Selby, United Kingdom

Born in the north of England, I always had a passion for artwork, after ill health forced retirement it was a good oppurtunity to learn...

Miners Srike 1984

I can remember the strike as if it were yesterday, We had been half expecting it with all the pit closures and more threatening closures.

My husband John came in from work, and straight away I knew by his face that the miners were on strike, We had gone through two strikes before so I knew or thought I knew what to expect, and we had a little saved up so I thought we would manage.

MY immediate thought was to make some broth, I know that sounds silly but as a mother my first thoughts were how we were going to feed the family, we knew it was going to be a long fight not just three month like the last strike.———- yes the good old pan of broth, that got us through the last one in 1974.That and my home made bread

We got paid fifteen pound eighteen pence a week to live on, for four of us, we were not entitled to any state money with it being a strike, but In the summer months we managed quite well with our bit of savings,the strike was not taking any effect as such. There was a lot of humour amongst the miners families,we held jumble sales, made home made wine and clubbed our food together to have barbaque,s amongst our freinds, — after all it was summer and the strike will soon be over.

A few of us set a jazz band up in our local town for over sixty children, we fund raised holding disco,s, bingo, and had the church hall packed every Monday market day selling bacon sandwiches, tea and coffee, -—-within the first six month we had raised enough for all new uniforms and instruments, we took the children away to competions every weekend, It was fun, and took away for a short time the stress of the strike

John continued to picket each day,he would get two pound off the union,one pound was for petrol off each man travelling in one car. which I now find quite hilarious how much some union men paid themselves.

When John came home he would tell me all what was happend that day, the police would wave thier wage packets in front of the miners telling them to carry on with the strike for they were becoming rich, but the metropolotan police were the worst which carried batons, -——- then there was the mountain police on horseback which chased the miners and hit them as they were running away from them, most times they would laugh and joke with the police but not metropolatan police. A lot of miners put up a fight and got really badly injured, some went to prison.

As all british summers they don,t last long,our savings were gone and our need for food and warmth were a lot greater, Some Men in our area were returning to work, fathers and sons stopped speaking to each other through this, as did long time freinds.

The picket lines were getting more vicious with police on horseback and batons hitting out at the men, a neighbour of ours was killed on the picket line, he was run over by a truck.

John worked at one of the hardened pits so there was no way he would have gone through the picket lines and I didn,t want him to, we had gone this far and we had to see it through for the sake of his and thousands of mens future .

We were now about six month into the strike and we were hungry and cold, a lot of towns put on soup kitchens, our town was set up that I had to stand in a queue outside the salvation army for a bag of groceries, which consisted of a tin of corned beef, potatoes, sugar and tea, it was really embarrasing, this I made a corned beef hash with for our Sunday dinner. every Sunday.

My health was deteriating, I was waiting for a thyroid removal operation, I was losing weight fast. The house was so cold, -————-we had to win this.

A lot got help from families, but my mum and dad were not wealthy and neither was Johns mum, they were pensioners so there would be no way I would expect help off them and would not dream of asking them, I assured them that we were fine, we lived 100 mile from both of our parents. We were too proud that way to ask for help anyway,

It was getting very cold , so a few of the men decided to club together for petrol and go and get coal from the slagheaps, anywhere they could find coal.

The day finally came when I had to go for the major operation, and was told on my return home that some freinds husbands had returned to work, it was now eight month into the strike, -———
The cold had beaten them, they were promised a cash sum on the first day of thier return and coal.

Our freinds were at pits near our town, but John worked for one of the larger more millitant pits, so there was no way he would return.

Xmas came which was heartbreaking, like I said the unions took care of themselves, they had plenty of food and toys for thier children , which were all donated, but for the likes of us we got a pen for my son, and a vanity case for my daughter, we also got a 21b 6oz chicken which I didn,t knpw if it were a chicken or a sparrow lol, joking aside it was heartbreaking.

My health was not good, aparantley the surgeon had taken too much of my thyroid gland, so now It was too underactive, I had serious high blood pressure and had to take meds ,and still do for both of these for life.

So here we are our freinds are not speaking with John staying out, the house is cold, we have no gas, and only a little wood left for the fire, we have a tin of beans, the decision was not easy,—
John decided he was returning to work, I was up half the night begging him to stay out, but I knew in my heart we couldn,t go on any furthur, -——the ironic thing it was only two weeks before it ended, He had been out now for nearly a year, it was said if the men did not return after a year and a day thier jobs are lost.

Some other freinds we knew that stayed to the end did not speak to us, and still after twenty three years still don,t., -——————-but they had help, or some wives were able to work, it all depended on individuals circumstance, and I can honestly say out of twelve familys in my street our family were the only which truly suffered, the rest was either deputys still working ,or some had the fore thought to go on sick, and two were union.

So the goverment won, and now after they have destroyed and split family and freinds and closed most of the mines in the uk, they are now reconsidering opening some back up,go figure, -————- Read my published poem in writings,———-THE PRICE OF PRIDE,——- this is what it was like,————this was the price we paid for pride, ask if we would do it again for our future,and the future of our children, the answer is YES.

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