1 (WOMEN 1984-85) THE MINERS’ STRIKE

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
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)

 

Miners' strike 30 years on: Diary of Nottinghamshire picket Dennis Skinner labelled ''tower of strength'' - Mirror Online

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. 

May be an image of brick wall

 

What are your memories of the Miners’ Strike? 

 

Categories: News.

Comments

  1. Lorraine Dowen

    Dear Comrades
    My mum,Hilary Dowen was always a staunch supporter of the NUM locally and of my dads involvement over many years.
    As a local teacher she was not allowed a political profile in Notts and so had to walk a fine line in the community and the staff room,where of course she was the NUT rep. Sometimes her other life intruded,like in the 1972 strike when dad was arrested and he phoned the school to let her know.
    Mum worked tirelessly with dad and John and Elsie Lowe during the 84 Strike. She travelled all over England with Dad,speaking with great passion on behalf of the mining families who were suffering .Lifelong friends were made.
    Life at home during the strike was pretty crazy,but I don’t think mum missed a day in the class room.Our phone was tapped and every time she tried to give a telephone interview to a radio station the line was jammed..
    Mum stayed loyal to the last.
    Just two or three months before she died John Lowes Diary was published. Crippled with multiple sclerosis,she read every page,each page needed to be turned for her .It took a few weeks of daily persistance
    and when she was done she was triumphant. She went on to get support to phone Elsie and have one last long pit talk.
    My mum made her own luck in life,moving from working in the wages office at Clipstone pit to working as an unqualified infants teacher at J T Rice infants school.After this she studied for her teaching certificate,a Bachelor of Education and a post graduate qualification as a Community teacher. Her passion was always children,and what she could do to improve their chances in life.
    She is deeply loved and missed.

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