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Britain's Last Deep Coal Mine Closes

Miners leave after working the final shift at Kellingley Colliery on its last day of operation in north Yorkshire, England, Dec. 18, 2015. Kellingley is the last deep coal mine to close in England.

The last deep coal mine in Britain closed Friday, putting some 450 miners out of work and signaling the end of an era.

The North Yorkshire-based Kellingley Colliery is closing in response to Britain's push to close all coal-fired power plants by 2025, essentially putting an end to what was once an essential national industry.

In 1950, The Wall Street Journal reports, 1,330 deep-pit coal mines in Britain produced about 95 percent of the nation's energy. As of Saturday, there will be none, although some surface coal mines will continue to operate.

Coal's reputation as one of the dirtiest fossil fuels, combined with imports of cheaper coal from Russia and Colombia, have contributed to the decline of the British mines.

Progress toward a cleaner environment also has a price, however. The closure of coal mines means even fewer jobs in working-class towns in northern England, where unemployment has been a problem for decades.