In England, Coal is Dead

Ironbridge Gorge

Ironbridge Gorge, England 


When we travel, we see how other countries are dealing with the same issues we are at home. And we better understand the lessons history can teach us. On this trip, I’ve been tuned in to the news, as our president makes headlines almost daily. And — also almost daily — the Europeans I meet ask me how Trump got elected. (From their perspective, it seems astonishing.) I try to explain about people in parts of our country with serious economic challenges who believe things aren’t fair — like the plight of American coal miners, who feel they were given a voice by Trump’s candidacy.

Here in England, they tell me that they dealt with that same challenge back in 1984. That’s when Margaret Thatcher — Britain’s answer to Ronald Reagan, and considered a strong leader by people left and right — confronted England’s coal miners’ union…and crushed them. Her message: Coal mining just didn’t add up anymore. Wandering through England’s fascinating museum of the Industrial Revolution at Ironbridge Gorge, I watched a blacksmith hard at work. And then I stumbled upon this thought-provoking pile of coal next to a silent factory. Progress can be heartless. And in England, the coal industry is not a political issue…but a corner of a museum.

This is Day 99 of my “100 Days in Europe” series. As I travel with Rick Steves’ Europe Tours, research my guidebooks, and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences across Europe. Still to come: bonus posts from Germany and Switzerland. Thanks for joining me here on my blog and via Facebook.