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Fifty Years of Coal-mining Productivity: The Record of the British Coal Industry before 1939

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 March 2009

David Greasley
The author is Lecturer in Economic History at the University of Edinburgh. Edinburgh, Scotland.


A downward trend in British coal-mining productivity was reversed between the world wars. Declining productivity before 1914 was accompanied by wide regional differences, especially at the coalface. Scotland attained the best overall. productivity, while coalface productivity was highest in Durham and Northumberland. Regional differences narrowed by the 1920s but re-emerged in the 1930s, as mines in the North Midlands outpaced the productivity gains made elsewhere. Only a multifaceted interpretation can explain these distinctive patterns—over time, between regions, and at different stages of the coal-mining operation.

Copyright © The Economic History Association 1990

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