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David M. Turner
Daniel Blackie

Disability and work in the coal economy 23 1 DISABILITY AND WORK IN THE COAL ECONOMY Thomas Burt’s early memories of mining were haunted by the sight of the mutilated bodies of his fellow workers. Remembering his work as a teenage pony putter in the 1850s, responsible for moving coal underground at Murton Colliery, County Durham, Burt recalled that ‘everywhere, below ground and above, dangers stood thick’. Compounded by the ‘rush and recklessness’ of workers there, these dangers meant accidents were common. ‘Never’, he wrote in his autobiography published

in Disability in the Industrial Revolution
Physical impairment in British coalmining, 1780–1880

This book sheds new light on the human cost of industrialisation by examining the lives and experiences of those disabled in an industry that was vital to Britain's economic growth. If disability has been largely absent from conventional histories of industrialisation, the Industrial Revolution has assumed great significance in disability studies. The book examines the economic and welfare responses to disease, injury and impairment among coal workers. It discusses experiences of disability within the context of social relations and the industrial politics of coalfield communities. The book provides the context for those that follow by providing an overview of the conditions of work in British coalmining between 1780 and 1880. It turns its attention to the principal causes of disablement in the nineteenth-century coal industry and the medical responses to them. The book then extends the discussion of responses to disability by examining the welfare provisions for miners with long-term restrictive health conditions. It also examines how miners and their families negotiated a 'mixed economy' of welfare, comprising family and community support, the Poor Law, and voluntary self-help as well as employer paternalism. The book shifts attention away from medicine and welfare towards the ways in which disability affected social relations within coalfield communities. Finally, it explores the place of disability in industrial politics and how fluctuating industrial relations affected the experiences of disabled people in the coalfields.

Paul Warde

that the coordinating efforts of the Crown, an output quota system, and the fortunate conjunction of two key resources (fuel and ore) meant that Sweden did not fall relatively further behind, unlike its eastern neighbours. In contrast, England benefited strongly (but by no means solely) from its resource endowment. It was an essential characteristic of the burgeoning coal economy that it permitted ‘punctiform’ growth, with strong linkages and complementarities between sectors, including with the ‘organic’ economy in which it was for so long embedded. But this

in History, historians and development policy