Most of the songs in this category come from the coalfields of north east England

Main Themes and Motifs

- Celebration of the coal mining community
- The technical achievements of the coal industry
- Hardships of the colliers life
- Social change brought about by steam


1820-29   153; 422
1830-39   054; 141
1840-49   504; 370

Uncertain: 421

Historical Background



A view of Middleton Colliery showing one of the first steam locomotives and in the background a steam pump.

From Costumes of Yorkshire 1814
by G. Walker


The empire of steam was built on coal. Wood or charcoal can be used to fire an engine but to get a good head of steam coal is required. Coal was both the fuel that made steam locomotives possible and the reason they were created. The first railways were built to move coal and coal was always its most important single freight. Steam ships need coal, coal was a staple cargo and ensuring the supply of coal was fundamental to the development of the British economy, the Royal Navy and thus the British Empire.

3 across Articles in this Category: click a link

Haswell Cages

bar151: Dates 1838~1840|

Celebrates of the installation of steam-powered cages at Haswell Mine and mentions the railway used to carry coals to Hartlepool and steam ships used for pleasure trips.

Collier Lass (The)

bar504: Dates 1840~1844|

The heroine tells of her life as a child labour in coal mines and refers to the dangers posed by steam locomotives.

Stockton Bridge

bar422: Dates 1821~1825|

Celebrates the Stockton-Darlington railway bridge, the passage of the Act that enabled the construction of the Stockton and Darlington railway; and the concomitant failure of a rival...

Hetton Coals

bar153: Dates 1822~1822|

Celebrates the opening of the colliery and mentions the new wagon way built by George Stephenson

Five O'Clock in the Morning

bar370: Dates 1838~U|

Mentions enigines lifiting the cage

the miners song, down amongst the coals.

bar421: Dates 1848~1861|

Mentions George Stephenson and steam power

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