‘Women Against Pit Closures’ during the 1984-85 British Miners’ Strike.

Women Against Pt Closures member attacked by police at Orgreave

During the 1984-85 British Miners’ Strike, women’s groups emerged in various forms and for various purposes. Calling themselves ‘Women Against Pit Closures’, these groups across the country organised not only strike-oriented activities, support and community needs provision, but also came to act autonomously on gendered interests. In what follows I outline a brief history of the miners’ strike, the origins of womens’ activities within this strictly gendered strike and the ways in which womens’ roles were transformed through struggle, not only with the Thatcher government and the NCB, but also with men and the NUM.

Historical Context of the Miners’ Strike
The 1984-85 Miners’ Strike was arguably the most important industrial stoppage since the General Strike of 1926, comprising a loss of around 38 million working days.1 During the strike 9808 people were arrested in England and Wales, and 1504 in Scotland.2 The South Wales NUM was fined £50000 and the NUM as a whole was fined around £200000 for their activities.3 Estimates vary for the cost of the strike to the country, yet some put it as high as £2.367 million.4 It was therefore a watershed moment in the history of the working class of Britain. The strike was given an avowedly political edge due to the role the strikers saw being played by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government in attacking the publically owned mines. The strike was therefore easily perceived as a class struggle,5 and despite being portrayed as a struggle between Thatcher and Scargill; it wasn’t just Scargill’s fight, it was about people and their communities.6

Fifteen years of cheap oil supply was ended in 1973 with the Oil Crisis,7 prior to which the issue of ‘uneconomic’ pits had arisen and a total of 223 coal mines were closed during the 1967-70 Labour Government years.8 The Oil Crisis meant that coal was back in favour; the ‘Plan for Coal’ was introduced which saw the Labour government commit to a £600 million investment,9 and the NUM saw its power enhanced.10 The Conservative Party believed that the power of the NUM had to be broken,11 and launched the ‘Ridley Report’, which tabled a number of recommendations to deal with a mining strike, including hiring non-Unionised lorry drivers, adapting power stations to burn oil and coal and increasing coal stocks and imports.12 The Thatcher government changed the targets for coal mines from a production target to a financial target,13 and appointed Ian MacGregor to the National Coal Board Chair. A strike was provoked at a time favourable to the government; shortly after re-election, and at a time of high coal stocks.14

The 1984-85 strike was about jobs themselves, rather than pay or conditions.15 Because this strike was about jobs and the communities that had been built up around the needs of the mines, the feelings of those involved were often steadfast. As one miner put it; ‘We’ve got to fight, they can’t close them, they mustn’t, they can’t take them away from us too. They’ve taken everything else, the bastards’.16 There was an understanding that the miners were doing a job that few others could or would do, and whilst it was a job that no parent would choose for their child, it was often the only job available to people of mining communities.17 Most strikers and their families hoped that the strike would be short, maybe just a few months; few expected that it would last for almost a year.18 Many families reported to have found the first few months the hardest, not knowing where food was going to come from but once it was realised it was going to be a long strike people’s fear turned to anger, and survival became easier.19

WAPC and Practical Interests
It has been said that the ‘maintenance of the strike owed more to the emergence of the women’s groups than to any other single factor’.20 Women’s groups were very much part of how strikers and their families came to deal with, survive and maintain the strike. Women began organising soup kitchens and providing welfare advice, which built on the experience from previous strikes as well as what they had heard from other areas, helping both the physical and psychological survival of the strike. The spontaneous women’s movement emerged with such vigour and energy that Stead suggests ‘the miners would have found it hard to give up their strike even if they had wanted to’.21 Barnsley WAPC tell of how their group formed a few months into the strike, when a small group of women decided to write to the local paper and profess their support and to ask other like-minded women to get in contact.22 Many felt that the media was portraying women as being against the strike and felt they had to show their support and challenge the notion that families were anti-strike.23 In other places, it was the men who called for organised community support, and asked women to create groups to provide essential services in order to maintain the strike.24

Striking miners had no wages, and were also denied state benefits. Benefits could be paid to the families of miners,25 but due to changes introduced in 1971, £15 (and later £16) was deducted from striking families benefits to take into account strike pay.26 This sum was deducted despite the fact that there was no strike pay in 1984-85; indeed the benefits guidelines accepted that strike pay was unlikely.27 Added to this, single miners without families were not able to rely on the benefits paid to family members, and were denied ‘Urgent Needs Payment’.28 Therefore day-to-day survival was very much a worry in mining communities during the strike, and the first actions of women and women’s groups was often to tackle these basic, practical issues.

