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On Behalf of the People: Work, Community and Class in the British Coal Industry 1947-1994

This project examines the economic, political and social history of the nationalised British coal industry (1947–1994). Through a study of eight collieries located in England, Scotland, and Wales, the project explores the rich and complex history of the nationalised industry, mining communities and the lives of those who worked in the industry and their families. 

When working on this project researchers have examined surviving records from the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and NCB in local record offices and the National Archives. We have interviewed a wide range of people at each pit, both those who worked at the pit and members of the wider community. 

The ‘On Behalf of the People’ project gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).  In particular, we would like to thank the many former industry employees and their families who have shared their memories with the project and welcomed us in to their homes. We are also greatful to the many archivists and librarians who provided valuable support. 

Research Team

Professor Keith Gildart is the principal investigator on the project and Professor of Labour and Social History at the University of Wolverhampton, UK. He has published widely on coal mining history, working class culture, and labour biography. His books include North Wales Miners: A Fragile Unity 1945-1996 (University of Wales Press, 2001), Coal in Victorian Britain Vol. 6 (Routledge, 2012), Images of England through Popular Music: Class, Youth and Rock 'n' Roll 1955-1976 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and Keeping the Faith: A History of Northern Soul (Manchester University Press, 2020). He is a long-standing editor of the Dictionary of Labour Biography. 

Professor Andrew Perchard is co-investigator on the project and Professor of Industry & Society at Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University. He is the author of The Mine Management Professions in the Twentieth Century Scottish Coal Mining Industry (2007) and Aluminiumville: Government, Global Business and the Scottish Highlands (2012) and co-editor of Tin and Global Capitalism: A history of the “Devil’s Metal” (2014) and The Deindustrialized World: Industrial Ruination in Postindustrial Places (2017).   He was previously head of energy supply policy at the Scottish Executive (now Scottish Government).

Dr Ben Curtis is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the project at the University of Wolverhampton. He is a historian of modern South Wales, the coal industry, industrial disability, and de/industrialisation.

Dr Grace Millar is a labour historian with particular interest in oral history methodology. Her PhD thesis is on the 1951 dockers’ strike in New Zealand and its impact upon the dock-working community.

Project Partners

Project Partners


The General Federation of Trade Unions and The National Mining Museums of EnglandScotland and Wales are partners on the project.  They have had representation on the advisory board. Other board members include representatives from miners' organisations and academics.  We thank the board members and the project partners for their support of this project.

General Federation of Trade Unions logo.  Contains a pink and orange image with a stylised 'g' and 'f' and then the the initials GFTU in grey
Big Pit logo, orange on a white background with the text at different angles.  Text: 'big pit amgueddfa lofaol cymru, national coal museum'
Logo of the National Coal Mining Museum of Scotland. A stylised imagery of a colliery in black on a white background, most of the text is in black on the same background the word 'Scotland' is white on a red background


We want the material on this website to be accessible to as many people as possible.  We have provided transcripts to the oral history material and images of documents, and alt-text image descriptions to documents.  Please contact us with any feedback about the accessibility of the site.

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