National Coal Board
Overview
 
The National Coal Board (NCB) was the statutory corporation
Statutory Corporation
A statutory corporation or public body is a corporation created by statute. While artificial legal personality is almost always the result of statutory intervention, a statutory corporation does not include corporations owned by shareholders whose legal personality derives from being registered...

 created to run the nationalised
Nationalization
Nationalisation, also spelled nationalization, is the process of taking an industry or assets into government ownership by a national government or state. Nationalization usually refers to private assets, but may also mean assets owned by lower levels of government, such as municipalities, being...

 coal mining
Coal mining
The goal of coal mining is to obtain coal from the ground. Coal is valued for its energy content, and since the 1880s has been widely used to generate electricity. Steel and cement industries use coal as a fuel for extraction of iron from iron ore and for cement production. In the United States,...

 industry in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

. Set up under the Coal Industry Nationalisation Act 1946
Coal Industry Nationalisation Act 1946
The Coal Industry Nationalisation Act of 1946 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It received Royal Assent on 12 July 1946, and provided for the nationalization of the entire British coal industry. It established the National Coal Board which acted as the managing authority for coal...

, it took over the mines on "vesting day", 1 January 1947. In 1987 it was re-named the British Coal Corporation
British Coal
thumb|right|British Coal company logoThe British Coal Corporation was a nationalised corporation in the United Kingdom responsible for the extraction of coal...

, whose assets were subsequently privatised.
Coal mines had been taken under government control during First and Second Wars. A Royal Commission
Royal Commission
In Commonwealth realms and other monarchies a Royal Commission is a major ad-hoc formal public inquiry into a defined issue. They have been held in various countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Saudi Arabia...

 in 1919 gave R.H. Tawney, Sidney Webb
Sidney James Webb, 1st Baron Passfield
Sidney James Webb, 1st Baron Passfield PC OM was a British socialist, economist, reformer and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. He was one of the early members of the Fabian Society in 1884, along with George Bernard Shaw...

, and Sir Leo Chiozza Money
Leo Chiozza Money
Sir Leo George Chiozza Money , born Leone Giorgio Chiozza, was an Italian-born economic theorist who moved to Britain in the 1890s, where he made his name as a politician, journalist and author. In the early years of the 20th century his views attracted the interest of two future Prime Ministers,...

 the opportunity to publicly advocate nationalisation, but this was rejected as a solution at that time.

Coal reserves were nationalised in 1942 and placed under the control of the Coal Commission
Coal Commission
The Coal Commission was a United Kingdom government agency, created to own and manage coal reserves. It was set up in 1938 and ceased to operate on 1 January 1947.- History :...

, but the mining industry itself remained in private hands.
Encyclopedia
The National Coal Board (NCB) was the statutory corporation
Statutory Corporation
A statutory corporation or public body is a corporation created by statute. While artificial legal personality is almost always the result of statutory intervention, a statutory corporation does not include corporations owned by shareholders whose legal personality derives from being registered...

 created to run the nationalised
Nationalization
Nationalisation, also spelled nationalization, is the process of taking an industry or assets into government ownership by a national government or state. Nationalization usually refers to private assets, but may also mean assets owned by lower levels of government, such as municipalities, being...

 coal mining
Coal mining
The goal of coal mining is to obtain coal from the ground. Coal is valued for its energy content, and since the 1880s has been widely used to generate electricity. Steel and cement industries use coal as a fuel for extraction of iron from iron ore and for cement production. In the United States,...

 industry in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

. Set up under the Coal Industry Nationalisation Act 1946
Coal Industry Nationalisation Act 1946
The Coal Industry Nationalisation Act of 1946 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It received Royal Assent on 12 July 1946, and provided for the nationalization of the entire British coal industry. It established the National Coal Board which acted as the managing authority for coal...

, it took over the mines on "vesting day", 1 January 1947. In 1987 it was re-named the British Coal Corporation
British Coal
thumb|right|British Coal company logoThe British Coal Corporation was a nationalised corporation in the United Kingdom responsible for the extraction of coal...

, whose assets were subsequently privatised.

