A reunion aims to bring together former picketing pitmen as they remember the strike 30 years on.
Durham Miners’ Association is inviting its friends and supporters, particularly those who took part in the industrial action, to gather at its headquarters in Red Hill, Durham, to “renew old friendships and celebrate the spirit that endured a year long battle”.
The gathering will be held on Saturday.
Three decades on, the hostilities generated between the miners and the authorities remain an issue.
Its general secretary Dave Hopper said: “The recent release of the Thatcher Government’s Cabinet papers has exposed the falsehoods and deceit used to defeat the miners’ strike of 1984/85.
“Now everyone knows that Thatcher deliberately lied about the full extent of her pit closure programme and was so determined to butcher the coal industry and smash the National Union of Mineworkers that she was even preparing to use the army to break the strike.
“None of this, of course, will shock our mining communities, which fought so bravely to resist the Tory onslaught.
“We thank those unions and members of the labour movement and all who gave us unstinting and invaluable help.
“At the same time, these revelations should shame those trade union and Labour Party leaders who did not support our cause.
“Those who refused to come to our aid bear a huge responsibility, not just for our defeat, but also for weakening the whole trade union movement.
“They will be remembered in the former coalfields of Britain just as we remember those so-called leaders who betrayed the 1926 General Strike.
“The refusal of ‘New Labour’, during 13 years of government, to repeal the anti-trade union legislation, which was used to defeat us, only compounds their shame.
“Now we have to fight, with a weakened trade union movement, against draconian Tory-Liberal austerity measures which are impoverishing working people while the rich, who caused the economic crisis, have doubled their wealth since 2008.
“We need the fighting spirit which sustained us through that year-long strike more than ever because the fight for our communities which started in 1984 is still ongoing.
“I hope everyone will come on Saturday 21st and have a great time.”
The event will include refreshments and folk music performances, with a marquee to be set up in the grounds of the association’s base.
For more details visit http://www.durhamminers.org
Source – Sunderland Echo, 19 June 2014
A village is proudly displaying a newly-restored reminder of its coal mining heritage.
The Marsden Lodge Banner, which represents all those pitmen who worked at Whitburn Colliery (also known as Marsden Colliery), was returned to South Tyneside in January last year after it had been in storage for more than two decades in the Miner’s Hall in Durham.
Since then, the banner has been lovingly restored by the Marsden Banner Group, a team of enthusiastic local volunteers dedicated to preserving the area’s mining heritage.
The colourful silk banner, which features the iconic image of Marsden Rock with the adage ‘Firm as a rock we stand’, has now been put on permanent display at Whitburn Library much to the delight of Whitburn and Marsden ward members, councillors Tracey Dixon, who is on the Banner Group committee, Peter Boyack and Sylvia Spraggon.
Speaking on behalf of the ward members, Coun Boyack said: “We’re all very proud of our rich mining heritage and it’s wonderful to see the Marsden Lodge Banner restored back to its former glory and put on display in the Borough for the public to view.
“It is a treasured memento, which marks Whitburn Colliery’s contribution to the once-thriving coal mining past, and up until now, it had remained hidden from sight since 1983.
“We’re delighted it now takes pride of place in the village and is helping to keep the spirit and culture of the local mining community alive.”
Coun Dixon added: “The vibrant colliery banners are icons of mining communities but the Marsden Lodge Banner was in a poor state of repair when it was returned to the Borough.
“The restoration project has taken many months to complete but we are delighted with the finished article.
“We’re really pleased that by displaying this symbol of mining life we can remind our younger generation of the significant role this industry played in the lives of their communities.”
The community-led restoration project has been supported with £500 funding from the East Shields and Whitburn Community Area Forum and the skills of young apprentices from South Tyneside Homes Property Services Team who created the display case.
The intricate repair work was carried out by banner restorer Billy Middleton, a former blacksmith at Thornley and Easington collieries.
Whitburn Colliery opened in 1879 and was part of the South Tyneside coalmining industry until its closure in 1968.Before it went on display in Whitburn, the banner had not been seen on display since 1983 when it was carried at the centenary celebration of the Durham Miner’s Gala.
Source – Newcastle Journal 09 April 2014