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.