The Shadow of the Mine

The Shadow of the Mine:Coal and the End of Industrial Britain

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No one personified the age of industry more than the miners. The Shadow of the Mine tells the story of King Coal in its heyday – and what happened to mining communities after the last pits closed.

Coal was central to the British economy, powering its factories and railways. It carried political weight, too. In the eighties the miners risked everything in a year-long strike against Thatcher’s shutdowns. Defeat foretold the death of their industry. Tens of thousands were cast onto the labour market with a minimum amount of advice and support.

Yet British politics all of a sudden revolves around the coalfield constituencies that lent their votes to Boris Johnson’s Conservatives in 2019. Even in the Welsh Valleys, where the ‘red wall’ still stands, support for the Labour Party has halved in a generation.

Huw Beynon and Ray Hudson draw on decades of research to chronicle these momentous changes through the words of the people who lived through them.


  • A powerful study of tumultuous political events steeped in knowledge of the coalfields. Essential reading for all those who care about the future – and hence the past – of working-class politics.

    Hilary Wainwright, author of A New Politics from the Left
  • After defeat by Thatcher, the pits were levelled and the Miners' Welfare Halls, their social and intellectual centres, vanished. With carefully controlled passion, this book indicts such ruthless disregard for the values of care and association.

    Sheila Rowbotham, author of Daring to Hope
  • Drawing on decades of research ... [The Shadow of the Mine] is a moving account of 150 years of coalfield history ... By tracing the "deep story" of the marginalisation of Britain’s coalfields, it aims to understand the continuing exclusion of working-class people in deindustrialised areas from political and social life.

    Diarmaid KelliherAntipode