Women took up this issue early on in the strike advising on and helping with benefit claims,29 as well as helping with utilities companies and the council.30 They found that writing to companies as a group meant they carried more weight than if those letters were written by individuals.31 Women said that ‘we felt this practical help was of real value to the communities facing economic deprivation and it also gave us an opportunity to pass on out support directly to the miners and their families’.32 This sort of action gained respect from the men, as they could see the hard work of the women and the results this brought.33

Women began setting up soup kitchens at the hearts of their communities to feed miners and their families.34 These kitchens often became central to the communities they were in;35 a place where people could go and meet, maintaining morale and community spirit.36 Women also began organising and distributing food parcels.37 Essential to such activities was fund raising, because NUM funds went to pay for pickets.38 Therefore, in order to fund the kitchens and parcels, money had to be raised in numerous ways; from jumble sales and raffles, to sponsored walks,39 collections and market stalls.40 Women dealt with problems that arose in different ways. For example, one group spoke of how the kitchen lacked facilities to cook for the number of strikers that they needed to, so women took the food home and cooked it there.41 Another group told of how, after being denied use of the village hall, they occupied it for five days, until they were allowed use of the school kitchens.42 Barnsley WAPC set up a crèche for the children of the women involved in the community kitchen so that child care was not an issue.43 These are just some of the ways in which women took on challenges and organised essential practical services during the strike.

Activity of this kind can be seen to fit the social position of women whose lives often ‘revolve around their work as gatherers and distributors of social resources in the community’.44 There was certainly an element in the communities at the time that the men were happy for the women to collect money and feed them, but political activities remained strictly the domain of men.45 This is not to say that all men felt the same way; some were very supportive, whilst others maintained that women’s role was a domestic one.46 It is certainly true that the activities of women were to some extent conditioned by traditional gender roles in coalfield communities,47 and many women were, at least to begin with, ‘less politically involved than practically involved’.48 However, Campbell notes that it is a common, and damaging, mistake to misread the roles women played as typically feminine, and that the original activities were a means of negotiating themselves out of isolation in the home and into a recognised integral part of the community and the strike.49 Organising and running community kitchens, distributing food parcels and raising money was more than merely women acting out their traditional domestic roles in a wider community situation. Indeed, transposing issues faced in the private sphere into the public sphere makes such activities inherently political.50 Whilst women perhaps felt most confident in using skills they already had to aid and support the strike, their activities had a deep and profound impact.

The North Yorkshire WAPC group tells of how men began to help out at the community kitchens by tidying, sweeping and cleaning so that the women could leave earlier.51 This is echoed by other groups who said that the men washed up and did the food shopping.52 Whilst small, this shift in perceived gender roles is important and telling. The biggest impact was no doubt on the women. Due to the public situation of the women’s activities, women necessarily had to engage in overtly political activity. Negotiating for and organising a place to undertake their activities, raising money and engaging with the men, the Union and the strike were political acts that consequently helped to further politicise the women. The activities the women undertook drew them into the political arena more than ever.53 As they became more involved with the strike, the women found they ‘had untold enthusiasm, and energy, and it seemed at the time as though there wasn’t enough outlet for our talents. We wanted to do something more important. We had made our way, slowly and quietly, politically, but now we needed more contact with the men and the things that they were doing’.54 The practical role they had played opened a political realm which they sought to become active in. They demanded more of a say in the strike and the Union they were excluded from. They were still referred to as ‘the ladies’, and only men could be members of the Miners Institute,55 however through their activities they had gained respect, and more of their demands were met. The women’s movements had emerged out of the practical needs of the coalfield communities, but through their actions were changing the attitudes of the community itself, and becoming gendered in their outlook.56

Coalfield communities tended to be patriarchal communities, built around the needs of the pit, which was often the sole source of employment.57 Since women could not work in the mines, there existed a strong sexual division of labour, with the men working in mining, and the women generally being confined to the domestic sphere.58 There was also little recognition that the role women played, and their unpaid labour in the home was essential to community survival.59 It was rare that women would have anything more than a part-time job.60 Campbell suggests that mining communities were models of patriarchal relations,61 which should not be romanticised.62 However, it is partly because of this strict division of labour that women became so active in the strike. Tilly says that women have historically been militant in mining communities because of the degree of dependence that women have on the wages of men.63 Added to this, the connection that women often feel with one another in such communities, due to shared routines and identities, certainly aided their gendered outlook when groups were formed.64 Despite the patriarchal nature of mining communities, those who lived there felt a strong affection for such close-knit places. Women who talk of the strike often reiterate that they are from mining families and communities and will defend these no matter what.65
WAPC: Towards Strategic Gender Interests
That women came to organise autonomously and actively in support of the strike came to alter attitudes and perceptions. By becoming politically active alongside women of their own communities, the women began to see their connections in gendered terms.66 The women could not be members of the NUM, as they could not be miners,67 meaning that the decision to strike had been taken without women,68 and many decisions continued to be made without the input of affected women.69 Men saw it as ‘our industry, our union, and our fight’, and women therefore found it difficult to get on the agenda of the union.70 Women had to fight against men, in order to fight for them.71 By putting themselves at the centre of the economic struggle,72 women had earned the respect and gratitude of men, and they soon became indispensable to the strike. Thanks to this, women participated in NUM meetings and organisation more than ever before.73

