1984 - Page 4
Some Pickets Arrested And Women Against Pit Closures Set Up
On 9th April 1984, 100 men were arrested by police North Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire in some of the worst violence of the strike. By 12th April there were 1,000 plus. Anne Scargill and others set up ‘Women against Pit Closures’. They met women from Nottinghamshire and 20 of them did some peaceful picketing. However police reinforcements arrived and 4 of the women were arrested including Anne Scargill who was bound over until October 1984.
A Woman, Lesley Boulton's Story
Lesley Boulton: "There had been some stuff going off before I arrived but I don't know exactly what happened. A few stones going over - nothing major at all. There was a standoff for a while - a few stones went over, and then there was a massive cavalry charge up into the village.
"The ranks of the police who were several deep opened up and the police did a series of cavalry charges and pushed us back into the village and then blockades were set up - a police blockade at one side of the bridge and a miners blockade at the other side of the bridge.
This was the very moment the picture was taken.
Lesley Boulton at Orgreave, 1984
© John Harris
"There's a T-junction there and a bus stop. I was attending to a man who was on the ground and seemed to have some chest injuries."
"I was standing trying to attract the attention of a police officer in the road to get him an ambulance. Because I thought, I don't know how serious it was, but it warranted some medical attention."
"The skin of my teeth"
"As I stood up to attract this policeman's attention, this officer on a police horse just bore down on me."
"Fortunately for me there was someone standing behind me who was also with the injured miner, who just yanked me out of the way."
"John Harris, who was taking the pictures, was using a motor drive and I've seen not just the famous photograph but the subsequent picture which shows the baton going down very close to me."
"I felt it go past me. I was just missed by the skin of my teeth really."
"That part was very, very disturbing. Because the police were actually having a very good time, they were enjoying this huge exercise of brutal authority, so I found that very disturbing."
"You got the sense that they were just out of control and quite a few miners were injured on the day. One young lad that I took a photo off had his leg broken. There were quite a lot of injuries."
GS: "If the policeman's baton had hit you, would it probably have knocked you out?"
LB: "Oh absolutely, without equivocation."
GS: "Do you think the policeman thought you were a miner?"
LB: "I don't know, I was holding a camera as I was trying to attract attention and I don't know what he thought really. The police were completely carried away. Some of them were laughing and obviously enjoying this exercise of their power.
GS: "Did it put you off?"
LB: "No, it didn't put me off, it made me more determined to go. We were sort of getting used to the fact that Sheffield and South Yorkshire were a police state, insofar as if you wanted to go to Nottinghamshire from Sheffield (down the M1) there would be constant convoys of police."
"At every sliproad between here and Nottingham there were police roadblocks at the end of the sliproads and the police would decide whether you were allowed to go on or not."
Go to BBC Sheffield Where You Can Click On The Link To Listen To Lesley Remembering The Events That Day.
Only 11 Pits In The Country Were Working
By 15th April 1984, only 11 pits in the country were working, all North Nottinghamshire. Of course the pits were run on limited manpower as some men withdrew their labour and joined the strike.
Efforts to get the men back to work in North Derbyshire in May were made by fortified buses with metal grilles being used to transport the few men who worked. These buses were frequently attacked and stoned, but never failed to get through.
Miners from 7 Nottinghamshire pits crossed official picket lines manned by their workmates as Annesley, Bentinck, Clipstone (shown), Mansfield, Newstead, Sherwood, and Sutton collieries re-opened after the Easter holiday. It was the first time in the dispute that Nottinghamshire strikers had carried ‘Official NUM Picket’ placards.
Demand For A National Vote
Thousands marched on Berry Hill to demand a national ballot. A minority of strikers blockaded the NUM Area Office at Berry Hill on 1st May 1984. Around 6,000 men listened to speeches from NUM President Ray Chadburn, and Secretary Henry Richardson urging them to strike. However Roy Lynk Finance Secretary disagreed, and stated that the men could not be brought out on strike without a national ballot and whatever that decision was he would support it. Colin Bottomore NUM Secretary Bentinck one of the anti-strike leaders, said that they would carry on working until a ballot was taken. (Bottomore married my wife’s sister Margaret, later leaving the industry to run a boarding house on the South Coast).
10,000 Pickets At Harworth
Harworth colliery Nottinghamshire being almost on the border with South Yorkshire was a constant source of picketing and on one occasion there was an estimated 10,000 in attendance on 3rd May, but only 21 arrests. Thousands of police were sent to the region from all over the country.
Scargill organised a Demonstration in Mansfield on 14th May and over 12,000 attended. Over 1,000 police were there and 87 arrests were made, 57 were charged with offences and 88 policemen were injured. There were 300 pickets again at Ollerton on 15th May.
Work carried on at the collieries that were open but obviously on lower output due to some men withdrawing their labour and joining the strike. However to supplement the energy required foreign coal and smokeless fuels were being imported into the country. Couldn’t the strikers see that?
Orgreave Coking Plant
At the Orgreave coking plant in Yorkshire pickets turned up in force to try to stop coke destined for Scunthorpe British Steel works being transported by lorry. The trains had stopped running. Around 1,000 pickets tried to stop the 35 lorries but failed.