Powering Industry

I mentioned earlier that on our way to Bakewell we passed through many mill towns. This view of the Cromford mill gives some idea of the hideous architecture of the Victorian industrial revolution. This particular mill was the first to utilise water (ie not coal/steam)

to power the vast factories that scored, spun and wove cloth. It is said to be the birthplace of the "modern factory system." It was serviced by its own canal to transport the finished product to the Erewash Canal and behyond. The inventiveness and industrial power of the period is truly legend, as is the poverty, gross working conditions, and virtual enslavement of masses of factory workers.


Somewhere along this journey someone told me of a nearby factory that was once power by coal. The still vast reserves of unmined coal in the region go untouched as even if they could be economically mined coal is no longer deemed clean enough to burn. Instead this factory is powered by nuggets of compressed waste shipped in from the continent. There’s a lot to recognise as good in that, but I can’t help but think whoever can find a way of extracting energy from coal without producing CO2 and soot will be onto a good thing!

More or less related to the theme of this post is the way attitudes to diesel have changed. A decade or so ago I was struck by the success and promises of diesel here in the UK. It was touted as the fuel of the future; the trend to diesel cars suggested petrol was on the way out; and the price of diesel was much lower than that of petrol. How things have changed! Recently a nephew of Priscilla’s parked his work van in London. Not only did he have to pay for the parking, and not only did he have to pay the congestion charge for driving in London; he had to pay an extra tax for operating a diesel vehicle in London!

© 2020 Michael L Drake