books published about the coal mining industry of Britain but relatively few about the miners themselves. This book is unique in that it concentrates on the miner, his family and his work through a careful selection of illustrations. Although most of the images are photographic, and therefore relate to the latter part of the nineteenth to the closing years of twentieth century, use is also made of much earlier sources, from woodcuts and engravings to illustrations in contemporary journals and magazines.

A good deal of the material has come from the author’s own collection, accumulated over many years of research; and also from archive sources. The selection is wide ranging, covering the traditional coal mining regions of Britain, from Scotland and northern England, through the midland coalfields and to Wales, as well as images from smaller coalfields such as Cumbria and Somerset.

Today, coal mining is a virtually a lost industry and the men, women and children involved in what was once Britain’s most important economic but most dangerous activity deserve both recognition and celebration.



I love this kind of book that lets you look back at social history – this one gives an insight in to what was once a very popular industry for decades in the UK – that of Coalmining and this book has the focus on the role of, and the people who occupied the roles of Coal Miners themselves.

My father worked for the Coal Board when I was born, albeit is as an Electrician and not on the actual coal front. Working down the Pit as it was known was quite a common occupation for where we live in the Midlands with my uncle, my dad’s brother being one on the front line. 

I wanted to know more about what it was like after speaking to my dad and this book was an eye opener.  We live now in an area that was predominantly made of mining communities, we have roads named after the different coal seams and coal faces (I didn’t click that’s what they were until reading this book), we have the wheels from the old collieries on roundabouts and in school playgrounds and houses that were built for the communities that worked down the Pit.

The role of the Coal Miner was difficult and many risked their lives daily, some losing them in the disasters that occurred but the majority took provide in their work and loved the camaraderie from the colleagues as they completed the role.

It is 5 stars from me for this one, I really enjoyed finding out more about the topic and loved that I could link this one back to my families own history too – very highly recommended!