The Neston Collieries, 1759-1855
: an industrial revolution in rural Cheshire

  • Anthony Annakin-Smith

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

    Abstract

    This Commentary relates to a single published work, The Neston Collieries 1759-1855: An Industrial Revolution in Rural Cheshire.
    The book uses a microhistorical approach to study the establishment, conduct and closure of two collieries (principally Ness Colliery) in Neston, Cheshire between 1759 and 1855. The period broadly coincides with the Industrial Revolution and the book seeks to identify how the owners and workers experienced this ‘revolution’.
    This Commentary gives an overview of the use of the microhistorical approach and contextualises the book with other studies with which it has common ground. It argues that the book is unusual, if not unique, in being a book-length microhistorical study of a British colliery during the Industrial Revolution, especially in its coverage of eighteenth-century developments. The book is also important in terms of the breadth of its subject-matter, giving
    an holistic view of the operational, commercial and social aspects of the works.
    To achieve its microhistorical focus, extensive use was made of archival material and the Commentary explores the principal such material and how it was used. It will be seen that these sources were able to generate valuable insights into the collieries and the colliery community at both an aggregate and granular level. Granularity was particularly important in gaining insight into the lived experience of the colliers and their family members throughout the period in multiple facets of their lives.
    The Commentary argues that, by virtue of its focus, the book demonstrates that the Neston collieries did not fit with many of the generalisations of ‘macro’ studies of the period. The Commentary also shows that detailed analysis was able to address misunderstandings and omissions of knowledge concerning Ness Colliery’s significance.
    It will be argued that the book has made a significant contribution to advancing the historiography of coal mining and the Industrial Revolution, particularly insofar as North-West England and North Wales are concerned.
    Date of AwardJan 2022
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorKarl Bell (Supervisor) & Mike Esbester (Supervisor)

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