My place on the fence during the dispute was always a bit precarious and given that I know, on this subject at least, memories are long and hard fought opinions rarely die, it probably still is.
30 years on my views have not altered, if anything I am more inclined to believe that powers far above the common man and the ever turning wheels of change cannot be fought with any realistic ideas that you might win. The world has changed too much for anyone to try and re- enact the peasant’s revolt, though in 1984 I’m sure there were those who thought they could.
One of the biggest changes I have witnessed since 1984, apart from the decimation of an industry, is the decline in union membership. It’s highly unlikely that the likes of the all- powerful NUM will ever be seen again.
Still, as successive governments continue to bicker over policy and the working man sees his rights diminish in the face of economic forces, maybe it’s easier to believe Trade Unions still have an important role to play in society. Though this is not the 1970’s and we are no longer naïve, a million voices shouting still need a few with the clarity and resonance to be heard.
The world moves on and change happens whether we like it or not.
The people of the mining communities have carried on with their lives, rebuilding a future from the redeveloped remains. Enough years have passed to almost forget the lost Heritage, but they are forever reminded by half buried pit wheels bearing the name of the pits they used to belong to and coal wagons filled with summer flowers decorating the road sides. In many respects the cloistered, protective attitude of community hasn’t gone, though many of the houses they lived in are being demolished. Nottinghamshire miners’ will always be Nottinghamshire miners, at least on my neck of the woods and while my generation is still alive.
In the early 1990’s I decided to start my own business as a bookkeeper. I had two young children and liked the idea of being my own boss. The local council was offering start up schemes and there was no shortage of ex miners looking for a new future and felt the same. One day I found myself addressing a hall full of stern faced men, arms crossed, expressions set, trying to convince them the merits of good bookkeeping and that I was the woman for the job. Then, suddenly, without a by your leave one of them pointed a finger at me and spoke loudly enough to shake the rafters and my nerves.“What makes you think that you can come here and tell us what to do?”
Suddenly I was back in my mother in laws living room all those years ago. I was there, but I seriously wished I wasn’t.
Wrtiten 2013 (revised June 2017)
All Rights Reserved
With special thanks to : Warsop Vale Local History Society http://www.warsopvale.org/index.htm for allowing the use of images from their gallery.
Additional images courtesy of : Martin Shakeshaft http://www.martinshakeshaft.com/
Pleasley village photo By Dave Bevis, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14274129
https://books.google.co.uk The Enemy Within: The Secret War Against the Miners By Seumas Milne