Coal is something which we all need in some way or other. We need coal to produce heat and light for our homes and offices; our industry needs coal to provide many commercial and household goods to export all over the world. Different types of coal are often found in a coalfield. There are ‘coking coal’, for instance which, when mined, aren’t used for home consumption but are valuable for the blast furnaces of a steel works. Then there is anthracite, a hard kind of coal which burns with a very intense heat.
Coal is still mined today by men going down into the earth and risking their lives to bring the coal from the seams up to the surface. Despite a great many new safety measures mining is still a difficult and dangerous job. At least the practice of taking children to work down the mineshafts has ceased now, although pitponies are still used to pull loads of coal underground. There are quite a few mines in Britain, mostly in Wales, Scotland and North-East England. A world famous mining area is that of the Ruhr valley in Western Germany.