Welcome to our fourth and final theme of the month. The core source material for this week’s topic is from the book ‘Hearts & Minds’ by Joan Witham, which shares the names and stories of prominent women of the Miners’ Strike in Nottinghamshire. The book centres around local Women’s Action Groups. This will be the focus of tomorrow’s blog, but before we get into it – we thought some context was needed, for those who know very little about the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike.
We are lucky to have an interview with one of our directors and volunteers, who features in Witham’s book and this will be posted later in the week.
The Miners’ Strike, which began in 1984 and lasted a whole year was a final attempt by the mining unions, to stop pit closures and prevent the loss of jobs. (6 Mar 1984 – 3 Mar 1985)
In March 1984 more than 187,000 miners came out on strike when the National Coal Board announced that 20 pits in England would have to close with the loss of 20,000 jobs. (BBC)
Miners in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire eventually came out on strike.
But some miners continued to work and were branded as “scabs” by their colleagues when they crossed picket lines. (BBC)
The government of the time, branded striking miners as ‘the enemy within.’
Throughout the year-long strike, women played a huge role in the community and many stood in solidarity with their striking husbands, fathers and/or brothers. As summed up best by our volunteer Christine Gibbon, a retired Head Teacher:
“My experience of the strike as a young teacher in Hucknall was that I stopped seeing mums, who were taking on as many jobs as they could and saw much more of dads who were picking up the childcare.”
Many women actually dived straight into the political side of it, as they formed Action Groups, led demonstrations and stood on picket lines. These women will be explored in greater detail over the coming days. Many families came out together, in solidarity with their community and in protest of the pit closures. Children supported their fathers and mothers.
11-year-old Mark Watson and his brother marching. Their dad was NUM Branch Secretary at Silverhill Colliery in Nottinhamshire Photograph: Markus Fandango /GuardianWitness (source)
pictured: Margaret Anderson, Carol Potter, Jane Holness & Elsie Lowe.
Women came together in the community. Image Source
Women were key figures in the strike. Many women worked in the Soup Kitchens to support striking miners and their families. Image Source
Thanks to Ken Bonsall, here’s a more local pic of a banner from the Welbeck Women’s Action Group! As you will read about in tomorrow’s blog… Many women formed action groups, to support the miners and actively protested against pit closures. These groups became the heart of the movement.
What are your memories of the Miners’ Strike?