top of page
Search
  • Writer's pictureSam

Honouring History: Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Miners' Strike

In Coppull near Chorley, history echoed loudly as the Chorley & District Trades Union Council hosted an event to mark the 40th anniversary of the Miners' Strike. Set against the backdrop of Coppull, where the spirit of solidarity thrived, this event was a poignant journey back in time, rekindling memories and celebrating the resilience of those who stood united in the face of adversity.


The Miners' Strike of 1984-85 remains etched in the collective memory of communities across the UK, embodying the struggle for workers' rights and the fight against economic injustice. In Coppull and Chorley, around 100 miners took to the picket lines, their determination unwavering as they challenged the closures of Parkside Colliery in Newton le Willows, Sutton Manor, Golborne, Bold Collieries, and the Ellerbeck open cast coal site near Chorley.


The Chorley and Coppull Miners’ Support Committee emerged as a beacon of hope, providing essential support to striking miners and their families, epitomizing the power of community solidarity during challenging times.


At this event on Saturday the 27th of April, it was moving to hear the community reflection, storytelling, and honoring the legacy of the Miners' Strike. This event was organised by Dave Beale and speakers, included John Harris, renowned photographer capturing the essence of the strike, alongside Betty Cook and Heather Wood, leading activists in the National Women Against Pit Closures movement, offering insights and firsthand accounts, transporting attendees back to a pivotal moment in history.


Betty Cook along with Anne Scargill, were instrumental figures in the Women Against Pit Closures movement, embody the spirit of resilience and determination that defined the era. Their unwavering commitment to the cause, as depicted in their book (Anne and Betty: United by the Struggle) serves as a testament to the enduring impact of grassroots activism and the strength found in solidarity.


The event served not only as a commemoration but also as a reminder of the ongoing struggle for workers' rights and social justice. The echoes of the past resonate with contemporary relevance, urging us to remain vigilant in defending the rights and dignity of all workers.


On a personal note, it was very moving to see the Miners Wives Banners (as photoed) which were actually handmade by my Nan (Joan Beale) made in 1980s and 90s -


"Persuaded by Militant’s Marxist ideas and programme, Joan joined Chorley Labour Party in 1974 and was politically active for the next 12 years at both branch and constituency levels.


In the early 1980s she became secretary of Chorley Labour Party Women’s Section, working closely with Susannah Jackson (Equal Opportunities Commission staff member), Virginia Jones (NHS trade unionist and today a leading activist in the Chorley Hospital Campaign) and Rita Aspinall (well-known ‘Miners’ Wives’ organiser in Lancashire). Together they built a fighting organisation of working class women in central Lancashire.


Joan often spoke at local and regional Labour Party meetings on behalf of the local Women’s Section, which played a decisive role in setting up the Chorley and Coppull Miners’ Support Committee in May 1984. The latter’s main aim was to supply striking miners’ families with weekly food parcels throughout the many arduous months of the 1984-85 national miners’ strike. It raised £26,000 for this purpose in 12 months.


During this time, Joan with others strongly supported the newly-founded Chorley Well Women’s Centre – still going strong today and now known simply as the Chorley Women’s Centre.


She also put her excellent dress-making skills to use by making some impressive labour movement banners. These included: Chorley Constituency Labour Party, Chorley Labour Party Women’s Section, Chorley and Coppull Miners’ Support Committee, Chorley and Coppull Miners’ Wives, and the Trades Union Councils of Chorley, Preston and Lancaster.


After the 1984-85 miners’ strike an attempt was made to expel Militant supporters from Chorley Labour Party, including Joan. Although it failed, any further effective involvement in the Labour Party by Joan or the others was no longer possible – and disgracefully Chorley Labour Party disbanded its women’s section not long after this!


Although Joan’s political activity covered a relatively short period of her life, she nevertheless had a significant impact on the labour movement in this part of Lancashire in arguing for a genuinely democratic socialist society, in supporting striking miners and their families, and in campaigning for the rights especially of working class women. Such important contributions of the kind Joan made, and in difficult and demanding circumstances, must not be forgotten". - Obituary by Nikki Wilson (Daughter).



Miners protest with Banner

Sam infant of miners wives banner


5 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page