As well as the rockfalls depicted in this 1869 engraving, miners faced poisonous gases, flooding and other hazards to win the coal Britain increasingly depended upon.
Image: Science Museum / SSPL

Working in coal mines

As coal mines became deeper, so they also became even more dangerous. Mining employed hundreds of thousands of men, women and children, working in appalling conditions.

Coal improved people's living standards. It could be used for heating and cooking, or distilled to produce gas for lighting. Rail and water transport relied on coal, making travel easier for many people.

But although living standards were raised, the human price of coal was high.