MINERS’ STRIKE 40TH ANNIVERSARY: Workers who crossed pickets had cars smashed and homes vandalised

Miners who broke the 1984 miners’ strike and went to work during the miners were targeted by their colleagues and shunned by their communities.
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The National Coal Mining museum has put together a series of accounts from people involved in the 1984-85 miners’ strike at its 40th anniversary.

Among the accounts given are from those who did not take part in the strikes or went back to work before the industrial action was over.

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Those miners were often referred to as “scabs” by striking miners and ostracised from their communities.

Miners Strike October 4, 1984, police and pickets at Woolley CollieryMiners Strike October 4, 1984, police and pickets at Woolley Colliery
Miners Strike October 4, 1984, police and pickets at Woolley Colliery

To the workers on strike it was a betrayal of the movement.

Many of those who did work told their stories anonymously to the museum.

NCM chief executive Lynn Dunning said: “In our exhibition we are presenting experiences not expressing opinions.

"It is about how individual people experienced the strike.

"A worker who crossed a picket talks about how they literally smashed his car to bits. His windscreen was smashed. The man was 60. He was so broken he never went back to work after that.

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“Another who didn't strike kept a pickaxe handle by his bed, such was his fear. Others carried weapons in their car because they were scared.”

The NCM saw pictures of people's homes dubbed with graffiti and others boarded up for protection.

Lynn said: “People went back for many reasons. People struggled with their mortgages.

"No one expected the strike to go on as long as it did. People were facing real hardship and people felt it wasn't going anywhere.

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"There were different reasons behind it. People felt pressure from families and friends to continue to strike.”

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Anne Bradley, the lead curator at the museum, said the work was there to encourage people to ask questions.

She said: “People were making decisions they didn't know would still be haunting them today.

“Would you have gone back early? These are the questions we are asking visitors.

“What would you be prepared to break the strike for?”

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She said the issue divided the majority of miners in Yorkshire from those in Nottinghamshire, who largely worked.

"We have had some people come forward to talk but not a lot, and in itself that tells a story.”