Leeds nostalgia Coal saved UK in 1947

editorial image
Have your say

If you thought today’s economy was volatile, Britain’s economic outlook 70 years ago - just after the end of the Second World War - was nothing short of dire.

This week in 1947, the Government issued a White Paper outlining the “drastic steps” needed for the country’s recovery.

The headlines said it all: ‘100,000 more workers to be recruited’.

Prime Minister Clement Atlee said: “The Government call upon every man and woman to devote themselves unflinchingly to the task.”

The White Paper went on: “The central fact of 1947 is that we have not enough resources to do all that we want to do and barely enough to do all that we must do.”

The Yorkshire Evening Post cut to the chase, with this analysis: “The underlying factor is coal.”

Coal was seen as the basis for the entire programme for increased production.

The White Paper added: “The Government hopes to have 278,000 more men and women working by the end of the yea, including an increase of 35,000 miners and recruitment of 100,000 workers from among women, people past retirement age and foreign labour.

However, compulsion was not going to be used to force people to work but young men who went into the mines would escape having to join the armed forces and theirs would be the only exemption made.

The minimum coal target in 1947 was set at 200m tons, with the labour force rising from 695,000 to 730,000. Exports targets were hiked too, to 140 per cent with the long term target set at 175 per cent.

In other news, the harsh winter of 1947 continued, with snow drifts so deep they stopped trains across the country, including in Driffield.