Estimate of British Coal Production – 1750-1850

Category: Coal, Globalization
Last Updated: 23 Jun 2020
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To do this part of the assignment I visited Whitehaven harbour to try and find evidence to answer this question. On this visit we went to many different places around the harbour that we thought would have a connection to the coal trade and the harbour.

First, we visited the lime tongue, the name tells us that they imported lime for the iron industry and unloaded it on this pier. There is also another pier called the Sugar tongue, the name tells me that they imported sugar and unloaded it onto this pier. From this we can tell that goods were also imported into the port of Whitehaven. I know that from my background knowledge of coal that it would not have been possible to unload the coal onto either of these piers because they are too thin to unload heavy, bulky coal.

To support the evidence further of having other exports and imports, we found drawings and inscriptions on benches down the lime tongue. These drawings included coal that we know was exported, tobacco that was imported from Virginia, timber which was imported from North America for the coal industry to be used as pit props and fish were exported. We also found the old Custom House, pictured right, which tells us that goods did come in to the port of Whitehaven and people had to pay custom duties on them. From all this evidence I can deduce that not only was coal exported from Whitehaven Harbour but other goods were also exported and imported into the port.

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By looking down at the harbour I could see that it was a very suitable place to have an inlet. The harbour has a big headland to protect it from prevailing winds and the size of the harbour would be very good for small boats. Another reason that it was a good place for an inlet is because it would have been a way of bringing business and money to the town of Whitehaven so they would get something back in return for building the harbour.

From looking at the harbour I could see that it was quite small, not very wide, not very deep and wouldn't be suitable for bigger boats. This would be a problem for Whitehaven harbour, as by the 1870's steam ships were replacing the sailing ships. These steam ships were longer, wider, deeper and could carry more than the sailing ships which would mean that they wouldn't be able to get into the harbour so they wouldn't be able to load up the coal.

By looking across the sea and from my background knowledge I think that most of the coal from Whitehaven went across the sea to Ireland. This could be especially to Dublin since this was Britain's second largest city in the eighteenth century. It could have also been taken to the Isle of Man since this is also only across the sea.

Whitehaven harbour has only had the lock gates for about ten years, so before this boats could only come in and out of the harbour at high tide. As you can see from the picture, on the left, which I found in an old newspaper, the harbour would have been mud at low tide, so the boats would have been unable to move. From this I can tell that the Harbour must have stopped developing for the lock gates not to have been installed earlier, because the lock gates have been a big improvement to the harbour meaning boats can leave and enter the harbour when they wish.

Whitehaven's hinterland extended to surrounding places like Egremont and most of West Cumbria because the roads were so bad this made more people want to transport the coal by boat. Before we went on the trip to Whitehaven we watched a video called 'Sail to Steam' which showed the port of Liverpool and showed how its hinterland grew especially after the coming of the railways. Having watched this video I think one reason why Whitehaven's hinterland stopped growing was because Liverpool was taking trade away from Whitehaven. This was because it was a more accessible port for the bigger ships and also because Liverpool had lock gates, which meant ships, could go in and out of the harbour when they needed to.

By looking at the map of the 'building of the harbour' I can see that most of the harbour developed between 1693 and 1833 which is just about the period we are looking at. I think coal could have played a big part in the development of the harbour because this was about the time when coal mining was becoming popular in Whitehaven. They also needed a way to transport the coal from Whitehaven to places where they needed it, so they kept developing the harbour as the coal industry was developing and growing. The extra piers were built for the loading of coal when extra space was needed around the harbour for the various ships to land and wait to be loaded. This must have seemed an extremely good idea because then they could transport the coal to Ireland, which had little or no coal and was only over the channel.

When we were walking around the harbour we found an old canon, which must have once been used to defend the port, this is pictured on the right. This tells me that Whitehaven's coal trade must have been very valuable for it to have been protected.e found some models linked to the story of John Paul Jones, which aren't really relevant to this assignment because they have nothing to do with the coal We also had an extract of John Paul Jones' diary to look at, in this extract it said about all the ships in the harbour (over one hundred) at low tide were unable to move because of the mud. This shows that in 1778 the harbour was very busy but there was a problem with low tides making boats unable to move.

We also went to look for any evidence of warehouses and railway lines around the harbour but couldn't find any. We know they were once there because we have seen an old photograph of them. This suggests that Whitehaven's port has declined in industry because otherwise the warehouses would still be there but I wouldn't have expected any evidence of the railway lines. This is because the railways would not have been needed anymore once the coal mining had stopped. This then suggests to me that as the coal mining industry declined so did the amount of industry going in and out of the port. This tells me that coal mining had a big effect on Whitehaven's port and was also very important to it.