Beckwith, in her articles on both the Lancashire WAPC and the Pittston coal strike, has analysed the ways in which women articulated their position and negotiated central roles in the strikes.74 She sees a contradiction in the way in which women in the WAPC articulated their position as both ‘miner related’, and their attempt to position themselves as autonomous working class women fighting for their class and community.75 Because of their need to be accepted as legitimate participants in the strike, the emphasis on being ‘miner related’ was influential, with wives and mothers gaining the most standing from this.76 However women also grew to demand their own say, and engage in their own autonomous actions that were less sanctioned by the men they supported, and thus an alternate identity as independent working class women emerged that was to some extent in contradiction with their identity as ‘miner related’.77 The women therefore stood both as women, and for men.78

Women began to participate in more directly political activities such as picketing, attending and organising rallies and speaking in public,79 partly in order to meet the practical need of the strike, but also because the women had begun to forge an identity for themselves which sought to go beyond the useful, yet limiting role that the activity of the women had so far allowed. It seems that such activities encompassed a shift in interests from those defined by the needs of male strikers, and the community to those who saw such communities in gendered terms.

Although women of the coalfields participated in political activities to a greater extent during the strike than they had tended to before, this is not to say that such women had been apolitical; they had a history of political involvement which fed into WAPC. Many women had not been politically active prior to the strike,80 but some had, and this is necessary to acknowledge. For instance, the women that set up the Sheffield WAPC had been active in Unions and the Communist Party.81 Gier-Viskovatoff and Porter mention that active women had a history of participation in the Labour Party and the Communist Party.82 Other women had been active in the re-election campaign of Tony Benn,83 and others had been fighting to get Working Men’s Institutes opened to women.84 Many women, on the other hand, were happy to say that they had never been active before the strike, often calling themselves ordinary housewives and mothers.85

November 1984 saw women joining the picket line as miners began breaking the strike.86 Women who had heard stories of picket lines decided to become more involved.87 Many women were nervous about picketing due to the violence and intimidation they heard reported by the men,88 but were also determined to get involved in the frontline of the ‘class war’, as one woman put it.89 Some of the women report that they never thought that they would stand on a picket line, but enjoyed it when they did.90 Women had to struggle against many NUM branch officials, who often told women that they could not picket as they were not insured,91 and others sceptical about the presence of women on the picket line. However, the women’s presence soon became a morale boost for the men.92 Indeed women often outnumbered men on the picket lines,93 and were often subject to violence and intimidation,94 as well as arrest.95 The sexism of the police meant the women were subject to taunts, gestures and comments suggesting they were ‘lesbians’ and ‘whores’, and asked if they wanted to earn £5 in the police van.96 Therefore women became active in the overtly political aspects of the strike, despite the significant risks and problems that had to be faced in order to do so. Women were now participating in the strike in ways they had never imagined, and were carving out a political space for themselves.

Public speaking was another way that women got involved in the directly political aspects of the strike. This was a very important aspect of women’s activity, as speaking at meetings was essential in raising money for the WAPC groups. Gier-Viskovatoff and Porter mention that this type of activity was also evident in the 1926 General Strike and was a way in which the women ‘crossed over the line between the private world of home and the public world of men and union politics’.97 For women who, on the whole, had never done anything like this, the transformative effects of activism were clear.98 Women tell of how at first scripts were written by men, but that women soon started to write their own, or speak without a script.99 One woman tells of the pride felt at addressing her first rally; ‘it was unbelievable: this ordinary woman who liked to sit in the house knitting, was now going to speak in public’.100

A third public activity that transcended the practical-strategic divide undertaken by women was the organisation and attendance of rallies. As well as the two main women’s rallies at Barnsley and London, there were countless other rallies organised and attended by WAPC groups. The Barnsley Women’s Rally, on May 12th 1984, was an all-women affair to celebrate the role that women were playing in the miners’ strike.101 Around 10000 women attended,102 and women speakers took to the stage alongside Scargill.103 The speakers talked about gendered involvement in the strike and the limited notion of emancipation that many of the men held,104 showing that gender had become an essential aspect of women’s involvement in the strike. After such an important rally for women, there was widespread anger that the only pictures in the media were those of women kissing Scargill. One woman reflects on this by saying; ‘It was too threatening, working class women getting organised, when we are brought up to be passive and think we have one role in life’.105 The London Women’s rally, on 11th August 1984 was another huge gathering of activist women involved in the miners strike, which saw between 15000 and 25000 marchers.106 The women attempted to present a petition, signed by thousands of women to the Queen.107 These specifically gendered events showed the degree of autonomy and support that the WAPC movement had. Whilst evidently being linked to the strike, and the practical needs of this, the women were also able to organise educative events such as these for themselves, and pursue issues that they saw as important to their own lives.

