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Academic & Professional Books  Earth System Sciences  Geosphere  Economic Geology

Measures for Measure Geology and the Industrial Revolution

By: Mike R Leeder(Author)
350 pages, 100 colour illustrations
Measures for Measure
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  • Measures for Measure ISBN: 9781780460819 Hardback Nov 2020 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 2-3 weeks
Price: £40.00
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

Measures for Measure features once greatly-disturbed landscapes – now largely reclaimed, physically at least, by post-industrial activity. Yet the surviving machines, buildings and housing of the original Industrial Revolution, founded mostly upon Coal Measures strata, still loom large over many parts of Britain. They do so nowadays in the family-friendly and informative context of industrial museums, reconstructed industrial settlements, preserved landscapes and historic townscapes. Our society and its creative core of literature, visual arts and architecture were profoundly affected by the whole process. The British Carboniferous legacy for wider humankind was profound and permanent, more so with the realisation over the last 60 or so years that the emission of carbon dioxide during human utilisation of fossil fuels has caused global warming – with all its many unintended consequences.

Coal, iron ore and other metallic ores and materials had been extracted from Carboniferous strata and traded for over five hundred years before the Industrial Revolution, notably since thirteenth century in the 'London Trade' of coal from Tyneside. By contrast, the neighbouring island of Ireland had no great deposits of coal and ironstone, although with gold, copper, lead and zinc aplenty. What produced this abundance of fossil carbon preserved in the Carboniferous rocks of Britain? Why did the Industrial Revolution originate in Britain in the early- to mid-eighteenth century and not elsewhere in mainland Europe where coal was also abundant?

Linked geological, economic and social factors combined to enable the formation, preservation, exposure and exploitation of neighbouring coal- and iron-bearing reserves. The principal features of the distinctive industrial regions that grew up are traced back to their landscapes and geology in a major section of the book. Great industrial cities became wonders of the world, their entrepreneurs and industrialists proud at what they had created. However, industrial workers in their mines, foundries, forges, factories and mills had to collectively fight for economic, political and social rights and then to cope with the many traumas of de-industrialisation and unemployment.

Measures for Measure will appeal to all with an interest in the industrial history of Great Britain and its impact on the landscape, economy, social history and culture of the island.


PART 1: Economy in Motion: Setting the scene with six cameo sketches of key industrial developments
1. Travellers’ Tales 1: Celia Fiennes and Daniel Defoe in Pre-Industrial Britain
2: Beginning of Coallery: George Sinclair, ‘Scoto-Lothiani’
3. New Reductions: Iron and ‘Charking Coles’
4. Steam Engine Works: Newcomen to Watt
5. Still Waters Run Shallow: Canal Mania
6. Traveller’s Tales 2: Louis Simond Under Tyneside, 1811

PART 2: Redress of Time: Carboniferous Worlds Reconstructed: Some background geology, climate, botany and geochemistry
7. Devonian Prequel: Scintillas, then Splashes of Green
8. Carboniferous Tectonic Geography and Climate
9. Carboniferous Equatorial Swamp Forests
10. Carbon Accumulations and Mineral Additions
11. Tectonic Inversion: Coal Basin Preservation.

PART 3: Legacies: Carbon Cycling, Chimneys and Creativity: Various consequences of fossil fuel burning
12. Atmospheres, Carbon Cycling and Glaciations
13. Britain: First ‘Chimney of the World’
14. Chimneys of the Modern World: A ‘Planetary Catastrophe’?
15. Industrial Sublime and Other Creative Legacies

PART 4: Landscapes of Industrial Revolution. Our industrial heritage and what it can mean to us today
16. South Wales
17. England’s West Country: Somerset/Gloucestershire
18. North Wales
19. English South Midlands
20. East of the South Pennines: Yorkshire/Nottinghamshires/Derbyshire
21. West of the South Pennines: Lancashire/North Staffordshire
22. West and South Cumberland
23. Northumberland and Durham
24. Scottish Midlands

Chapter Notes and Sources

Customer Reviews


Mike Leeder is an Emeritus Professor at UEA Norwich and a former Head of Earth Sciences at Leeds University. Outside his geological comfort zone, he has, since his school days, taken a keen interest in history, literature and politics, all topics covered in the present book. He is, with Joy Lawlor, co-author of GeoBritannica, the story of British geological and landscape evolution and the related creativity of its peoples since Neolithic times.

By: Mike R Leeder(Author)
350 pages, 100 colour illustrations
Media reviews

Choice 'Outstanding Academic Title' award 2022

"As geologists, we understand that the Carboniferous rocks of the Coal Measures were essential to the first Industrial Revolution. They determined its location, pace and extent. This book explains not only this relationship but the profound consequences to our landscape, society, culture and economics that followed. An engaging narrative with cameos is used to frame the story, referencing the writings and eye witness accounts of contemporary individuals. The geological firsts attributed to George Sinclair, whose work involved predicting where mineral resources could be found and easy won, were particularly insightful. Abraham Darby with his technological knowhow sparked the revolutionary blueprint, but he relocated to Coalbrookdale for a reason! Professor Leeder s vast knowledge comes to the fore in explaining the how, why and where. The answers of course are in the rocks, from the rise of forests, palaeoclimate and diagenesis to the Rheic Ocean's demise and, finally, basin inversion. The richness of the geological story presented is like the creation of Pangaea itself – an impressive all-encompassing assemblage. Whether a balance between narrative and textbook style is achieved, only the reader can decide. It is however an enjoyable and though provoking read and thoroughly recommended."
Geoscientist online

"I would recommend this book for us all. Given the scope of the subject matter it could never have covered every aspect of the Industrial Revolution (just look at the number of books on this topic) but as an insight into Britain's unique position from a geological perspective and as a reference source for helping shape the brave new world it is invaluable. The title – a take on one of Shakespeare's 'problem' plays – perhaps reflects that ultimately human beings need to temper resource exploitation with moral justice – remembering that today's renewable technological industries also require minerals"
Edinburgh Geologist

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