On Thursday 25th February the IHR and University of London Press celebrated the launch of Coal Country. The Meaning and Memory of Deindustrialization in Postwar Scotland by Ewan Gibbs (University of Glasgow). 

Coal Country is published by University of London Press as part of the RHS / IHR New Historical Perspectives series. 

Coal Country presents the first book-length account of deindustrialization in the Scottish coalfields. It draws on archival research using records from UK government, the nationalized coal industry and trade unions, as well as the words and memories of former miners, their wives and children that were collected in an extensive oral history project.

Deindustrialization progressed as a slow but powerful march across the second half of the twentieth century. In this book, big changes in cultural identities are explained as the outcome of long-term economic developments. The oral testimonies bring to life transformations in gender relations and distinct generational workplaces experiences.  This book argues that major alterations to the politics of class and nationhood have their origins in deindustrialization. The adverse effects of UK government policy, and centralization in the nationalized coal industry, encouraged miners and their trade union to voice their grievances in the language of Scottish national sovereignty. These efforts established a distinctive Scottish national coalfield community and laid the foundations for a devolved Scottish Parliament. Coal Country explains the deep roots of economic changes and their political reverberations, which continue to be felt as we debate another major change in energy sources during the 2020s.


  • Chair: Professor Jane Winters (School of Advanced Study, University of London and New Historical Perspective series co-editor).
  • Dr Ewan Gibbs- lecturer in global inequalities at the University of Glasgow and author of Coal Country. 
  • Dr Ariane Mak- faculty member at Paris Diderot University and a specialist in British miners and oral histories.
  • Brendan Moohan- a former miner who lost his job after being arrested picketing in Midlothian during 1984. Brendan appears in Coal Country as both an oral history participant and a poet.

Image credit: Spiffy- Auchengeich Mining Disaster Memorial, Moodiesburn

Catch up on the book launch here