These increasingly public actions on the part of women helped to empower the women and change their perception in their communities. Women recounted one story in which the men had told the women that they could not go to a rally with them in London, yet as the women wanted to go, they ended up physically pushing themselves on to the coach in order to attend!108 Others tell of how the men were made to stay at home and look after the children so that the women could go to rallies and meetings across the country.109 This challenge to gender roles had an impact on the families and also showed that women felt their actions were just as important as those of the men. Women also took part in organising smaller local rallies,110 and attended Union conferences such as the TUC conference in Brighton.111 Rallies were crucial to keeping morale high during the strike as they were a show of unity and power which would be impossible if people were to stay in their isolated communities.112

The Birth of a National Organisation
Rallies such as the Barnsley Rally helped transform WAPC into a unified national body, and led to events such as the first National Conference. To begin with, women’s groups had tended to be informal and practically minded, yet as a women’s activism developed, more formal and organised structures were necessary to enable the women to articulate their autonomous position. Women recount how the first meetings were disorderly and informal, as the women involved had little experience of such activities.113 Women’s groups often did not want to get bogged down with formal procedures of voting on everything and taking notes, but wanted to get on with practical things that would benefit those who needed their support.114

Many similar groups began to emerge throughout coalfield areas,115 and informal structures and links between the groups began to be formed.116 In the organising of Barnsley Women’s Rally, Barnsley WAPC came in contact with parallel groups across the country, and as a consequence of the Rally, WAPC was as good as a national organised movement.117 The National WAPC movement was formed officially in August 1984, after the first Women’s Conference at Northern College, on July 22nd.118 This conference had been called to discuss setting up a national body and organising a rally in London.119 The conference, as with other activities of WAPC, was more than merely practically necessary to form a coherent organisation, but also functioned as an educative experience of autonomous organising for women.120 The organisation was specifically female only,121 and it was agreed that groups must contain at least 75% (100% at leadership level) miner related women, and a maximum of 25% non-miner related women.122 As a basis for a national organisation, the movement came up with specific aims, including supporting the strike, strengthening women’s organisations and establishing such organisations in all areas, promoting education for women, and maintaining a close relationship with the NUM.123

WAPC decided that they wished to be independent of the NUM, as they did not want to be merely a supportive body for the striking men, but were to develop and pursue their own initiatives and use their own tactics.124 Despite the refusal to be more closely associated with the NUM, women’s groups did utilise the facilities that the NUM placed at their disposal; for example the use of offices at the NUM Head Quarters, whilst insisting on their independence as an organisation.125 Therefore WAPC was a women’s organisation with its own agenda, remaining autonomous from, yet linked to the NUM.

WAPC: Links and Influences
The influences on the WAPC and the links that were built up throughout the strike reflect the way in which women often expand the aims of strikes.126 During the strike, women from different groups travelled around the country, and abroad, meeting various groups that supported the strike as well as parallel women’s groups. Support came in from actors, film stars, lesbian and gay groups, as well as a range of political parties on the left.127 Links were also established with CND, miners in Namibia,128 and most importantly the women of Greenham Common.129 One member of Barnsley WAPC comments on this by saying; ‘I think the Greenham Common women and the CND have been an inspiration to our Women’s Movement. It shows what women can do’.130 The Greenham women have been attributed as a major reason for the autonomy of the women’s movement from the NUM, as the women involved wanted to reflect what they saw as the changing situation of women.131

The links, associations and travelling undertaken in the strike was an educative experience for women. They tell of how discussing and becoming interested in politics and world affairs made them aware of situations such as Chile, Soweto and Greenham Common.132 Similarly others note that attitudes towards feminism were subject to change through women’s activism.133 Whilst many of the women maintained that they were not feminists, the goals of feminism certainly impacted upon the WAPC movement.134 Many WAPC members began investigating feminist ideas, and issues surrounding women’s rights.135 In an interview with Spare Rib, a feminist magazine, one member of WAPC said of this; ‘I’m not a feminist…I don’t know though, I’ve read your magazine, I agree with some of it but I’m not what yous are, you’re too feminist you are’.136

