Projects and funding

This website is the outcome of three separate but connected funded projects.

All of these research projects were committed to combining detailed archival research and oral histories to understand major changes in energy economies within the UK. Each sought to trace not just what happened but how these shifts were understood at the time and how they have been remembered since.

Energy Nationalisms (2021-2022)

This Carnegie University Trust for Scotland-funded Research Incentive Grant studied the relationship between energy and Scottish nationalism and funded this website as part of its public engagement objectives.

Since Scottish independence became a significant feature of Scottish political debate during the 1960s, constitutional politics has been shaped by arguments over fuel economies. The project recorded oral history interviews with current and former politicians, political advisers, economists, journalists, trade union officials and party and social movement activists. In addition, it accessed the archives of the Scottish National Party (SNP) and the Scottish Green Party, the main pro-independence parties, as well as the records of Scottish anti-nuclear campaigners and relevant UK government archives that profile responses to nationalist arguments.

It found that shale oil, coal, North Sea oil and gas, nuclear and more recently renewables have been central to evolving arguments for independence that combine important dimensions of energy and environmental politics.

Decarbonising the Economy and Society (2022-2024)

This British Academy-Wolfson Fellowships project is studying the transformations brought about by major changes to Britain's energy economy from a community and workplace perspective since the middle of the twentieth century.

It centres on the experiences of places which went through the end of older forms of energy generation and the beginnings of new ones through the development of conventional electricity generation, nuclear power and the infrastructure of the oil and gas industry. Small scale localities distant from the centres of political power and industrial administration in London are being case studied, including nuclear power stations of North Wales, the Sullom Voe oil terminal in Shetland, the oil rig manufacturing yard at Nigg, Easter Ross and the nuclear reprocessing facility at Sellafield in Cumbria.

This project combines oral histories with energy workers, residents and campaigners, including representatives from the anti-nuclear movement with the records of trade unions, environmental activists, industry and government.

Deindustrialization in the Scottish Coalfields (2013-2019)

An Economic and Social Research Council-funded doctoral research project (2013-2016) explored the remaking of the socioeconomic landscape for Scotland’s landscape from the post-Second World War peak of coal mining employment in the late 1950s at over 80,000 coal miners to the end of deep mining in 2002 and since.

This research assessed the long-term societal consequences of deindustrialization, the contraction of manufacturing and mining employment and the importance of industrial activities to overall economic output. It found that deindustrialization had redrawn understandings of place, class and nationhood as well as altered gender relations. This project combined archival research in the records of the nationalised coal industry, the Scottish Office and trade unions. In addition, an oral history project was completed involving former miners, other industrial workers and their relatives.

Royal Society of Edinburgh small grant project in 2017 augmented this research. Archival research themed around UK government energy policymaking revealed that power station investment and fuel policy was an important dimension of the extent and pacing of coalfield contraction.