From the graph I drew on the rise and fall of Whitehaven port I can see that the peak of the coal exported was in 1835, when the amount of coal exported was 459 thousand tons. After this date the amount of coal exported began to fall. This tells me that either the coal was being transported by another means of transport, such as the railways, or not as much coal was being mined in Whitehaven. Either way this tells me that the coal exports out of the port of Whitehaven was decreasing.

On the visit we looked for evidence of drift mines (or adits), which are mines cut into the side of a hill held up by pit props, but we couldn't see any. This will have been because drift mines weren't very deep because of faulting, the risk of flooding and the danger of a roof fall so many of the drift mines will have collapsed and will have been flattened over. Also quite a few of the drift mines were on Mount Pleasant which is where later they built the houses for the coal miners to live.

I also looked for evidence of straithes but couldn't find any. Straithes were used to load coal from trucks onto boats quickly, they were particularly important to the port of Whitehaven, which was tidal, because they needed to load the boats quickly to get them in and out on the same tide. The straithes will have been removed because they will have been no longer needed because there is no coal trade in Whitehaven now.

We also went to look at Mount Pleasant, which is where all the miners lived but now there are no houses there. This would be because they would be no longer needed, because as the coal trade decreased fewer people would be employed so they didn't need the housing facilities. Mount Pleasant used to have 200 terraced houses, which were homes to 1825 people. Mount Pleasant was not far away from any of the mines so this would have made it very convenient for the workers to get to work.

On the visit we went to look at the Duke pit fan house. We know this is connected to coal mining because Duke pit means there is coal. The job of the fan house was very important, it was to circulate the air down the mine. By looking at this picture of the fan house I have calculated that the actual size of the fan wheel would have been about 20-25ft wide. This tells me that it was a big pit, which would have had lots of coal to mine and would have had lots of employee's.

As we were walking along I noticed evidence of an old railway incline, as you can see from the pictures the railway line would have ran from Haig pit down to the harbour for the coal to be loaded onto ships. This would have made it very easy to transport the coal. Although Haig pit operated after the period that I am investigating, it leads me to believe that other pits will have had railways or wagon ways down to the harbour. This will be because the harbour is not very far away from any of the mines and it would cost too much to transport the heavy coal on land especially since the roads were so bad.

As we walked towards the Wellington pit entrance I found lots of covered over air vents. These air vents will have been used to get fresh air into the mines, which is a very important thing to have in a mine.

We visited the entrance to Wellington pit, where I noticed a plaque on the wall telling me that the pit operated between 1840-1933. These dates during the pit was working are significant because it worked for nearly one hundred years. This is a very long time for a mine to work, so this tells me that the mine must have been big, and must have lots of coal to mine. Also to back up this evidence is the diagram 'Underneath Wellington Pit', this shows that the pit was very deep and had lots of coal seams, which were quite wide. Wellington pit is very close to the harbour (about 100 yards) this tells me that this would have been the most convenient and cost effective way of transporting the coal to wherever it had to go. Wellington pit is also very close to Duke pit, which suggests that they could have been linked.

I also went to look at the candlestick chimney, which is called this because it looks like a candlestick. If you look at the picture you can see that the chimney is very tall, this suggests to me that it is not only an air vent but also it was an exit for poisonous gases. This is so that the gases went higher than Mount Pleasant, which is where all the miners lived so that the miners did not get poisoned.

I also found evidence that there were mining disasters on a plaque on the wall near Wellington pit. It told me that in 1910, 136 people died in the Wellington Pit disaster. This tells me that coal mining was very dangerous. Also, other evidence that shows us mining was dangerous is the building called the mission which used to be the hospital. This suggests that there must have been a number of accidents for a hospital to have been this close to the mines.

If I had time then it would have been interesting to look for some of the remains of other pits that have something significant about them. The King Pit is interesting because in 1793 it was the deepest coal mine, as it was about 960ft deep. The Haig pit would have been interesting because it was the last pit to have been operating in the area and it went 7 miles under the sea. The Saltom pit would have been interesting because it was the first mine to mine coal under the sea.

From all of this evidence I have come to a number of conclusions. I have concluded that coal was the main export and was exported in large quantities. There were also different imports at different times between 1700 and 1900. The evidence that proves this is the old customhouse where the imports had to pay custom duties on the goods imported also the lime and sugar tongues, tell us that sugar and lime, were imported. The graph on the rise and fall of Whitehaven shows that a lot of coal was exported.

I have come to the conclusion that Whitehaven was perfect for the transportation of coal up until the late 1800's.The size and shape of the harbour and headland was just right for the small sailing boats, the headland protected these boats from prevailing winds. In the 1870's steam ships became popular, this would cause problems for Whitehaven as the harbour would have been too small for these big steam ships. The harbour was also perfect for transporting coal because it was close to all the mines in Whitehaven so this would mean that the coal would not have to travel far to be loaded onto the ships.

