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| Navigate Through Articles In The Armthorpe Villager, May, 1995|
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|Remember The Miners Strike|
|by: Ron Richardson|
|The Armthorpe Villager: May, 1995 ~ Doncaster ~ History|
At first there was a short period of inactivity, because all the miners in the Doncaster area were on strike. However, some miners decided to travel to the Nottinghamshire coalfield, to try and persuade the Notts. Miners to join the strike, this was done, without the official sanction of the Yorkshire Area NUM. It was not until the 14th March, two days after the start of the national strike, that the Executive committee of the Yorkshire Area NUM took the unanimous decision to lift all restrictions on picketing.
On the 15th March, a mass picket took place at Ollerton Colliery and it was there, that we saw the first fatality of the strike. David Gareth Jones, a 24 year old miner from South Kirby, collapsed from an injury he had received on the picket line and he died later in Mansfield infirmary.
Dr. John Jones, a Home Office pathologist said that in his opinion, David Jones dies from a haemorrhage and the cause of the bleeding could have been a collision with a post or a vehicle.
Mr Leon Brittan, who was Home Secretary at the time, made a statement in the House of Commons saying, 'There is no reason to suppose that the police were in involved in any way '. On the 19th March, it was reported in all of the newspapers, that a massive police operation, to control the deployment of more than 3,000 police into the coalfields, was to be controlled from a nerve centre, on the 13th floor of Scotland Yard. The rarely-used National Reporting Centre, formed after the 1972 miners strike, was manned by a team of senior police officers 24 hours a day and they maintained a register of all the police manpower that was available from each of the 43 forces in England and Wales, it also handled intelligence reports on the potential trouble spots and information on the movement of pickets.
After that date, it became more and more difficult to travel into the Nottingham coalfield. Not only were miners from Yorkshire, prevented from travelling to the Nottingham coalfield, but miners from as far away as Kent, were stopped at the Dartford tunnel in East London. The police recorded the registration numbers of the cars and the names of the drivers and they told the Kent miners they must return home, otherwise they would be arrested. This police action was looked upon by many people, as an infringement to our civil liberties and a great deal of legal debate took place at the time. There were other instances of violations of civil liberties.
Four miners from Bentley colliery were arrested as they were having a drink and a game of darts in a pub, in a Nottinghamshire village.
According to a report that appeared in the Guardian newspaper, the Bentley miners were detained in police cells for three hours without being charged. One of the men was reported as saying, that the police had taken their photographs and personal details from each man, which the police refused to return after they were released. He claimed that they were cautioned and ordered not to return to Nottingham.
Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse, Labour MP for Pontefract and Castleford at the time, alleged that after 19 pickets had been arrested, they were photographed by the police and taken to Mansfield police station, where they were interviewed by two police officers, who asked them how they had voted in the last election and how they would vote if the choice was between Conservative and Communist parties. They were also asked how they had voted in the election of for the NUM president when Arthur Scargill was elected, questions were also asked about the NUM branch secretary at Kellingley colliery. Mick Welsh, MP for Doncaster North also complained to the Home Office about the incident, but the Nottinghamshire police said they knew nothing about it.
We often read in our papers at the time, about the activities of flying pickets and how they played cat and mouse games with the police, but I wonder how many readers can remember the day when a plane load of 120 Hampshire police landed at East Midlands airport in a Boeing 737.
Because of the fact that pickets were finding it increasingly difficult to get into Nottingham they were allocated other picketing duties. My first picket line photographs were taken at Coal House towards the end of March 1984 when pickets managed to close the offices for one day.
When the police stopped pickets from going to Scunthorpe Steel works, they caused chaos on the M18 as they returned to Doncaster, by travelling very slowly and for a while, their convoy of cars came to a stop and tailbacks of traffic began to build up along the motorway. On another occasion similar tactics were used, when pickets blockaded the Humber Bridge.
Text & Photographs Copyright Ron Richardson 1995.
Hover over each picture for a description, or click to load larger image.
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