Remembering the Miners' strike

Arthur Scargill Credit: PA Wire

Today marks 30 years since the start of the national Miners' strike. Walkouts began on the 5th March 1984 in protest over proposed pit closures and on 12th March 1984, Arthur Scargill, president of the National Union of Mineworkers, declared that all members of the NUM should go out on strike.

The South Wales coalfield contained some of the staunchest supporters of industrial action. At the start of the strike, 99.6 per cent of the 21,500 workers joined the action. This reduced to 93 per cent by the end. No other area retained such a level of support.

With so many men not working in an area which was almost single-industry, South Wales suffered hugely with deprivation and community breakdown. Some areas broke down irretrievably, with the effects visible for years afterwards in ghost villages in the Valleys.

The dispute was long and bitter. One incident in Wales that may have accelerated the end of the strike was killing of David Wilkie. He was a taxi driver who was driving a working miner, David Williams, to the Merthyr Vale mine with a police escort on 30 November 1984.

Two striking miners dropped a 21kg concrete block from a bridge onto the car, killing Wilkie instantly.

The official end of the strike came on 3 March 1985, when a vote was passed to return to work even without a new agreement with management. The pits closed rapidly over the next few years, and in 1994 the industry was finally privatised.

In 1995 miners famously bought the Tower Colliery in the Cynon Valley, which opened in 1805, to keep it as a going concern. It became Wales' only working coal mine, and the oldest continuously worked deep-coal mine in the UK.

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Remembering the Miners' Strike 30 years on

Today marks 30 years since the start of the national Miners' Strike. Walkouts began on the 5th March 1984 in protest over proposed pit closures. On 12th March 1984, NUM president Arthur Scargill declared that all members should strike.