Coal is known as an un-renewable fuel source because our supplies are finite. After all, it took over 300 million years for the coal we use today to develop from the organic matter it once was. History places a huge emphasis on coal and actually credits the industrial revolution with kickstarting its popularity. Read on as the Pearson Fuels team go through key points in order to analyse the role of coal during the industrial revolution…

Increase of Demand

Before the 1700’s, Britain was producing coal in very limited quantities. In fact, coal pits were very small and the coal was only sold in local areas. Plus, coal mining was a very dangerous industry to work in and many workers would drown or suffocate on the job. This all changed when iron and steam were introduced as the demand for coal quickly soared. In fact, production increase by 50% between 1700 and 1750, and just a century later in 1850 when the industrial revolution was in full swing, the rate of increase soared by 500%!

Steam, Iron and Transport

Steam engines were used in locomotives, mills and factories during the industrial revolution, however they required a constant supply of coal which increased the demand for the fossil fuel even further. Interestingly, steam power was also used in coal mines in order to allow workers to dig deeper than ever before and gather more coal to sell for profit.

In addition to this, a form of processed coal known as coke was first used to smelt iron in 1709. Eventually, coal became the go-to material for iron smelting, which also contributed to its demand, with the two industries supporting one another. Interestingly, the iron smelting by coal was used to create tramways, which in turn allowed more coal to be moved easier and faster.

With coal on the rise, it was even more important that transport links were improved. The roads before 1750 were incredibly poor which meant that heavy loads were impossible to move. The coal industry had to rely on ships to take coal from port to port. During the industrial revolution, transport links improved considerably with the introduction of canals, however the beginning of the 19th century saw the first moving steam engine hit the tracks, which subsequently aided the coal industry by providing an easier way to transport large quantities of coal very quickly.


At first, coal was an expensive luxury, but the prices began to fall as it increased in demand. After all, it was a vital part of the iron and steel industries and homeowners who didn’t live near a forest in order to gather wood or create charcoal relied on it too. In addition to this, the coal industry also boosted the economy, producing 6% of British national income by 1900.

The experts suggest that our supply of coal is substantial enough to last another two centuries as long as we continue at the current rate of consumption. In fact, one could say that coal played such an important role in the industrial revolution that it also helped technology progress too. Here at Pearson Fuels, we have a wide range of house coal and smokeless coal that can be used in open fires and stoves alike. To find out more information about coal and its role in the industrial revolution, get in contact with the best coal merchants around and speak to a member of the Pearson Fuels team today!