Once, coal fueled the British Empire, employed armies of men and shook the power of governments.

On Friday, workers at Britain's last operating deep coal mine finish their final shift. The last haul of coal from the pit is destined for a museum, as a once-mighty industry fades into history.

National Union of Mineworkers representative Keith Poulson says the 450 miners at Kellingley Colliery in northern England feel like "a convicted prisoner on death row."

At its peak in the 1920s, Britain's coal industry employed more than 1 million people.

In 1984, miners went on strike against Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's plan to shut down pits and destroy the powerful unions. Thatcher won the bitter yearlong showdown — and changing economic realities have all but wiped out Britain's mining industry.