Predecessors

Coal mines had been taken under government control during First and Second Wars. A Royal Commission
Royal Commission
In Commonwealth realms and other monarchies a Royal Commission is a major ad-hoc formal public inquiry into a defined issue. They have been held in various countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Saudi Arabia...

 in 1919 gave R.H. Tawney, Sidney Webb
Sidney James Webb, 1st Baron Passfield
Sidney James Webb, 1st Baron Passfield PC OM was a British socialist, economist, reformer and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. He was one of the early members of the Fabian Society in 1884, along with George Bernard Shaw...

, and Sir Leo Chiozza Money
Leo Chiozza Money
Sir Leo George Chiozza Money , born Leone Giorgio Chiozza, was an Italian-born economic theorist who moved to Britain in the 1890s, where he made his name as a politician, journalist and author. In the early years of the 20th century his views attracted the interest of two future Prime Ministers,...

 the opportunity to publicly advocate nationalisation, but this was rejected as a solution at that time.

Coal reserves were nationalised in 1942 and placed under the control of the Coal Commission
Coal Commission
The Coal Commission was a United Kingdom government agency, created to own and manage coal reserves. It was set up in 1938 and ceased to operate on 1 January 1947.- History :...

, but the mining industry itself remained in private hands. Many of the coal companies were very small, although consolidation was underway in the years running up to nationalisation.

Formation and history

The NCB was one of a number of public corporations created by
Clement Attlee's
Clement Attlee
Clement Richard Attlee, 1st Earl Attlee, KG, OM, CH, PC, FRS was a British Labour politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1945 to 1951, and as the Leader of the Labour Party from 1935 to 1955...

 post-war Labour
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 government to run nationalised industries. The Coal Industry Nationalisation Act received the Royal Assent
Royal Assent
The granting of royal assent refers to the method by which any constitutional monarch formally approves and promulgates an act of his or her nation's parliament, thus making it a law...

 on 12 July 1946 and the NCB was formally constituted on 15 July, with Lord Hyndley
John Hindley, 1st Viscount Hyndley
John Scott Hindley, 1st Viscount Hyndley GBE , known as Sir John Hindley, Bt, between 1927 and 1931 and as The Lord Hyndley between 1931 and 1948, was a British businessman...

 as Chairman. The number of companies taken over by the Board was about two hundred, at a cost of £338 million. The headquarters of the Board were established in Hobart House, London. The board supplied free coal to its employees, giving rise to the myth that miners in Yorkshire
Yorkshire
Yorkshire is a historic county of northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Because of its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been increasingly undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform...

 kept coal in the bath
Bathtub
A bath , bathtub , or tub is a large container for holding water in which a person may bathe . Most modern bathtubs are made of acrylic or fiberglass, but alternatives are available in enamel over steel or cast iron, and occasionally waterproof finished wood...

 instead of using it for ablutions.

The NCB employed over 700,000 people in 1950 and 634,000 in 1960, but successive governments reduced the size of the industry by closing geographically impaired or low productivity pits. Closures were originally concentrated in Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, but then moved into North East England
North East England
North East England is one of the nine official regions of England. It covers Northumberland, County Durham, Tyne and Wear, and Teesside . The only cities in the region are Durham, Newcastle upon Tyne and Sunderland...

, Lancashire
Lancashire
Lancashire is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in the North West of England. It takes its name from the city of Lancaster, and is sometimes known as the County of Lancaster. Although Lancaster is still considered to be the county town, Lancashire County Council is based in Preston...

, and South Wales
South Wales
South Wales is an area of Wales bordered by England and the Bristol Channel to the east and south, and Mid Wales and West Wales to the north and west. The most densely populated region in the south-west of the United Kingdom, it is home to around 2.1 million people and includes the capital city of...

 in the 1970s. Closures in all coalfields began in the 1980s as demand for British coal was weakened by large subsidies
Subsidy
A subsidy is an assistance paid to a business or economic sector. Most subsidies are made by the government to producers or distributors in an industry to prevent the decline of that industry or an increase in the prices of its products or simply to encourage it to hire more labor A subsidy (also...

 that other European governments gave to their coal industries (West Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

 subsidised coal by four times as much and France by three times as much in 1984) and the availability of lower cost, often open-cast, coal mined in Australia, Colombia, Poland and the United States.

