A share of a pensioner’s Christmas ‘Bonus’

a collaborative project by Esther Johnson and Debbie Ballin

5 December 2015 – 18 January 2016
People’s History Museum, Accumulator Gallery, Left Bank, Spinningfields, Manchester M3 3ER
Monday–Sunday, 10:00–17:00

“We got presents that were donated….
I got a little cheap plastic watch and a coat that my auntie had made,
but I just didn’t even care ’cos I was having so much fun.”

– Sam, Miner’s Daughter aged 15 during the strike

It’s Christmas 1984. Sam, Gayle, Jayne and Craig are the children of striking miners.
This is the story of how acts of generosity by total strangers made Christmas possible for them that year, and what it was like for them to grow up in the shadow of the Miners’ Strike.

A share of a pensioner’s Christmas ‘Bonus’ bears witness to their untold stories, and includes artefacts from the People’s History Museum archive, and a newly commissioned audiovisual project by artist and film-maker Esther Johnson, and film-maker and writer Debbie Ballin.

This exhibition is part of a wider research project by Johnson and Ballin titled Echoes of Protest, investigating the legacy of being involved in significant protest movements from a child’s perspective. The project aims to understand the role protest can play in the lives of children, and to explore its aftermath.

Further information on the project can be found at:
This project is supported by the Art & Design Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University and People’s History Museum, Manchester.

Exhibition Opening Event · BOOK HERE
Salford Brass will play a live performance of traditional colliery band music, Miners’ hymns and Christmas carols.

Date & Time  06.12.15, 12:00–15:30
Performance Time  13:00–14.00
Address  People’s History Museum, Accumulator Gallery, Left Bank, Spinningfields, Manchester M3 3ER

Gary Clarke Company – COAL Short Trailer

Marking the 30th anniversary of the end of the 1984/5 British miners’ strike, award winning choreographer Gary Clarke proudly presents COAL, a riveting dance theatre show which takes an nostalgic look at the hard hitting realities of life at the coal face. Bringing together Clarke’s striking physical language performed by a company of 7 high class dancers, a community cast of women and a live colliery brass band, COAL is an emotional, moving and ever-relevant exploration of community, solidarity and survival.

OTJC help needed with student dissertation

Gavin Hawkton, a student from Glasgow University, has been in touch to request that OTJC supporters complete a questionnaire about the miners’ strike, which can be downloaded below, along with a consent form.

Please give this request your serious consideration and if you are willing take part, return your forms to Gavin.

Gavin has made a huge effort to ask for and read books on the strike.  Chris Peace and I hope to meet him in Glasgow on 28/11 when we are in Scotland for 3 meetings the campaign has organised for us by a Labour councillor.  Gavin is also meeting with Neil Findlay, Labour Lothians MSP later this month.

Consent Form


A powerful personal testimony

The Diary of a Striking Miner reaches its conclusion

“A true and honest account of the strike.” That’s how Bruce Wilson describes his book Life On The Front Line: In The 1984-85 Miners’ Strike.

Bruce kept a diary, a personal record of day-to-day events during the bitter twelve-month struggle. It is a vivid document which takes you right into the centre of the lives of a group of flying pickets, mainly from Silverwood Colliery, during the strike. The diary is essential reading for anyone who wants insights into the courage, motivation and determination of a group of the National Union of Mineworkers front-line troops in the battle to save jobs, pits and communities.

There are also vivid and disturbing accounts of the police brutality the pickets encountered. Bruce
describes one incident at the infamous Battle of Orgreave on 18 June 1984 as he is running away and comes across an older miner, in his fifties, on his knees and out of breath.

‘It was a hot day and he had an old long gaberdine coat on. Bruce writes, I couldn’t leave him there. I said, “Come on ow’d lad they’re not taking any prisoners today.” To this day I don’t know how he managed to get up and run, but he did.’

The diary also has the photographs, press cuttings and other material Bruce Wilson kept from that time.

The diary was originally published as the book ‘Yorkshire’s Flying Pickets’ by Pen & Sword Books, Barnsley. So that the book can reach out to a wider audience the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC) have serialised the diary and the twelfth and final instalment will be published on the OTJC website on Saturday 21st November.

Joe Rollin, OTJC chair, said, “There are very few books that are published which are as authentic as this diary. This unique piece of work, written by a striking miner, captures the humour, the hardship and the comradeship of the striking miners. We are very grateful to Pen & Sword for allowing us to publish it.”

You can read Bruce’s diary here.

With Banners Held High – Film Information

Film Synopsis
With Banners Held High
is a short documentary film (31 minutes) that celebrates the resilience and humour of miners and women who went through the 1984/5 Miners’ Strike.

The yearlong strike was one of the most defining industrial actions in recent history. A Conservative government who labelled the miners ‘the enemy within’ planned to undermine the trade union movement and cripple an industry, decimating not only the collieries but the whole infrastructure and culture of mining communities.

The solidarity of striking miners and the emergence of a new feminist movement ‘Women Against Pit Closures’ inspired a humour and camaraderie which is apparent still today. This strength of spirit and resilience now forms an important place in the living heritage of mining communities some 30 years after the Strike.

In a series of personal interviews with ordinary people from the Strike and with the use of music, photographs, and archive material, With Banners Held High is an insightful, moving film that brings the experience of the Strike into perspective 30 years on.

Producer/ Director/Editor
Judi Alston is a film maker with 26 years of experience of documentary film making and extensive track record as a director and producer, camera person and editor for a wide range of work from television, arts, charities and public sector commissions. Judi has travelled widely throughout the world in her work as a film maker and has a long and successful track record of working within mining communities producing films and facilitating arts projects. Judi Alston is the Creative Director and CEO of One to One Development Trust.

