Britain's Lost Mines: The Vanished Kingdom of the Men who Carved out the Nation's Wealth

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9781781310700: Britain's Lost Mines: The Vanished Kingdom of the Men who Carved out the Nation's Wealth
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From the acclaimed author of Britain's Lost Cricket Grounds and Britain's Lost Breweries, comes a journey underground to the mines that built the nation and defined a century.
Twenty minutes from the Regency elegance of Bath and half an hour from the Glastonbury Festival, you might notice looming over the Somerset village of Paulton what appears to be a dormant volcano. In reality it is a colliery spoil tip, and one of the few reminders that until the 1970s men worked here far beneath the green fields of England - digging for coal. Walk the clifftop path hugging the Cornish coast: those gaunt brick chimneys and wind-ravelled winding-houses are the ruins of a once vast tin-mining industry.
Until very recent times hundreds of thousands of men dug deep underground - sometimes miles out under the sea - for all kinds of minerals and ores, from slate in North Wales to gold in Dorset. Their labour was the most backbreaking of all, amidst swirling dust and sweltering temperatures, and the mines they descended scarred and re-made the landscape. But the closure of Daw Mill colliery in Warwickshire in 2013 confirmed the almost total demise of this once-ubiquitous and proud industry, whose pithead baths and winding-wheels have since disappeared under retail parks, football stadia or at best become part of the heritage industry.
Now, in Britain's Lost Mines, Chris Arnot seeks out thirty lost mines within Britain's shores, from Scotland to Kent, where men mined anything from fluorspar to salt, iron ore to copper, and re-discovers the unique culture that spawned brass bands and male voice choirs, terrifying fast bowlers and rock-hard rugby league players. Illustrated throughout with a stunning array of photographs, and filled with the reminiscences of the ex-miners he meets, he evokes a vanished and truly remarkable way of life for men who did not just work together, but played, sang and drank together as brothers under dust-encrusted skin, looking out for one another as they risked their lives daily. Within a generation, most of our miners will no longer be with us; this mesmerising book will help ensure their history is in no danger of being buried forever.

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About the Author:

Chris Arnot is a national freelance feature writer who has written on specialist subjects including arts and education, property, pubs, food and travel. A regular contributor to the Guardian, he has also written for the Daily Telegraph, the Independent and the Observer. He co-wrote The Archers Archives for BBC Books and his book, Britain's Lost Cricket Grounds, was long-listed for the MCC's cricket book of the year in 2011. He is also the author of Britain's Lost Breweries and Beers, published by Aurum.

Review:

'A gorgeous tribute to a whole world which has vanished. It's hard not to be moved by the scale and importance of what has disappeared - an extraordinary gallery of lives and landscape'



'A portrait of life in mining communities in all its aspects, both work and leisure.'

'One of those social histories that forcefully remind you of two almost contradictory things. On the one hand, the world that the book conjures up has now disappeared so utterly as to be virtually unimaginable - especially for younger readers. On the other, it was there comfortably within living memory - which is why Chris Arnot is able to get such terrific oral testimony from the people who lived it all... Even so, this is not a sentimental book; it leaves us in no doubt about either the harshness of the work or how tough miners could be with one another.'ÿ

`At least there are books like this ÿto remember their struggle by.'

'A gorgeous tribute to a whole world which has vanished. It's hard not to be moved by the scale and importance of what has disappeared - an extraordinary gallery of lives and landscape'



‘At least there are books like this  to remember their struggle by.’



'One of those social histories that forcefully remind you of two almost contradictory things. On the one hand, the world that the book conjures up has now disappeared so utterly as to be virtually unimaginable - especially for younger readers. On the other, it was there comfortably within living memory - which is why Chris Arnot is able to get such terrific oral testimony from the people who lived it all... Even so, this is not a sentimental book; it leaves us in no doubt about either the harshness of the work or how tough miners could be with one another.' 

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