The Miner’s Strike 84/85

 

 

The Best Year and Worst Year of my life!
A year I learned so much about life and people, a year that changed me irrevocably.
I would like to write my story of that year, a miner’s wife with two small children, however, I cannot.
All that is left is the emotions, with small tableaux of memories attached, around them. Like an old,
abandoned jigsaw with many pieces missing.
I was totally behind the strike. My husband was a ‘face worker’ (at Park Mill, Clayton West).
He earned good money for a working class man, earned being the operative word. It was a dangerous
job and he often came home injured with cuts and bruises, stitches in his head or bandages on his
legs. However, he was always at work the next shift whatever his injuries! I used to have nightmares
about him being seriously injured or even killed at work.

The over whelming emotions throughout that year was mainly of hurt and anger. Up to March 1984
I had, had a very happy life, a loving family, no tragedies; I’d never had a lot, but had never been
without anything. Then all of a sudden I, WE my family, were being vilified by the media. Some of
the headlines in the newspapers were heart breaking, “Let Them Eat Grass”, is the one that has
stuck in my mind! I was deeply hurt and shocked, that these men who worked so hard and put their
lives on the line every day, were being made to look like greedy, grasping enemies of the state,
instead of men, fighting for their jobs and their communities.
I ‘hated’ Thatcher with a vengeance. I have never hated anyone before or since! It obviously ran
deep because I am ashamed to say that when she died a couple of years ago, I felt Joy! That worried
me! So yes that year I learned what it felt like to be an outcast of our society: Colored, Asian, Jew,
Queer, Prozzie, Miner!!! We need scapegoats don’t we!

There were only six mining families in our village. I always felt we were really lucky to not live in a
mining village at this time. Every second of every day, the strike overshadowed everything. Families
torn apart, the picket lines and the scabs. Brothers fighting brothers, Fathers and sons separated
by their desperate decisions.

One day every week, (Tuesday ?) I would go (to Skelmanthorpe ?) to pick up 6 food parcels and
deliver them to the other families in our village. Sometimes I would give a hand to pack some up but
I was rarely needed. Solidarity and togetherness are what I remember from those experiences.

Then was the time I needed winter coats for the kids. I was told I would be able to get some from
Kirklees all I had to do was apply. So I did! The children got a navy blue Parka each, for which I was
very grateful. But I felt ashamed, going cap in hand for handouts to the work house, was what it felt
like!

One day about half way through the strike, someone knocked on our door. I went to answer it and
there stood a person who I knew, but not very well. He had a big box of groceries in his hands. He
just gave them to me and walked back up the drive. I wept and wept. The kindness he had shown
was over whelming. It was sorely needed and I will never forget them for that.

Other kindnesses occurred. I once found an envelope with my name on, at the back of the church I
went to most Sundays. Inside was a ten pound note. Not a small amount in those days! I never found
out who left it there for me, but again the thought behind it as much as the money was very
welcome.

A pub in Halifax threw a Christmas party for Miner’s Children. My two loved it! Sandwiches, Jelly
and ice-cream, games and a present from Santa. But again it was the thought behind it that kept me
going.

I haven’t mentioned my husband. He was very quiet, spent time with the children and kept himself
to himself. I knew it was extremely hard for him. He was a worker and it affected his confidence and
self-esteem. A week before the strike finished, my husband went back to work! I understood why,
however, that was the beginning of the end for us because I just could not forgive him for that!

Ten years later we were divorced!
Gillian Davies 18/02/2018

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