The Neston Collieries, 1759–1855: An Industrial Revolution in Rural Cheshire

By Anthony Annakin-Smith. University of Chester. £19.99. Available from the publisher and the usual booksellers from 29 November 2019

The early Neston collieries operated for almost 100 years and were notable in many ways, for example for the devastating acts of sabotage committed by one mine owner on the neighbouring works, for the use of canals for hauling coal deep under the Dee Estuary, and for introducing the earliest steam engine in west Cheshire. There are also links to famous names such as George Stephenson and Nelson’s future mistress, Emma, Lady Hamilton.

The extensively illustrated book gives a comprehensive review of every aspect of the early Neston collieries – not just how the mines operated but also, for example, the social background of the colliers including their health, children, education and living conditions; the operation of the land and sea trades which saw Neston’s coal shipped as far as the Americas; and the network of links to Chester, Wales, Lancashire and beyond which enabled the mines to survive. Comprehensive research into the life of every known Neston collier means that there is a wealth of information on the often pitiful lives of the men and children who worked at the mines. Events are placed in the context of the profound changes which were affecting Britain during the Industrial Revolution.

The book will appeal to those with an interest in industrial, social or local history as well as to family historians.