Download The Riches Beneath our Feet: How Mining Shaped Britain by Geoff Coyle PDF

By Geoff Coyle

Britain's mining and quarrying industries date again to the Stone Age flint mines of 2500 BC and nonetheless exist. In that interval of greater than 4,000 years the country's miners have produced great quantities of copper, tin, lead, zinc, iron, loads of silver and a few gold, and smaller quantities of virtually some other steel from arsenic to uranium.

The metals have been the root of our commercial wealth and straightforwardness of dwelling yet they have been pushed via King Coal, which at its height hired one million males and produced greater than two hundred million plenty a 12 months. Granite from Scotland, limestone from Southern England, sandstone and Welsh slate supplied our houses, factories, roads and harbours. None of this would were completed with no the genius of engineers similar to James Watt, and the discovery of strong steam engines and plenty of different technical advances. Our success during this cornucopia of wealth derives from the Island's spectacular geological historical past: what's now Southern England used to be at the Antarctic Circle.

Professor Geoff Coyle, a former mining engineer and from a mining relatives himself, sketches the tale of the way mining has formed Britain. The account is extensive ranging, related to tales of the mineral wealth of england and its exploitation, from easy quarrying to the appearance of mass construction. There are stories of the miners' lives and the nice mining households, in addition to bills of the miner's paintings, the stipulations within the mines, and mining mess ups. Coyle weaves his own adventure and fervour into the tale, illuminating the commercial background, geology, and expertise. each one bankruptcy highlights one of many major mining fields and explores the mineral in query, its exploitation, and the way technological adjustments affected the mining innovations used.

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Bronze resists corrosion and can be cast without voids, which made it good for cannon, while its low friction is an advantage for shaft bearings. Brass was used for household utensils, and old brass kettles and candlesticks are now valued as ornaments. Plates and candlesticks were made from pewter. Bronze, brass, and pewter are, though, rather broad-brush terms, as, depending on the precise mix of the alloy, their properties can be varied considerably, giving them even more applications: church bells, for example, are cast from a type of brass called bell metal.

Fortunately, patient tracing of the sequence of different types of rock over many miles gives a very good idea of how these rocks are related in depth and over long periods of time, and what happened to them. Close examination of particular places also reveals a great deal; Lulworth Cove in Dorset is obviously a bay being scooped out by the sea, but behind it the rocks are folded and crumpled. The rocks are limestone and contain fossils of marine creatures, so these rocks were once on the floor of a warm sea but have been uplifted to the surface.

The tin-coated iron food can was invented as early as 1810, and by 1813 canned foods were being produced for the British Army. Copper had many uses and, as electrification became widespread, it became vital to modern life—for example, as the basis of modern domestic plumbing. New uses of copper are quite radical. The alcohol-based hand wash used in hospitals kills the MRSA virus, though not the more dangerous Clostridium difficile, but gel containing copper kills both. Perhaps even more significantly, harmful organisms can survive for three days on stainless-steel surfaces, such as operating tables, but for only 90 minutes on copper plate.

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