I have also come to the conclusion that Whitehaven harbour was more important in 1700 and 1800 than it was in 1900. To support this is the graph the rise and fall of Whitehaven that shows us that the amount of coal that was exported. The amount of coal exported began to decline about the time of the railways and steam ships becoming popular, which could mean that the harbour wasn't being used as much for the export of coal and also because of the railways and steam ships Whitehaven's hinterland began to decrease.

My final conclusion is that coal helped the harbour grow. Most of the evidence points to this, such as the building of the harbour at the time when coal mining was becoming popular. Also, when they stopped mining as much coal and they found other ways of transporting it, the harbour stopped growing and went into decline, this is why the lock gates were only just recently added to the harbour. From this I can tell that the industrial revolution must have also played a very important part in the development of Whitehaven Harbour. This is because if the industrial revolution hadn't happened then there would have not been a big demand for coal. So therefore the coal industry in Whitehaven might have never got as big and they might not have opened as many mines, which would mean that there would have been little point in developing the harbour for such a small amount of coal. This answers the objective of the whole assignment that the coal trade appears to have been very important in the development of the port of Whitehaven between 1700 and 1900

How useful were the site and other sources in helping you to the answer the question which is part 1?

In part one of my assignment I considered what I could learn by visiting the harbour itself about why the port of Whitehaven had changed and developed up to the 20th century. The conclusion that I reached at the end of part 1 was briefly this: The coal trade had a very important part in the development of the harbour but there were other imports as well. Coal was not the only reason that the harbour stopped developing because things like the steam ships, which weren't accessible into the port of Whitehaven and the railways, stopped it developing. Also because of Whitehaven had no lock gates, which put it at a disadvantage. This meant that Whitehaven harbour was more important in 1700 and in 1800 than in 1900.

I am now going to select some other sources to do with the port of Whitehaven and judge each one according to how useful it is in explaining the development of the harbour compared with the evidence of the harbour itself. The sources I have chosen to consider are:

1) The Beacon centre

2) John Paul Jones feature film

3) John Paul Jones diary

4) Census Results

5) Sail to Steam video

The first source I will be considering is the beacon centre, which is a museum about the history of Whitehaven. The Beacon centre is relevant to the question because it does give information about the coal mining. The Beacon centre also contains information about the John Paul Jones raid, the slave trade, railways, ships, the Lowther family and much more. The Beacon centre is typical because it tells us about the history of Whitehaven and surrounding areas. It was opened in 1996 to inform people about the history of West Cumbria. I think that the Beacon centre was put there for tourism rather than for historians to find evidence. My evidence for this is because the Beacon centre has a rather big section on John Paul Jones compared to a relatively small section on coal mining. Even though the raid of John Paul Jones only lasted a few hours in the history of Whitehaven and the coal mining industry lasted over 200 years.

So this tells me that the Beacon centre is trying to attract American tourists by having a large section on John Paul Jones, since this is why most American tourists come to Whitehaven to see where John Paul Jones raided. Other evidence of it being there for tourism is because when we went it was a free week so this means that it is trying to attract locals to visit it and see how good it is. This is so that when the summer season starts and tourists ask locals where to go to look around Whitehaven they will tell them to go to the Beacon Centre. This would mean that the Beacon centre would make more money. I think that this source is reliable because they wouldn't tell people about subjects that weren't true. Compared to the harbour, the beacon centre is not very useful in explaining the development of the harbour because it doesn't contain enough evidence since it is just there for tourism so it puts information in to it that people will be interested in and want to find out about.

Now I will be judging an extract from the John Paul Jones feature film. This source is relevant because it does mention Whitehaven harbour. We saw an attack on Whitehaven harbour; the men in the attack burnt shipping to frighten British merchants so that they got British troops to guard the port. This was so that they got some of the troops away from America, so they had more chance of winning the war. This film was produced to make money because John Paul Jones would be popular with Americans so that would encourage more people to go and watch it therefore making more money. It was made in Hollywood and not even the raid on Whitehaven was actually filmed in Whitehaven.

This tells me that the film was produced to make money because if it were for any other use than they would have spent the time and money to reconstruct the event in Whitehaven for the film. This source is reliable in one way in that the raid in Whitehaven did happen by John Paul Jones but we don't know the actual words that he said so the words on the film are unreliable. The film extract isn't typical because it isn't every night that Whitehaven would have had a big raid. Compared to the harbour, I don't think that this source was very useful because it was produced to make money rather than to inform us. The film extract didn't contain enough information about the development of the harbour like the size and shape of it and it didn't mention the coal trade.

