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UK Coal Mining Ancestors

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During the industrial revolution of the 19th and early 20th centuries, coal mining was one of the UK's main industries. By the time of the 1911 census, there were over 3,000 mines employing over 1.1 million miners in England, Scotland and Wales. Wales had the largest coal mining percentage, with 1 in 10 people identifying an occupation in the coal mining industry. Begin your research into coal mining ancestors by locating the village in which they lived and using that information to identify the local collieries in which they may have worked. If employee or worker records have survived, your best bet is generally the local Record Office or Archives Service. To further explore the coal mining ancestors in your family tree, these online sites will help you learn how and where to track down employee and accident reports, read first-hand accounts of life as a coal miner, and explore the history of the coal mining industry in England, Scotland and Wales.

1. The Coalmining History Resource Centre

This important resource originally created by Ian Winstanley will give you a glimpse into the lives of your coal mining ancestors through photographs of major collieries, a collection of mining poems, mining maps, and 1842 Royal Commission Reports on the social and working conditions of those involved in the coal mining industry, from coal owners and mine officials, to the men, women and children who worked in the mines. Best of all, the site also offers a searchable database of over 200,000 recorded coal mining accidents and deaths.

2. The Durham Mining Museum

Explore the history of individual collieries, dates of operation, names of managers and other senior staff; the geology of mineshafts; accident reports (including the names of those killed) and additional information on mining in the Northern part of England, including County Durham, Northumberland, Cumberland, Westmorland and the Ironstone mines of North Yorkshire.

3. National Coal Mining Museum for England

Online collections of the National Coal Mining Museum include photographs and descriptions of coal mining related items, letters, accidents, machinery, etc. The library catalog is also searchable online.

4. The Coal and Ironstone Mining of Bradford (Yorkshire) in the 19th Century

This free 76-page PDF booklet explores coal and ironstone mining of Bradford, Yorkshire, in the 19th century, including a history on the mineral deposits of the area, methods for extracting coal and ironstone, the history of the ironworks and the location and names of mines in the Bradford area.

5. Peak District Mines Historical Society - Mines Indexes & Colliery Accidents

This group, dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of mining in the Peak District National Park and much of the surrounding countryside (portions of Derbyshire, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Staffordshire, and South and West Yorkshire), offers online 1896 lists of mine from across England, Scotland and Wales. The site also offers some information on colliery accidents, a collection of newspaper clippings, photographs and other historical mine information.

6. Weardale Museum - Family History

Data from censuses, parish records and gravestone inscriptions have been brought together into a searchable genealogical database called "Weardale People," with 45,000+ individuals representing 300+ interconnected families. If you can't visit the museum in person they can conduct a search for you via an email request. Visit the website to learn more about their historical collections and research of mining families from the parishes of Stanhope and Wolsingham in County Durham.

7. Cornish Mining World Heritage

Cornwall and the far west of Devon provided the majority of the United Kingdom's tin, copper and arsenic from mineral mines uncommon in the rest of the UK. Learn about the mines, the daily life of a mine worker, and the history of mining in this region through photographs, stories, articles and other resources.

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