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| YOU ARE VIEWING ARTICLE - ID:20040811003 |
|Title:||Remember The Miners Strike|
|Author:||Ron Richardson |
|ID & Publication:||20040811003 ~ The-Villager.co.uk |
In November 1984, the N.C.B. attempted to entice striking miners back to work, with the offer of a Christmas bonus. However in order to qualify for this bonus they would have to return to work before the 23rd of November. In every mining village in Doncaster and indeed in every mining area in Britain we saw a continuing conflict between pickets and police as more and more miners returned to work. What we had already witnessed on the picket lines at Armthorpe, and Rossington, Edlington, and Thurnscoe.
It was at the beginning of December that we were told about an underground fire at Rossington and on the 11th December the local newspapers printed reports about the death of a N.C.B. geologist who had collapsed and died, while helping to fight the underground fire.
This young man was only thirty-eight years of age and he was a personal friend of mine. We shared the same interest in photography and at the time of his death, he was the secretary of the Armthorpe Camera Club.
The N.U.M. at Rossington were prepared to allow striking miners to enter the pit to fight the fire, providing the N.C.B. reinstated 27-sacked miners and police were removed from the pit. However, on the 13th December we were told that the fire was under control.
As Christmas approached the Rossington Branch of the N.U.M. and the women’s Support Group were able to arrange a number of Christmas parties in the miners' Welfare Hall, where they were able to distribute toys and gifts, some of which had come from other unions throughout Europe.
In January the police used new tactics at Manvers Main Colliery in an attempt to force pit deputies back to work. The police removed all the N.U.M. pickets away from the pit entrance. However a N.A.C.O.D.S spokesman said, 'Throughout the strike we have honoured our commitment, not to cross the picket lines. The police tactics was to move all the pickets away from the pit entrance so our members would have no excuse, not to go to work. They want us to violate everything the trade union movement stands for. The police can move the picket lines two miles away and it would make no difference to our members. We will not work in such circumstances'.
At the beginning of February it was reported that Bentley had 86 men working. Brodsworth 82, and Rossington 54. In every coalfield more and more men were returning to work.
The strike was beginning to crumble and yet in an N.U.M. statement made on the 23rd February it was stated that 87% of all miners were still on strike. Talks were being held all the time, to try and reach a settlement to the dispute.
On the 3rd March, at a special N.U.M. delegates conference in London, it was decided to call off the strike on the 4th March after a meeting in the Yorkshire N.U.M. Offices, Arthur Scargil said, 'The strike is over but not the dispute,' Ian MacGregor also made a statement saying that 20 pits would close with the loss of 20,000 miners jobs, over the following 12 months.
Two days later on 5th March 1985, about 1,000 men marched proudly along West end lane to Rossington Colliery to report for work, for them the strike was over. However, 4,000 miners from Armthorpe, Frickley, Hickleton and Goldthorpe refused to go back to work. At a meeting of the Armthorpe branch of the N.U.M. it was agreed that they would not return until all the miners sacked during the strike, were reinstated. By the 11th March, all pits in the Doncaster area were working.
One of the most humorous stories from the strike came from Kiverton Colliery, where the pickets built a metre high snowman and they had placed a small papier-mâché policeman's helmet on the snowman’s head.
One day, a police officer objected to the helmet on the snowman’s head and he told the pickets to remove it immediately, but they only laughed at him. However, the office was adamant and he told the pickets that if they did not remove the helmet he would instruct the driver of the police van to run over the snowman. The pickets could not believe that such an order would be given and they laughed at him once again. The officer gave the order and as the van raced towards the snowman the pickets shouted, 'Wait, wait, stop, you don't understand.' However it was too late, the van raced onwards on a collision course with the snowman, then all of a sudden it came to a thundering, shuddering, crunching halt. The pickets had built their snowman around a concrete bollard.
It is now more than 10 years (in 1995) since the strike finished, some of your readers cannot recall those days of conflict and hardship because they were too young, others have tried to forgive those miners who returned to work before the strike finished. The police, I think have rebuilt a new relationship with the village and they have restored confidence with their new community policing.
For some people it is easy to forgive, easy to forget, but I will always remember. The Miners Strike of 1984-85. Recently, a number of your readers visited an exhibition of my strike photographs in the Doncaster Art Gallery, the Rossington Library, and also in the Welfare Hall. Some people have now asked me to publish a book including some of the photographs that I was able to take during the miners strike. However, it will be a very costly project, and if I can raise the capital, I hope to publish a book by the end of the year. If any of your readers would like to purchase such a book would they please let me know.
Text & Photographs Copyright Ron Richardson 1995.
This article first appeared in September 1995 in both the Rossington and Armthorpe Villager newspapers
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