Further reading and listening

Things to read and listen to:


Ewan Gibbs, Coal Country: The Meaning and Memory of Deindustrialization in Postwar Scotland (London: University of London Press, 2021)

You can download a free PDF of the book, or buy a paper copy on the University of London Press website.

The flooding and subsequent closure of Scotland’s last deep coal mine in 2002 was a milestone in the nation’s deindustrialization. Villages and towns across the densely populated central belt owe their existence to coal mining’s expansion during the nineteenth century and its maturation in the twentieth. Colliery closures and job losses were not just experienced in economic terms: they had profound social, cultural and political implications. Coal Country presents the first book-length account of deindustrialization in the Scottish coalfields. It draws on archival research using records from UK government, the nationalized coal industry and trade unions as well as transcripts from an extensive oral history project.

Deindustrialization progressed as a slow but powerful march across the second half of the twentieth century. In this book, big changes in cultural identities are explained as the outcome of long-term economic developments. Oral testimonies from former miners and their wives and children bring to life transformations in gender relations and distinct generational workplace experiences. This book argues that major alterations to the politics of class and nationhood have their origins in deindustrialization. The adverse effects of UK government policy, and centralization in the nationalized coal industry, encouraged miners and their trade union to voice their grievances in the language of Scottish national sovereignty and to support a devolved Scottish parliament. Coal Country examines the deep roots of economic changes and their political reverberations, which continue to be felt in the 2020s.

Journal articles

Ewan Gibbs, 'Michael ‘Mick’ McGahey: Miner, Communist and Trade Union Leader', Twentieth Century Communism 23 (2022) pp.4-34. Avialable online.

Ewan Gibbs (2021) Scotland’s faltering green industrial revolution. Political Quarterly, 92(1), pp. 57-65. (doi: 10.1111/1467-923X.12962)

Ewan Gibbs (2021) Ecosse: un passé industriel toujours présent. Les Mondes du Travail (PDF), 27, pp. 159-172.

Andy Clark and Ewan Gibbs (2021) Voices of social dislocation, lost work and economic restructuring: narratives from marginalised localities in the ‘New Scotland’. Memory Studies, 13(1), pp. 39-59. (doi: 10.1177/1750698017741931)

Ewan Gibbs and Jim Phillips (2019) Remembering Auchengeich: the largest fatal accident in Scottish coal in the nationalised era. Scottish Labour History, 54, pp. 47-57. (£)

Shelley Condratto and Ewan Gibbs (2018) After industrial citizenship: adapting to precarious employment in the Lanarkshire coalfield, Scotland, and Sudbury hardrock mining, Canada. Labour / Le Travail, 81, pp. 213-239. (doi: 10.1353/llt.2018.0007)

Ewan Gibbs (2018) The moral economy of the Scottish coalfields: managing deindustrialization under nationalization c.1947–1983. Enterprise and Society, 19(1), pp. 124-152. (doi: 10.1017/eso.2017.25)

Shorter reads

Scotland's oil frustrations set for repeat over renewables profits, Herald 

Ewan Gibbs (2022) How has deindustrialisation shaped debates about Scottish independence? Economics Observatory

In 1972, Britain’s Miners Showed the Power of the Working Class, Jacobin 

Between Extractivism and Environmentalism: Scottish Nationalist Energy Politics During and Since the 1970s, Scotland and Carbon 

Glasgow, Clydeside’s Carbon Capital, The Drouth 

Ending coal use blighted Scottish communities – a just transition to a green economy must support workers, The Conversation 

Book review: Malcolm Slesser, The Politics of Environment: A Guide to Scottish Thought and Action, Bella Caledonia 

A fairer future for Scottish energy, The World Today 

Coal's long shadow, Scotland and Carbon 

North Sea oil deal under Margaret Thatcher fuelled apartheid, Times 

British politics still lives in the shadow of coal mines, Jacobin 

How Boris Johnson's smug coal mines quip fatally misunderstands history, National 

The long fall of King Coal, History Matters 

Why some Scottish nationalists believe a potent myth about North Sea oil, Herald 

The story of the Scottish coal industry's slow death, Sunday National  

Writing working-class history: explorations in 'Coal Country',On History 

Ewan Gibbs on Mick McGahey, Lives on the Left 

Coal Culture Wars: (Mis)Understanding the Durham Miners' Gala, Scottish Critical Heritage 

Putting energy at the centre of Scotland's history, The Centre for Energy Ethics blog

Easy listening

Wildcat Oil Strikes and the Energy CrisisBelaboured

Last OrdersScene On Radio Season 5: The Repair

Green Energy, Scotland and COP26Mile End Institute Podcast

Interview with the Climate Emergency Newsroom

Back to the Future: industrial history and community in the just transition, Local Zero

Spotlight podcast, episode 14, University of Glasgow