South Yorkshire's 'King Coal' dies

Richard Budge
Richard Budge

The South Yorkshire businessman whose reign over the UK’s pits earned him the nickname 'King Coal' has died.

Richard Budge, aged 69, who ran Doncaster-based RJB Mining, bought 17 deep mines, 30 surface mines, over 400 million tonnes of reserves and nearly 50,000 acres of land for £815 million in the 1990s.

His firm became the biggest independently owned coal production business in Europe.

He invested his energies and much of his personal wealth in securing a future for Hatfield colliery, near Doncaster, which had substantial reserves.

He was the driving force behind the foundation of the Confederation of UK Coal Producers, a campaign group which for the first time gave independent producers a voice in the corridors of power.

Mr Budge was a married father of two, with five grandchildren.

He died following a nine-year battle with prostate cancer on Monday, July 18 at a hospice in Retford.