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Coal Mining

Staffordshire has a long history of coal mining, with coalfields stretching across parts of the north, centre and south of the county. Over the centuries, thousands of local people were involved in coal mining, communities and settlements developed and dispersed, and transport links created to facilitate the movement of coal. Many places were defined by the coal industry, and traces of this influence remain to this day. 

Unfortunately, record-keeping was not a strong point of the industry until nationalisation in 1947. Many early pits were small-scale operations run by short-lived partnerships, so it can be difficult to research individual collieries. Some others, such as the sixteenth century mining operations on the estates of the Lords Paget on Cannock Chase, are better evidenced. The Colliery Records online guide (linked below) is a helpful starting point, but it is not exhaustive.

It may be the case that the researcher will need to consult more general sources, such as maps, newspapers and trade directories in order to gather information about a specific colliery. Even then, it may prove difficult to identify some of the older collieries. A good overview of the industry is provided by the Victoria County History. In some cases, individual mine histories have been written, and these may be held at the William Salt Library or Stoke on Trent City Archives. One such example is the series on the Cannock Chase coalfield by the Cannock Chase Mining Historical Society.

For a free guide to the Archive Service's holdings of manorial records in PDF format, please see the Guides to Sources page on this website (Guide to Sources No. 6 : Colliery Records).

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