Industrial coal consumption in early modern London
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 April 2016
The importance of energy, in particular coal, is the subject of ongoing debate amongst economic historians who examine its relationship to the timing and nature of British industrialization. Yet attention to the case of London during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries shows that heavy coal consumption did not require industrial production, nor was heavy industrial coal demand dependent on steam engines. Rather, through the first sustained attempt to quantify industry's proportion of London's demand for mined coal, this article argues that the early modern world's leading coal market was driven primarily by domestic rather than industrial consumption, but that many industrial facilities nevertheless consumed fuel on scales often associated with later industrialization.
- Special section: Communities, courts and Scottish towns
- Urban History , Volume 44 , Issue 3 , August 2017 , pp. 424 - 443
- Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016
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25 Refining this average further to reflect change over time in brewing methods and in the relative market share of large and small breweries would be desirable but would require additional research on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century urban brewing.
26 Hatcher, History, vol. I, 517, gives data for 1561–62 (10,667 tons) and an estimate for 1580 (27,224).
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37 Thanks to Nuala Zahedieh for discussing this point.
38 An Account of the Late Application to Parliament, from the Sugar Refiners, Grocers, & c. (1753), 43.
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50 Hatcher does not have data for this period, but 283,375 tons were shipped in 1637/38, and from c. 320,000 to 577,000 tons during the 1680s. Hatcher, History, vol. I, 501–2.
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61 Godfrey, English Glassmaking, 194–5. Hatcher, building on Godfrey, suggests that about 10,000 tons for all of England's glass houses would be a generous estimate for c. 1640. Hatcher, History, vol. I, 449. Table 1 allows 2,500 tons for London by 1650.
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68 Supposing, for example, that London in 1700 contained another 2,000 tradesmen who each consumed 7.5 tons of coal in their shops annually, plus another 100 facilities requiring 100 tons of coal each, this total of 25,000 tons of additional coal would still not equal the demand of the brewing industry alone.
69 Hull (ed.), Economic Writings, 304; Bédoyère (ed.), Writings, 137–8.
70 Godfrey, English Glassmaking, 193–5; HEHL ST 28, p. 17.
71 C. Povey, Proposals for Raising a Thousand Pounds (1699).
72 GL MS 3047/1, 28–9.
73 Reddaway, Rebuilding of London, 128.
74 CUL MS Ch(H) Political Papers 51, 128; Sir John Fellowes Papers, Norfolk Record Office, FEL 705, 554x7. Thanks to Koji Yamamoto for generously sharing photographs of the latter documents.
75 This discussion draws on Cavert, ‘Brewing industry’.
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83 See n. 12.