But one man came up with a solution to beat the coal rationing - he built a 40ft mine in his garden out of everyday objects.
Bramwell Pashley used a vacuum cleaner to keep the air safe and a kitchen mangle for the winch. It took Bramwell five years to build the pit and he lined the shaft with 5,500 bricks and was even granted a licence after a battle with the National Coal Board.
These amazing photos of the mine, taken in the 1940s, were recently unearthed by his grandson, Steven Harrison.
Photos reveal how grandad beat Second World War coal rationing by building mine in garden
By Lucy Thornton
Toiling away in his back yard, ingenious Bramwell Pashley beats coal rationing after the Second World War.
He kept the home fires burning by building a 40ft mine out of everyday objects found in the home.
Inventive Bramwell used a vacuum cleaner to keep the air safe and a kitchen mangle for the winch.
The amazing photos, taken in the 40s, were recently unearthed by his grandson, Steven Harrison, 44.
Steven said: “It was only when he was making a chicken run in the garden that he discovered by accident there was coal close to the surface.
“He started to dig the mine and came across the coal about 25ft down.”
Bramwell took five years to build the pit. He lined the shaft with 5,500 bricks and was granted a licence after a battle with the National Coal Board.
Canaries were used in British coal mines since 1911 to detect harmful gas. If the bird passed out or died, harmful gases were present in the mine. It wasn't until 1986 that canaries stopped being used in British coal mines and electronic detectors took their place. Pit ponies, used to haul coal the long distances from pithead to coal face, came into use in British coal mines in the 1750s and eventually became the replacements for woman and child labour when women and children were banned from working in mines in the 1840s. In 1913 there were 70,000 pit ponies at work in Britain, according to the Government Digest of Statistics. When the National Coal Board was formed in 1947 it inherited 21,000 pit ponies. By 1952 the total number of working ponies was down to 15,500 and, by 1973, to 490. It wasn't until 1999 that the last pit ponies in Britain retired.
The ex-pit engineer used a pickaxe to get to the coal and brought it to the surface using winding gear linked to the electricity meter in the house. He ignored the potential dangers from methane and used a candle to see underground.
The haulage driver spent his weekends down Peggy Tub Mine and pulled up two tonnes of coal.
It was closed after about 20 years when the house in Wakefield, West Yorks, made way for Junction 39 of the M1. Bramwell died aged 66 in 1981.
Steven, who lives three miles from where the mine stood, said: “He must be the ultimate DIYer.”
Coal mining in Britain has declined greatly over the last 25 years. However, Britain was once the world's coalmining superpower. The first coal mine in Britain was opened in 1575 by Sir George Bruce, an innovator in coal mining techniques. King James I even visited the mine in 1617. During the Industrial Revolution, which saw Britain become the world's manufacturing and economic powerhouse, Britain became the world's biggest miner of coal. It was Britain that developed the main techniques of underground coal mining from the late 1700s. Throughout the 19th century, when the industrial lanscape of mighty Britain was dominated by the "satanic" cotton-spinning mills, which weaved cotton yarn into fabrics to be exported throughout the world, coal was king. It generated the steam which powered the steam engines which, in turn, powered the hundreds of cotton-spinning looms present in each mill, of which there were hundreds dotted about the country. At the start of the 20th century, Britain was the world leader in coal mining. In 1905, Britain produced over 236 million tons of coal. It wasn't until the 1980s that coal mining started its decline in Britain, particularly with the Miners' Strike of 1984, which failed to force the Thatcher Governments' plans to close coal mines around the country and shrink the industry. Throughout the 1990s the pits continued to close, leaving the British coal mining industry a shadow of its once mighty self. However, coal is still mined extensively at a number of deep pits in the Midlands and the North of England, and is extracted at several very large opencast pits in South Wales.