the North Staffordshire Miners Wives Action Group
[The North staffs
Miners Wives Action group now has its own web site. Click HERE
to view it.]
Miners Wives was formed in 1985 from the members of the ten food centres
which were set up in the 1984 strike around the North Staffs coalfield.
When the strike ended, our aims were to give support to the sacked
miners and their families and to make sure they were never forgotten
for the sacrifices they gave to the strike. We became members of the
Justice for Mineworkers Campaign.
When the strike
ended it was really the beginning for our group, because for us there
was no going back and the group gave solidarity and support to others
in struggle and got involved to help trade unionists at Wapping, Silentnight
workers, Seafarers, Liverpool Dockers, women workers at Downing Street
and Anti Deportation campaigns and many more disputes all over the
country. The group travelled as far afield as Belfast, where on one
of their trips the women got arrested by police at Manchester airport
under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and were held by Special branch
officers for eight hours.
In 1985 the group
put on a "Here we go in North Staffs" exhibition at the
Potteries Museum which was opened on October 12th by Arthur Scargill.
The exhibition told the story of how men and women and their families
from the mining community came together in the struggle against pit
closures and the fight that was put up against the police, the courts
and the media for twelve long months and why that struggle continues.
In January 1986,
resulting in political involvement with Banner Theatre Group from
Birmingham, the group were given a grant from West Midland Arts to
work with Banner on singing and writing songs about their experiences
which resulted with the group putting on their first show called "Unfinished
Business". This was followed by a long list of tours and gigs
all over the country with workers and trade unionists booking the
group to hear their songs of struggle.
No Going Back
In 1989 the group travelled to Consett County Durham to record a tape
of their songs and experiences and this resulted in a tape being produced
and a new show which were both called "No Going Back". All
monies raised would go to the Justice for Mineworkers Campaign.
of the 'No Going Back' cassette, 1989
After two years of fundraising and campaigning the group were proud
to commission a sculpture dedicated to Joe Green and David Jones two
Yorkshire miners who were killed on the picket lines. This was unveiled
at the Potteries Museum in Hanley, Stoke on Trent in 1991 were it
is now on permanent display in the community history gallery. The
sculpture was the work of Frank Casey from St Albans and was unveiled
by David Jones family.
To coincide with
the unveiling the group held a week of events around Stoke, which
premiered Ken Loach's film "Hidden Agenda" and a "songs
of struggle" show at the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle, Staffs.
at this brilliant sculpture today, it does indeed reflect and depict
what took place in 1984 and 1985....in the course of that dispute
we saw the birth of the magnificent Women's Support Groups....(they)
have not gone away....they're fighting not only for the mining industry
but inequalities, injustice, wherever it raises its ugly head...."
(NUM President Arthur Scargill)
strike is etched in my memory and always will be. It's part of everything
I do every day. When I see those swines opposite, the strike is just
helping me, guiding me, knowing what my job has to be." (Dennis
In 1992 the Tories announced the pit closure programme and once again
the group sprang into action to fight against the pit closures and
to save their own and last pit Trentham Colliery.
Following a meeting
of National Women Against Pit Closures in Sheffield the group set
up the first of many pit camps outside the gates of Trentham Colliery.
The support and solidarity the group received was great and people
visited the camp on a daily basis, not only from this country but
all over the world. Interest in the pit camps began to fade from the
media so in the middle of the night on Tuesday 11th May 1993, three
women from the group, to highlight the campaign, broke through the
tight security of the colliery and chained themselves to railings
by the two mile deep No 1 pit shaft and stayed there for three days
and four nights, leaving a fourth member of the group to co-ordinate
PIT CAMP MEMBERS
"The Pit Camp was set up on the 11th of January 1993 in the
early hours of the morning by the North Staffs Miners' Wives ACTION
Group. Within hours of it being set up, it became the focal point
for the local community to show their anger at the government's
decision to shut Trentham and turn the local area into an industrial
wasteland, as not only would 1,400 miners be thrown on the scrapheap
but another 5,000 jobs would also be threatened, leaving little
hope for the future. Offers of support have inundated the camp,
from people in all walks of life. Particular thanks must go to
Brent Miners' Support Group who have provided the caravan. Let's
all stand together in the fight for jobs, as together WE WILL
WIN!" (Text of Pit Camp leaflet)
In 1993 they were contacted by Peter Cheeseman the then director of
the New Victoria Theatre in Newcastle under Lyme, Staffs to make a
documentary play of their story of the occupation of Trentham. This
was to become a musical documentary play called "Nice Girls"
which ran for many months at the theatre and then went on to tour
in Paris and was later chosen by the London Theatre Museum for its
Video Archive of Stage performance to be recorded on film for future
Trentham Colliery 11th - 14th May 1993
After the success
of the play the group's next project in 1994 was to make a video tape
about the memorial sculpture and the tape pays tribute to the historic
miners strike and all those who played a part in that struggle against
pit closures. It marked the 10th anniversary of the strike and all
proceeds from the sale went to Justice for Mineworkers Campaign. The
video was named "We are not Defeated."
The group continues
its work with and for victimised miners fighting in defence of jobs,
unions and victimised workers. The group has recently been campaigning
on the picket lines with striking fire fighters and on peace marches
against the war in Iraq.
Next year (2004)
is the 20th anniversary of the miners strike and the group is fundraising
for events to take place throughout the year. These include a fitting
plaque to stand beside the memorial sculpture, a photographic exhibition
of the strike and a celebration and weekend gathering of National
Women Against Pit Closures and many plans for further events all over
the country. We will not let the historic miners strike be forgotten
it was a strike that inspired working people everywhere.
We came together
..we're still here
We're still fighting
are not defeated.
The North staffs
Miners Wives Action group now has its own web site. Click HERE
to view it.