As one of the largest cities in the North of England Leeds, historically built its reputation on the wool trade. So it is not the first name you would associate with coal mining unlike other Yorkshire towns and cities such as Wakefield, Barnsley and Doncaster.

But a deeper look into the city’s history would reveal that coal mining has played a significant role going back to the 1200s, when the Romans were the first to establish coal mining in the Garforth area of Leeds. Even Rothwell Colliery which closed in 1983 has a recorded history going back to the 18th Century.

During the Medieval period of Leeds’ history where the City Centre now stands and in particular the area now known as Briggate it has been revealed was the site of ‘Bell Pits’. These were coal mines where excavation was done by hand by miners. The coal mining industry in Leeds also gave it the ability to develop its railways. The Middleton Railway constructed 1758 would transport coal from the Middleton area into the city.

Coal mining also played a role in the development of transport in general; the Aire and Calder Navigation canal simplified the transport of heavy loads. This in turn helped create more collieries in Leeds.

At the height of his coal mining prominence Leeds had 111 mines, spread across eastern, western and southern areas.

Even during the early 20th Century Leeds continued coal production and its importance was highlighted during the Second World War. Young men known as the Bevin Boys were conscripted by the British Army to work in the coal mines. The efforts of Bevin Boys were vital in war effort but largely went unnoticed.

The coal industry was overhauled during its nationalisation in January 1947 and the effects of this were felt in Leeds when 11 mines were taken over by the National Coal Board. It has been revealed that in at least 7 mines across the city including Middleton, Rothwell and Savile employed nearly 4000 men.

By the time that the dust had settled on the Miners Strike which began in early May 1984, mining had ceased in Leeds by 1986.

The dangers of the mining industry have been prevalent which many miners suffering from physical injuries. With the advancement of mining technology also came new risks to miners wellbeing. In particular a condition called Vibration White Finger, which stemmed for the use of vibrating tools.


Jordans Solicitors has a department working with former miners looking into Vibration White Finger claims they made as it has come to light that many miners missed out on £1000s. If you are a former miner and think you may have a claim, contact a member of our VWF team free on 03303 001103 or request a call back and a member of our team will be in touch with you.

Related Blog Articles