Energy and the maturation of industrial economies in the West, 1900-18
Day and night, coal-laden trains rumbled over the tracks connecting the deep and rich mines of Wales and northeastern England with coastal ports. At the docks men and steam-driven equipment poured coal into the holds and engine rooms of waiting colliers. From Newcastle-upon- Tyne, many colliers nosed eastward toward North Sea or Baltic Sea destinations. At Hamburg, the leading German coal port, importers distributed the coal to buyers in Berlin and other interior cities where British coal was cheaper than coal from Germany's Ruhr fields during the years prior to World War I.
During those years, European-bound vessels from Philadelphia and New York included in their cargoes rising volumes of crude oil and petroleum products. Cans and barrels of kerosene, lubricants, and paraffin wax were off-loaded at London, Le Havre, Rotterdam, and Hamburg. Wholesalers and retailers, some owned by the shippers, then distributed these products to countless consumers who also availed themselves of competitive goods shipped in from Russia, Galicia, and Romania.
In 1907, the value of the UK's coal trade surpassed £52 million while the total value of all petroleum exports from the USA amounted to some £19 million. The UK alone accounted for some sixty percent of the world coal trade so in all likelihood the value of that trade surpassed £100 million. Oil companies in the USA supplied an estimated twenty- five percent of a global traffic in oil valued at £70 million.1
The monetary value of the world coal trade continued to exceed that of the oil trade through World War I. Coal remained the premier industrial fuel into the 1950s and the primary fuel for motive power at least into the 1930s. The application of the coal-burning steam engine to