The NCB saw three major national strikes. The 1972 and 1974 strikes were both over pay and both saw success for the National Union of Mineworkers. The miners' strike of 1984–1985
UK miners' strike (1984–1985)
The UK miners' strike was a major industrial action affecting the British coal industry. It was a defining moment in British industrial relations, and its defeat significantly weakened the British trades union movement...

 ended in victory for the government and is still bitterly resented in some parts of Britain that suffered from the aftermath of pit closures.

With the passing of the Coal Industry Act 1994, the industry-wide administrative functions of British Coal were transferred to a new Coal Authority
Coal Authority
The Coal Authority is a non-departmental public body of the United Kingdom government.-History:It was established under the Coal Industry Act 1994 to manage certain functions previously undertaken by the British Coal Corporation , including ownership of unworked coal.It is situated in the south of...

. Its economic assets were privatised, the English mining operations being merged with RJB Mining to form UK Coal
UK Coal
UK Coal plc is the largest coal mining business in the United Kingdom. The Company is based in Harworth, in Nottinghamshire. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a former constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.-History:...

 plc. By the time of privatisation, only 15 pits remained in production.Duty of the Authority with respect to safety.

(1)It shall be the duty of the Authority—

(a)in conjunction with the Health and Safety Executive, to prepare and from time to time revise a document setting out such means as may, with the approval of the Health and Safety Commission, be agreed between the Authority and that Executive for securing co-operation and the exchange of information between them; and

(b)without prejudice to the effect or operation of any relevant statutory provisions (within the meaning of Part I of the M1Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974), to conduct itself in the carrying out of its functions in accordance with any agreement contained in that document.

(2)As soon as practicable after agreement is reached for the purposes of—

(a)the preparation of a document in accordance with subsection (1) above, or

(b)any revision of a document prepared in accordance with that subsection,

the Authority shall send a copy of the document or, as the case may be, of the revised version of it to the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of State shall lay the copy before each House of Parliament.

Other activities

The NCB operated extensive industrial railway
Industrial railway
An industrial railway is a type of railway that is not available for public transportation and is used exclusively to serve a particular industrial, logistics or military site...

s at its collieries, employing steam traction until the late 1970s/early 1980s.

The NCB's research establishment at Stoke Orchard
Stoke Orchard
Stoke Orchard is a village or hamlet north-west of Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, England. Locally the village is often known as 'Stoke'.Stoke Orchard is in the borough of Tewkesbury, the Cheltenham post town, and on the Coombe Hill, Cheltenham, telephone exchange. Stoke Orchard neighbours...

 in Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire is a county in South West England. The county comprises part of the Cotswold Hills, part of the flat fertile valley of the River Severn, and the entire Forest of Dean....

 was founded in 1950 with Jacob Bronowski
Jacob Bronowski
Jacob Bronowski was a Polish-Jewish British mathematician, biologist, historian of science, theatre author, poet and inventor...

 as Director of Research. It closed following privatisation of the coal mining industry.

NCB subsidiaries managed coal-based chemical products (Coal Products Division) and the production of helmets and other mining equipment (Tredomen Engineering Ltd). In the mid-1970s, the activities of Coal Products Division were transferred to two new companies; National Smokeless Fuels Ltd and Thomas Ness Ltd, although they remained wholly owned by the NCB.

In coalfield areas, the NCB was also a major landowner, both of colliery housing and of farmland originally acquired by private owners for its mining rights or to avoid subsidence claims.

See also

  • Aberfan disaster
  • Edwards v. National Coal Board
    Edwards v. National Coal Board
    Edwards v. National Coal Board was an important case in English case law. The 1949 case revolved around whether it was "reasonably practicable" to prevent even the smallest possibility of a rock fall in a coal mine.-Underlying facts:...

  • Energy policy of the United Kingdom
    Energy policy of the United Kingdom
    The current energy policy of the United Kingdom is set out in the Energy White Paper of May 2007 and Low Carbon Transition Plan of July 2009, building on previous work including the 2003 Energy White Paper and the Energy Review Report in 2006...

  • Energy use and conservation in the United Kingdom
    Energy use and conservation in the United Kingdom
    Energy use in the United Kingdom stood at 3,894.6 kilogrammes of oil equivalent per capita in 2005 compared to a world average of 1,778.0. In 2008, total energy consumed was 9.85 exajoules - around 2% of the estimated 474 EJ worldwide total...


External links

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