Coal trade before c. 1720
The coal trade was at the centre of Sunderland's 17th-c. prosperity, and continued to thrive through the 18th century. Coal came 10 miles down the Wear by keel from coalfields near Chester-le-Street, and was transferred to sea-going colliers in Sunderland harbour and out at sea.
The trade was run by coal fitters, based mainly in the port, who bought from the coal-owners and arranged shipment by keel, selling on to shipowners who took the coal to east coast ports and to London. Any attempts to develop the coal trade elsewhere - as with the plan to build an Aire and Calder navigation in 1698 - were treated as a threat and earnestly resisted.
Content generated during research for two paperback books 'Sunderland and its Origins: Monks to Mariners' (ISBN 13 : 9781860774799) and 'Sunderland: Building a City' (ISBN 13 : 978-1-86077-547-5 ) for the England's Past for Everyone series