I am now going to judge an extract from John Paul Jones diary. It says that over one hundred ships were in the port on that night. The diary extract is relevant because it tells us what a typical night in Whitehaven Port was like. We know that it was typical because Whitehaven was not expecting a raid so it was just a normal night until it happened. John Paul Jones produced this diary and it was produced for his own purposes to write down about the day's events. And because it was a diary we can say that it is reliable because you wouldn't expect anyone to read your diary, so it was just written for his own purposes although he could have been bias towards his own country. I don't think that the diary extract was as useful at answering the question from part one than the harbour was. This is because although the extract gave us valuable information about the harbour at the time it didn't tell us about the coal trade or about the development of the harbour. All it tells us is that the harbour was busy and that it was low tide because the harbour was just mud.

We watched a video called Sail to Steam, which I am now going to judge. This video was a documentary and although it didn't even mention Whitehaven it gave us information about the development and growth of Liverpool port which we can relate to the port of Whitehaven so it is relevant. It told us that the coming of the railways increased Liverpool's hinterland and that the lock gates improved the port because they no longer had to wait for the high tides to come in and out of the port. It also told us about the change from sailboats to steam ships that could carry more and were bigger. From this I could tell that Whitehaven was at a disadvantage because it didn't have lock gates, the port would have been to small for the big steam ships and the coming of the railways decreased Whitehaven harbours growth and hinterland.

This documentary was produced to inform people about the changes from sail to steam especially in the port of Liverpool. From this I can tell that the information given is accurate and reliable because they wouldn't produce a documentary with inaccurate information. This source is typical because it shows how the port of Liverpool grew over the years. I think that although this source was useful in telling us why Whitehaven port might have stopped growing that it is not as useful as the harbour itself. This is because it doesn't contain information about Whitehaven port and its development and it doesn't tell us about Whitehaven's coal trade.

I am now going to analyse the census results. The census results are relevant to the question in part one because they show us how many people lived on Mount Pleasant and it shows the different jobs they had. This then gives us an idea of how many people work down the mines and this then tells us how important the coal mining industry was to the people of Whitehaven. The census was produced in 1851 for the government, to inform them of how many people there were in the country. A census is an official count of the population so this tells me that the census is accurate and reliable because they wouldn't produce a census that was wrong because it would have been a waste of money. Although the census results are useful I don't think that they are as useful as the harbour itself because it doesn't give us enough information about the coal trade and it doesn't tell us anything about the harbour.

If we could have had the resources I would have also liked to have had the figures for the amount of coal mined in the area between 1700 and 1900. This would have been useful because I could have compared it to the amount of coal exported from the port and then I could have seen just how much the harbour became more useful for the exportation and coal. Also I would have been able to look for a decline in the amount of coal exported compared to the amount mined when the railways became popular, to see if railways did take some of Whitehaven's hinterland away from it. I would also have liked to have had a diary extract from a person who worked down the mines. This would have been useful to find out the day to day workings of the mines.

In part 1 I found that coal was very important to the port of Whitehaven but other things were imported as well but as steam ships became popular the harbour was at a disadvantage because the harbour was too small for these big steam ships. Also Whitehaven didn't have lock gates so this put it at a disadvantage because it meant the boats had to wait until high tide to come in and out of the harbour. This meant that Whitehaven harbour was more important in 1700 and 1800 than in 1900.

I have concluded for this part of the assignment that the beacon centre is only there to attract tourists and to make money. I have also concluded that the John Paul Jones video is also just a way of making money and not about informing historians about the raid on Whitehaven harbour. My conclusion of John Paul Jones diary extract is that although it was useful in telling me about a typical night in the harbour it does not contain enough information about the harbour or about the coal trade. I have also concluded that the sail to steam video was useful in telling me about the development from sail boats to steam ships but it did not contain any information about Whitehaven. I have come to the conclusion that although the census results tell us a lot of information about the amount of people living on Mount Pleasant and the amount of people working down the mine it doesn't give us sufficient evidence to answer the question that is part 1.

My conclusion that the visit to Whitehaven harbour was much more useful to me in answering the question that is part 1 than any of the other sources. Whitehaven harbour contained lots of unwitting evidence about the harbour and how it developed between 1700 and 1900. It also gave me a lot of information about the coal trade and how it relied on the harbour to be exported. This source contained information about both the harbour and the coal trade so this makes it very useful and also reliable because we can see the evidence. This source is also typical because it contains the remains of things (like the mines) that were actually there between 1700 and 1900

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Estimate of British Coal Production – 1750-1850. (2017, Sep 07). Retrieved from

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