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The book, The Neston Collieries 1759-1855: An Industrial Revolution in Rural Cheshire is written by local historian Anthony Annakin-Smith and published by the University of Chester Press. Based on extensive new research, it looks at the early period of mining at Neston which coincided with a time of great industrial and social change in Britain.

Describing the sabotage, Anthony explained: “There were two early mines at Neston leading to immense rivalry. One had its steam engine smashed and then the works were blown up and flooded by the neighbouring business.”

The extensively illustrated work looks at every aspect of mining operations as well as the trade behind it. “The mines had extensive links with Chester, North Wales and Lancashire as well as sending coals to Ireland, Europe and even America and the Caribbean”, said Anthony.

Child labour was routine at the Neston mines with records of children as young as nine working there. Some died in accidents, for example falling down shafts – these are amongst the 27 tragic deaths at work which the book documents.

”Life was grim but the mines were at the forefront of developments in many ways”, said Anthony. “They introduced the first steam engine in west Cheshire, before any in Chester, used canals deep under the Dee Estuary to convey coals and were amongst the first to bring in a form of medical insurance for workers. George Stephenson wanted to bring a railway to the mines.”

The book also documents the harsh lives of the miners’ families who lived in squalor and where half of all couples lost at least one child, often many more. Emma Hamilton, who rose to the top of Georgian society, was born into this poor mining community.

“I hope the book will appeal to a wide range of people”, Anthony added. “Whether you are interested in local history, industrial or social history, or family history you should find much of interest.”

The book is available directly from the University of Chester Press: www.chester.ac.uk/university-press (including online ordering), or call 01244 513305. It is also available from booksellers.

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