The Keelmen of Tyneside
Title Details

232 Pages

23.4 x 15.6 cm

4 b/w. Illustrations

Series: Regions and Regionalism in History

Imprint: Boydell Press

The Keelmen of Tyneside

Labour Organisation and Conflict in the North-East Coal Industry, 1600-1830

by Joseph Fewster

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A comprehensive account of the everyday lives of the keelmen of Tyneside, and their struggles and industrial disputes.
For hundreds of years the keelmen, the "keel lads o' coaly Tyne" celebrated in the north-east folk song "The Keel Row", ferried coal down-river to the estuary and cast it aboard ships bound for London or overseas. They were "the very sinews of the coal trade" on which the prosperity of the region depended.
This book charts the history of the keelmen from the early seventeenth century to the point where technological advances made them redundant in thecourse of the nineteenth century. It describes how the importance of their work placed them in a strong position in industrial disputes, especially since they could shut off the coal supply to London. It examines their numerous turbulent battles with rapacious employers and unsympathetic magistrates (often themselves involved in the coal trade), their struggles against poverty and eventually against redundancy, and their attempts to gain redress in Parliament and in the law courts. The book also describes the squalid conditions in Sandgate where, as recounted in the folk song, many keelmen and their families lived with a reputation for independence and savage roughness but exhibited impressive solidarity both as an early industrial labour organisation and as a tightly-knit, mutually supportive, and highly self-reliant community.
The book will be of interest to social and economic historians, labour historians, maritime historians and all interested in the history of the North East.

JOSEPH M. FEWSTER was, until his retirement in 1997, Senior Assistant Keeper in Durham University Library.
THE DOCUMENTS
Introduction
Editorial method
Early years
Documents concerning the Keelmen's Strike of June-July 1710
Daniel Defoe and the Keelmen
Correspondence and documents concerning the Magistrates' Bill to control the Keelmen's Charity
The strike of the Keelmen of Newcastle in conjunction with those at Sunderland, 1719
Another attempt to revive the Charity
Objections to a proposal by the shipmasters to delay the start of the coal trade
The Keelmen's Strike, May 1738
The Riot of 1740 in Newcastle
The Keelmen's part in the riot
Census of Keelmen after the riot of 1740
The Keelmen's Strike of 1744
The Keelmen's Strike of 1750
The Keelmen's Strike of 1768 and attempts by Thomas Harvey, an attorney, to obtain an Act of Parliament to establish their Society and Charity and limit the keel-load
The Keelmen join in general industrial unrest over the high price of corn but continue their strike on account of a threat to their employment, 1771
Unemployment caused by actions of the shipowners, 1787
A new attempt to establish a Charity for the Keelmen, 1786-8
Adjustment of the Keelmen's wages, 1791-2
Riots by Keelmen at Sunderland
Dispute over the loading of ships by spouts, 1794
The Keelmen strike for higher pay, and the authorities attempt to suppress them, 1809
Documents concerning the impressment of Keelmen, 1803-11
The Keelmen's Strike of 1819, the great Radical Reform meeting that coincided with it, and the alarm of the authorities
The 'Long Stop', 1 October - 6 December 1822
The decay of the Keelmen's Hospital
Bibliography

The late JOSEPH M. FEWSTER had an almost life-long interest in the keelmen of Tyneside, culminating in his definitive monograph The Keelmen of Tyneside; Labour Organisation in the North-East Coal Industry, 1600-1830 (2011), to which the present volume provides a valuable supplement.

"A welcome contribution to the literature." INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MARITIME HISTORY
"[I] can only heartily recommend that you buy the book and read it from start to end." WEEKLY WORKER
"[A] superb monument to a forgotten group of working people." NORTH EAST HISTORY
"[L]ikely to remain, for many years to come, the definitive account of the role of the keelmen in the complex operation of getting coal from pit to ship [...] a fascinating study.which is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of the coal trade, working and living conditions in the period and the nefarious dealings of city bosses." THE LOCAL HISTORIAN
"A thorough and detailed study of this hardy and resourceful workforce." NORTHERN HISTORY
"A handsome volume [and] surely now the standard account of this piece of north-east history." NORMAN McCORD, Professor Emeritus of History, Newcastle University

Hardcover

9781843836322

June 2011

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Ebook (EPDF)

9781846159503

June 2011

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Title Details

232 Pages

2.34 x 1.56 cm

4 b/w. Illustrations

Series: Regions and Regionalism in History

Imprint: Boydell Press