One woman reflected on the educative nature of the women’s movement when addressing a meeting in the GLC; ‘Now flower, I’d like to get this straight. We’re miners’ wives. That doesn’t mean that we’re simple, only that we’re not used to many of the phrases you used. I, for one, admit to not knowing a lot of the words and most of the concepts. But this I promise you: I’ve had three months up to now on the picket lines and my political education is being acquired at a gallop. Stick around and I’ll come back in a year’s time and answer all of your questions’.137 The change in many of the women’s views and a growth in their self-confidence is clearly a factor of their growing activism as women, facilitated by the practical requirements of the strike that had led the women into the political sphere more than ever.

Women’s activism during the strike pushed acceptable boundaries of gender behaviour.138 Challenging the gendered division of labour was inherent in the levels of activism many women undertook during the strike, and often put strain on family and marriage relations.139 However, others believe that the strike improved family relations by increasing respect and a sense of equality as well as giving women an important activity outside of the household.140 ‘Women who were born into traditional roles were forced by circumstances beyond their control to break from those boundaries’.141 For women that had for so long been portrayed as dominated by their husbands, their activities in the strike, this view been forever changed.142

The Legacy of WAPC
The sometimes significant shifts in gender relations and attitudes that occurred due to female activism in the miners’ strike has been tested since the return to work in 1985. Indeed, it has been noted that women tended to return to the family and community roles that they played before the strike, and lasting change has been limited.143 However, women at the time were often unsure of how things would turn out, with many saying that whilst the men thought things should return to how it was previously, many women were less than happy for this to happen.144 One woman suggests that ‘after the strike, we will have to find somewhere to channel our energy, most of us will never be able to sit at home again. We, as women, have realised the power we have to do something like this and to keep it going, day after day’.145 Some WAPC groups remained active despite the end of the strike, feeling that there was still a need for such an organisation, indeed some felt that the groups should have continued to provide support and food parcels for families after the return to work.146 ‘Our group will go on, and stay together. It would be silly to let such a good thing go. We can’t and we won’t give up. We will never be destroyed: we have a fighting spirit that will last forever’.147 Many of the women proclaimed that they could never go back to the roles they played and the lives they lead before the strike, and were determined to continue with their political activism and education beyond the strike.148

Women continued to be politically active after the strike in a number of ways. For example, joining the Labour party,149 continuing to organise and coordinate WAPC,149 including the struggles during the 1990s against further closures,151 as well as other political activities such as the anti-apartheid movement.152 The Labour party was often a popular route for women to take, with some attempting to set up women’s sections,153 and others becoming candidates for the party.154 Women often felt that education was essential to changing their situation, and went into formal education to satisfy a desire that had grown from the practical political education they had received as activists. Elliot says that ‘[i]ndividuals and groups, especially women, did take up new learning opportunities in a variety of settings and ways’ after the end of the strike.155 In South Wales, women set up the DOVE institute, as a way of pursuing further education.156 Another woman says that ‘I’m considering going to Northern College and my husband agrees this will be alright’.157 Whilst some of the women involved in the WAPC movement did return to traditional roles after the strike,158 they were able to use the experiences and knowledge they had gained through their activism in their own situation and environment.159

The activism of women was incredibly important to their own lives as well as those of others; ‘The strike was worth millions to me. Our women’s group will continue to flourish. It will go on. We suddenly found out that there was life after marriage, we have taken a political step forward in a year, and formed friendships that most women would take a lifetime to achieve, and we don’t intend to go back into the background. Our husbands don’t want us to either (even though some of them have been heard to pry, ‘Please give us back our wives’). We have made a mark in this town, we’ve made a space for ourselves in this world, and we fully intend to keep it. As a matter of fact we’re going to make an even bigger space, or go down trying’.160

Much of the early energy for the establishment of WAPC groups emerged from the practical necessity of feeding and caring for the community facing extreme hardship because of the strike. These interests are linked to the traditional role that women played in these communities, as mainly domestic care-givers. However, by removing this role from the private sphere and placing it squarely at the centre of the community, women demanded respect and gratitude for the services they provided. The provision of food parcels, soup kitchens and benefit advice meant that women had to engage politically with the community, the NUM and the state, negotiating resources, funding, space and time. The very fact that women organised as women, as non-miners, meant that an explanation and positioning of their role in regards to the strike was necessary. Because of their organisation as women, and often in the face of the discrimination they faced, the women were forced to tackle the basis and causes of their position in society, which drew them into taking on more strategic, or theoretical positions regarding the women’s movement and their aims. Influences such as Greenham Common, CND and the wider feminist movement certainly impacted upon the actions and belief in women that the groups facilitated. The women involved were undoubtedly changed by the experience and the passion and bravery that the women showed should be regarded as a central element of the miners’ strike. A woman from the North Yorkshire WAPC sums it up: ‘in the coalfields there is a new breed of woman who are only as old as the strike, who have won the admiration of people the world over. They have fought not behind their men, but shoulder to shoulder with them. When histories of the strike are written, all will agree that the women were glorious’.161

