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| YOU ARE VIEWING ARTICLE - ID:19950803002 |
|Title:||Remember The Miners Strike|
|Author:||Ron Richardson |
|ID & Publication:||19950803002 ~ The Armthorpe Villager |
As the furore of Orgreave subsided, the N.C.B. introduced a psychological approach to striking miners, to try and persuade them, to return back to work. A letter was sent from the Area Director to every miner in the Doncaster area, outlining the situation at each pit and enclosed in the letter was a free phone number that miners could ring to obtain information on how they could return to work. The N.C.B. gave a promise, over the phone that they would guarantee to get all miners safely to work, if they wanted to do so.
Ever since the strike began the N.U.M. had allowed members of the Colliery Management Union (BACM) to cross the picket lines to enable them to carry out safety inspections underground. However, because of this letter and because of the fact that management decided to use members of the BACM who did not work at the pit to help in their safety inspections, the striking miners area co-ordinating committee decided to instruct all N.U.M. members to stop the management teams from entering the pits.
At Rossington on the 9th July, miners built a barricade of trees across the road to stop all vehicles from entering the pit premises.
Five hundred police officers were quickly drafted into the village and eventually about 200 policemen were able to clear a route to enable members of management to enter the pit offices, but not before some of them had got a soaking from a fire hose, that had been used by some of the pickets against the police as they charged the barricade. At the end of their shift, the management were once again escorted across the picket lines, however one of the management team had missed the transit van and he had to be rescued later by the police and one N.C.B. van was left abandoned outside the pit offices.
The N.C.B. Area Director declared that they would abandon Rossington colliery if the N.U.M. did not change their tactics.
On the night of the 9th July all hell was let loose and when the mine was left unprotected. A small group of young men broke into the control centre and did a considerable amount of damage, others broke into the storehouse and a number of items were stolen. The people who were engaged in these activities were not all miners and this small group were quickly condemned by the local N.U.M. officials.
I believe that it was on the 10th July, that a Rossington miner, who lived at Armthorpe, visited the village. He had been trying to encourage striking miners to return to work and the local N.U.M. officials had advised him to stay away, because they could not guarantee his safety. As he walked along West End Lane on the opposite side of the road to the Salvation Army Hall he was attacked by a group of women and he had to seek refuge in a house and receive medical attention for cuts to his face before returning home.
It was not until the Area N.U.M. Officials had visited the pit, that order was restored on the picket lines. In a statement to the press, Jack Taylor, the Yorkshire Area N.U.M. President said 'The anger and ill-feeling in this village has been caused because the Coal Board sent letters over the union's head and I hope they will reflect on that.' This was not the last barricade to be built at Rossington. Later in the year, a barricade was built at the junction of King George's Road and West End Lane, when wooden tables and beer crates, belonging to the British Legion Club were used to blockade the road, these were also set alight. On that occasion the police brought horses into the village and it was alleged that one picket was injured when he was hit by a large police horse transporter, as it travelled along West End Lane. Another barricade was built near the Welfare Hall when two scrap cars were moved from behind the petrol station next to the Station Hotel and then overturned in the middle of the road.
I am certain that some miners will also remember the day when the police charged into the Welfare Hall, breaking the glass doors with their truncheons and ripping out the telephone from the pay-phone-box.
Of course it was not all blood, sweat and tears. There was one day that I recall when an old man came to see to ask if there were any reporters in the village because he had a wonderful story for them. He told me that he had been wheeling his bicycle up Sewerage Lane when he was stopped by a police transit van, out jumped six policeman who started to ask him questions about what he had in the coal bag that he was carrying over the crossbar of his bike and it became apparent that it did not contain coal and one office made a remark that the contents of the bag were still warm. It was then that the old man told him that he had been down to the pony field for some horse manure. The police beat a hasty retreat, looking for somewhere to wash their hands.
Text & Photographs Copyright Ron Richardson 1995.
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