National Coal Mining Museum Marks 40th Anniversary with Exhibition on the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike

National Coal Mining Museum Marks 40th Anniversary with Exhibition on the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike

As the 40th anniversary of the Miners’ Strike approaches, today’s date brings back poignant memories of the bitter year-long conflict that began on March 6, 1984.

Thousands of workers, faced with job losses due to pit closures, initiated the strike that left lasting scars on communities.

Communities Divided: Nottinghamshire’s Central Role

The epicenter of the anti-strike movement was Nottinghamshire, where a significant number of miners chose to continue working.

This decision led to deep divisions within towns and villages, with the anti-strike movement gaining momentum.

The Hub of the Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM)

Nottinghamshire became the stronghold of the Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM), a faction that split from the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) led by Arthur Scargill.

The absence of a national ballot meant that those who joined the strike were ineligible for benefits, relying on savings and handouts.

Impact on Communities: Struggles and Divisions

During the strike, communities experienced intense turmoil. In Ollerton, clashes led to the tragic death of 24-year-old David Jones.

Families became divided, and those who continued working faced ostracization in their neighborhoods.

Government’s Strategy and the Role of Nottinghamshire

While coal production dropped significantly during the strike, government stockpiles allowed power plants to continue operating.

Still-working pits in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, and other locations played a crucial role in maintaining power generation.

The ‘Dirty Thirty’ and Community Dynamics

In Leicestershire, a group of miners who chose to strike became known as the ‘Dirty Thirty.’

Historian Stuart Warburton highlights the unique dynamics of this strike, which created divisions between neighbors, friends, and even families.

Exhibition at the National Coal Mining Museum

The 40th anniversary is commemorated with an exhibition, “84/85 – The Longest Year,” at the National Coal Mining Museum in Wakefield.

The exhibition aims to present diverse perspectives, including stories of strikers, those who continued working, and the impact on families.

Voices from Both Sides: Creating Empathy

Curator Anne Bradley emphasizes the importance of providing a platform for diverse opinions and experiences.

The exhibition showcases first-hand accounts collected through interviews, revealing that old enmities persist even after four decades.

Encouraging Reflection and Understanding

The National Coal Mining Museum hopes the exhibition will encourage empathy and understanding.

By sharing stories of decisions made during the strike, the museum aims to prompt visitors to consider different points of view and appreciate the lasting impact on individuals and communities.

Opportunity for Reflection: 84/85 – The Longest Year Exhibition

Opening on March 6, the exhibition invites visitors to explore the multifaceted narratives of the Miners’ Strike.

With free entry, the National Coal Mining Museum provides an opportunity to delve into the complexities of a pivotal moment in history.

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