List of references
1. J. Winterton, R. Winterton, Coal, Crisis and Conflict: The 1984-85 Miners’ Strike in Yorkshire (Manchester University Press, Manchester, 1989) p. 1.
2. Socialist Party of Great Britain, ‘The Strike Weapon: Lessons of the Miners’ Strike’, 1985, p. 6.
3. Ibid., p. 6.
4. Ibid., p. 8
5. J. Miller, You Can’t Kill the Spirit: Women in a Welsh Mining Valley (The Women’s Press, London, 1986) p. 6.
6. J. Stead, Never The Same Again: Women and the Miners’ Strike (The Women’s Press, London, 1987) p. 6.
7. Winterton, Winterton, Coal, Crisis and Conflict, p. 9.
8. Socialist Party of Great Britain, ‘The Strike Weapon: Lessons of the Miners’ Strike’, 1985, p. 3.
9. Winterton and Winterton, Coal, Crisis and Conflict, p. 12.
10. Winterton and Winterton, Coal, Crisis and Conflict, p. 9.
11. A. Brooks, ‘A Very Political Animal’, in T. Parker, Ed., Red Hill: A Mining Community (Heinemann, London, 1986) p. 111.
12. L. Sutcliffe and B. Hill, Let Them Eat Coal: The Political Use of Social Security During the Miners’ Strike (Canary Press, London, 1985) p. 40.
13. Winterton and Winterton, Coal, Crisis and Conflict, p. 22.
14. SPGB, ‘The Strike Weapon’, p. 3.
15. Stead, Never the Same Again, p. 10.
16. Miller, You Can’t Kill the Spirit, p. 17.
17. Ibid., p. 48.
18. Ibid., p. 17.
19. Ibid., p. 17 and p. 34.
20. Winterton and Winterton, Coal, Crisis and Conflict, p. 128.
21. Stead, Never the Same Again, p. 10.
22. Barnsley WAPC, Women Against Pit Closures, p. 6.
23. Ibid.,p. 5.
24. J. Davies and S. James, ‘Women From the Valleys Turn Activist’, in V. Seddon, Ed., The Cutting Edge: Women and the Pit Strike (Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1986) p. 17.
25. Sutcliffe and Hill, Let Them Eat Coal, p. 3.
26. Ibid., p. 2.
27. Ibid., p. 11.
28. Ibid., p. 2.
29. Sutcliffe and Hill, Let Them Eat Coal, p. 10.
30. Miller, You Can’t Kill the Spirit, p. 19.
31. Ibid., p. 19.
32. Barnsley WAPC, Women Against Pit Closures, p. 10.
33. Miller, You Can’t Kill the Spirit, p. 19.
34. Barnsley WAPC, Women Against Pit Closures, p. 7.
35. Spare Rib, ‘Women Winning the Strike’, 147 (1984) p. 6.
36. Winterton and Winterton, Coal, Crisis and Conflict, pp. 123-124.
37. A. J. Richards, Miners on Strike: Class Solidarity and Division in Britain (Berg, Oxford, 1994) p. 150.
38. Ibid., p. 125.
39. Dolby, Norma Dolby’s Diary, p. 15 and p. 49.
40. Barnsley WAPC, Women Against Pit Closures, p. 28.
41. Miller, You Can’t Kill the Spirit, p. 20.
42. Notts Women Strike Back, Film. [Unknown Production] (1985).
43. Barnsley WAPC, Women Against Pit Closures, p. 16.
44. Kaplan, ‘Female Consciousness and Collective Action’, p. 546
45. Big Pit: National Coal Mining Museum, ‘Strike! 25 Years: 1984-2009, Coal (2009) p. 45.
46. Davies and James, ‘Women From the Valleys’, in Seddon, The Cutting Edge, p. 19.
47. Winterton and Winterton, Coal, Crisis and Conflict, p. 122.
48. D. Waddington, M. Wykes and C. Crtitcher, Split at the Seams? Community, Continuity and Change after the 1984-5 Coal Dispute (Open University Press, Milton Keynes, 1991) p. 90.
49. B. Campbell, ‘Proletarian Patriarchs and the Real Radicals’, in V. Seddon, Ed., The Cutting Edge: Women and the Pit Strike (Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1986) p. 274.
50. Rowbotham, Women in Movement, p. 301.
51. North Yorkshire WAPC, Strike 84-85, p. 14.
52. Spare Rib, ‘Women Winning the Strike’, p. 6.
53. Gier-Viskovatoff and Porter, ‘Women of the British Coalfields’, p. 214.
54. Miller, You Can’t Kill the Spirit, p. 18.
55. Ibid., p. 18.
56. Spare Rib, ‘Women Winning the Strike’, p. 6.
57. North Yorkshire WAPC, Strike 84-85, p. 12.
58. Waddington, Wykes and Critcher, Split at the Seams?, p. 74.
59. Tilly, ‘Paths of Proletarianization’, p. 416.
60. North Yorkshire WAPC, p. 12.
61. Campbell, ‘Proletarian Patriarchs’, in Seddon, The Cutting Edge, p. 254.
62. Ibid., p. 281.
63. Tilly, ‘Paths of Proletarianization’, p. 416.
64. Kaplan, ‘Female Consciousness and Collective Action’, p. 547.
65. Barnsley WAPC, Women Against Pit Closures, p. 28.
66. K. Sutton, ‘Not the Most Important Person in the World’, in T. Parker, Ed., Red Hill: A Mining Community (Heinemann, London, 1986) p. 142.
67. Dolby, Norma Dolby’s Diary, p. 12.
68. Ibid., p. 12.
69. Miller, You Can’t Kill the Spirit, p. 22.
70. Campbell, ‘Proletarian Patriarchs’, in Seddon, The Cutting Edge, p. 250.
71. Ibid., p. 280.
72. Ibid., p. 261.
73. Miller, You Can’t Kill the Spirit, p. 22.
74. Beckwith, ‘Lancashire Women Against Pit Closures’, p. 1036.
75. Ibid., p. 1044-1045.
76. Ibid., p. 1044.
77. Ibid., p. 1045.
78. Ibid., p. 1045.
79. Ibid., p. 1046.
80. ‘Anne Lilburn’, Trade Films Production, Northern Film and TV Archive, Channel 4, (Tyne and Wear, 11/10/1984).
81. Sheffield WAPC, ‘We Are Women, We Are Strong…’, pp. 5-7.
82. Gier-Viskovatoff and Porter, ‘Women of the British Coalfields’, p. 202.
83. S. Rowbotham and J. McCrindle, ‘More then Just a Memory: Some Political Implications of Women’s Involvement in the Miners’ Strike’, Feminist Review 23 (1986) p. 110.
84. Ibid., p. 111.
85. P. Street, ‘Please Just Ignore Us’, in T. Parker, Ed., Red Hill: A Mining Community (Heinemann, London, 1986) p. 118.
86. Winterton and Winterton, Coal, Crisis and Conflict, p. 126.
87. Miller, You Can’t Kill the Spirit, p. 21.
88. Barnsley WAPC, Women Against Pit Closures, p. 30.
89. Miller, You Can’t Kill the Spirit, p. 21.
90. ‘Notts Women Strike Back’ [Unknown Production] (1985).
91. Winterton and Winterton, Coal, Crisis and Conflict, p. 126.
92. Ibid., p. 126.
93. Davies and James, ‘Women From the Valleys’, in Seddon, The Cutting Edge, p. 19.
94. Miller, You Can’t Kill the Spirit, p. 18.
95. Ibid., p. 130.
96. Sutton, ‘Not the Most Important Person’, in Parker, Red Hill p. 141.
97. Gier-Viskovatoff and Porter, ‘Women of the British Coalfields’, p. 209.
98. Brooks, ‘A Very Political Animal’, in Parker, Red Hill, p. 110.
99. Davies and James, ‘Women From the Valleys’, in Seddon, The Cutting Edge, p. 20.
100. Miller, You Can’t Kill the Spirit, p. 37.
101. Barnsley WAPC, Women Against Pit Closures, p. 19.
102. B. Elliot, Ed., Yorkshire’s Flying Pickets in the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike. Base on the Diary of Silverwood Miner Bruce Wilson (Wharncliffe Books, Sheffield, 2004) p. 49.
103. North Yorkshire WAPC, ‘We Are Women, We Are Strong…’, p. 52-53, and Barnsley WAPC, Women Against Pit Closures, p. 19.
104. North Yorkshire WAPC, Strike 84-85, p. 53.
105. Davies and James, ‘Women From the Valleys’, in Seddon, The Cutting Edge, p. 55.
106. Barnsley WAPC, Women Against Pit Closures, p. 38.
107. Ibid., p. 37.
108. National Coal Mining Museum, ‘Strike!’ p. 45.
109. Stead, Never the Same Again, p. 16.
110. Miller, You Can’t Kill the Spirit, p. 118.
111. Ibid., p. 129.
112. Ibid., p. 24.
113. North Yorkshire WAPC, Strike 84-85, p. 7.
114. Miller, You Can’t Kill the Spirit, p. 18, and Parker, p. 110.
115. Barnsley WAPC, p. 10.
116. Winterton and Winterton, p. 128, and Barnsley WAPC, Barnsley Women Volume 2, p. 67.
117. Barnsley WAPC, Women Against Pit Closures, p. 23.
118. Stead, Never the Same Again, p. 21.
119. Barnsley WAPC, Women Against Pit Closures, p. 40.
120. Stead, Never the Same Again, p. 14.
121. Beckwith, ‘Lancashire Women Against Pit Closures’, p. 1052, and Barnsley WAPC, Women Against Pit Closures, p. 29.
122. Stead, Never the Same Again, p. 22.
123. North Yorkshire WAPC, Strike 84-85, p. 60.
124. Barnsley WAPC, Women Against Pit Closures, p. 11, and Spare Rib, ‘Women Winning the Strike’, p. 7.
125. Winterton and Winterton, Coal, Crisis and Conflict, p. 128.
126. Kaplan, ‘Female Consciousness’, p. 549.
127. Miller, You Can’t Kill the Spirit, p. 24.
128. Stead, Never the Same Again, p. 7.
129. Davies and James, ‘Women From the Valleys’, in Seddon, The Cutting Edge, p. 59; Campbell, ‘Proletarian Patriarchs’, in Seddon, The Cutting Edge, p. 272-273; Spare Rib, ‘Women Winning the Strike’, p. 26; Spence, ‘Women, Wives and the Campaign Against Pit Closures’, p. 54; ‘Notts Women Strike Back’ [Unknown Production] (1985).
130. Barnsley WAPC, Barnsley Women Volume 2, p. 42.
131. Barnsley WAPC, Women Against Pit Closures, p. 11.
132. Stead, Never the Same Again, p. 7.
133. R. Samuel, B. Bloomfield and G. Boanas, Eds., The Enemy Within: Pit Villages and the Miners’ Striek of 1984-85 (Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1986) p. 157.
134. Street, ‘Please Just Ignore Us’, in Parker, Red Hill, p. 122.
135. Ibid., p. 122.
136. Spare Rib, ‘Women Winning the Strike’, p. 26.
137. North Yorkshire WAPC, Strike 84-85, p. 56.
138. Samuel, Bloomfield and Boanas, The Enemy Within, p. 160.
139. North Yorkshire WAPC, Strike 84-85, p. 19.
140. Street, ‘Please Just Ignore Us’, in Parker, Red Hill, pp. 112-113.
141. T. Holden, Queen Coal: Women and the Miners’ Strike (Setton Publishing, Gloucestershire, 2005) p. 16.
142. Barnsley WAPC, Barnsley Women Volume 2, p. 47.
143. Waddington, Wykes and Critcher, Split at the Seams?, pp. 83-84.
144. Sheffield WAPC, ‘We Are Women, We Are Strong…’, p. 52.
145. Barnsley WAPC, Women Against Pit Closures, p. 29.
146. Dolby, Norma Dolby’s Diary, p. 80.
147. Miller, You Can’t Kill the Spirit, p. 42.
148. Spare Rib, ‘Women Winning the Strike’, p. 26.
149. North Yorkshire WAPC, Strike 84-85, p. 62.
150. Barnsley WAPC, Women Against Pit Closures, p. 95.
151. Ibid., p. 90.
152. Waddington, Wykes and Critcher, Split at the Seams?, p. 87.
153. North Yorkshire WAPC, Strike 84-85, p. 62.
154. Sheffield WAPC, ‘We Are Women, We Are Strong…’,p. 74.
155. Elliot, Yorkshire’s Flying Pickets, p. 11.
156. National Coal Mining Museum, Strike!, p. 25.
157. Sheffield WAPC, ‘We Are Women, We Are Strong…’, p. 52.
158. Seddon, The Cutting Edge, p. 62.
159. Sheffield WAPC, ‘We Are Women, We Are Strong…’, p. 74.
160. Miller, You Can’t Kill the Spirit, p. 29.
161. North Yorkshire WAPC, Strike 84-85, p. 5.

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Oct 20 2017 15:10


  • ‘I was constantly told that this is the one thing we must never lose, the strength and unity of women! We have had it for moments in the past and then lost it. This time we must build on what we have re-discovered…that we have the power, and this time no-one is going to con us into giving it away’

    Sheffield Women Against Pit Closures, ‘We are Women, We are Strong…’

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