Camera Person
Dean Hinchliffe is a DOP, sound recordist and editor on many short independent films and recently on a horror feature film with a crew and cast of over 500. Dean has worked with Judi Alston and One to One Development Trust on nearly 100 film projects over the last 15 years.

One to One Development Trust
One to One Development Trust, an arts based charity in Wakefield, (formally One to One Productions Ltd) has a long and successful track record of producing high quality documentary films and multimedia projects with a wide range of participants/communities in Yorkshire and beyond.

With Banners Held High
has been funded through donations from individuals and trade unions. The project has been supported by Campaign for Press and Broadcast Freedom, The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign and the National Union of Mineworkers

Contact details
Judi Alston
One to One Development Trust, The Art House, Drury Lane, Wakefield, UK
Tel: 00 (44) 7901 686142
Email: info@onetoonedevelopment.org

OTO003 One to One Logo Final-3

Download the flyer for our Barnsley Benefit Night: WBHH and Undermined Nov 15

Orgreave Truth & Justice in Scotland

The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign are to hold three events in Scotland later this month. Speakers will include Barbara Jackson (Secretary OTJC) and Johann Lamont MSP, as well as showing a film.

GLASGOW NOVEMBER 28TH 1.00 pm (doors open) STUC 333 Woodlands Rd Glasgow

For more details, see the individual flyers below.

Edinburgh_A4_1 Glasgow_A4_1 Mayfield_A4_1


Saturday 23 January
Barnsley Civic, 4pm, £10

The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign would like to thank local actor Danny Mellor for offering to perform his play ‘Undermined’ about the miners’ strike as a fund raiser for OTJC. We would like as many supporters as possible to come along to Barnsley Civic to be part of the experience of an interesting an thought provoking piece of entertainment and to show their continuing support for our aim…

“The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign seeking truth and justice for all miners victimised by the police at The Orgreave Coking Plant South Yorkshire, June 1984. Orgreave is part of the pattern of cover ups and lies by the police from the many different forces, which are now being exposed.

We call for a public inquiry to take place as soon as possible into the policing and subsequent statements recorded by the police at the time.

We want everyone who seeks truth and wants justice, to support us in our campaign”

A play performed by Danny Mellor

Inspired by the accounts of miners who lived through the strike, Undermined depicts a year where friendships were strengthened and communities came together. Experience the events through the eyes of young miner Dale, as he takes you through his personal story inviting you into the action. This oneman show explores the humour and struggles of the miners’ strike through energetic and gripping storytelling. Danny Mellor presents a youthful and contemporary approach to one of Britain’s most controversial disputes.

With banners held high
A film by Judi Alston

This documentary explores the resilience of miners and Women Against Pit Closures through their sense of humour, camaraderie and community spirit in the 1984/5 miners’ strike.

The ability to laugh and share funny moments or observations in times of adversity was important during the year-long strike. Their stories capture a legacy of contemporary history and offer a profound insight into the culture and heritage of the former coalfield communities.

Judi Alston, of One to One Development Trust, directed the film, which was commissioned for the ‘With Banners Held High’ event held in Wakefield on Saturday 7 March 2015.


Doncaster pithead structures saved from demolition at eleventh hour

This article by Sarah Marshall originally appeared in The Star

David Douglass, of the Hatfield Main Colliery Committee Heritage Association pictured speaking during the rally. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP Colliery MC 2

David Douglass, of the Hatfield Main Colliery Committee Heritage Association pictured speaking during the rally. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP Colliery MC 2

Campaigners battling to preserve a piece of Doncaster’s mining history have won their fight with less than 48 hours to spare – after Historic England granted two pithead structures protected status.

The pithead structure at Hatfield Colliery – one of the last three deep coal mines in the UK – was due to be demolished tomorrow (Thursday, November 12) by Doncaster council in order to prevent ‘serious health and safety incidents’.

However, this decision has now been overturned after an application to Historic England calling for the pithead structure to be given grade 2 protected status was awarded yesterday – with less than 48 hours to spare.

The application was submitted by members of the Save Hatfield Main Headgear campaign group, comprised of former miners’ and residents, who launched the campaign after the pit was closed a year ahead of schedule in July.
Ex-miner and campaigner Mick Lanaghan called Historic England’s decision to award the headgear at Hatfield colliery protected status, and add it to the list of protected buildings of architectural and historical and interest a victory for the group, but added that they still had far to go.

“It’s helping to preserve our legacy,” said Mr Lanaghan, of West Avenue, Stainforth.

The 56-year-old, who worked at Hatfield Main for over a decade, added: “We’re all still in a state of shock. We had resigned ourselves to the fact that we would lose one of them, but we didn’t expect this.

“It’s a piece of Doncaster’s mining history and you can see it from the road, from the rail network and even from the air – it’s our Angel of the North.

“You speak to ex-miners who say that when you used to come home, after being away, you would know you were home when you would see the headgear and they miss that when it’s been knocked down – but we’ve been able to save ours. “It’s important to us as a community. But this is just the beginning – now we have to find funding streams for it.

“But we’d like to be confident that this is something we can achieve.”

The closure of the colliery in the summer marked the end of an era for the coal industry and resulted in the loss of 430 jobs.

Existing landowners, the Crown Estate, having no responsibility for the site for legal reasons and with no other body addressing this issue, the council say they have been left with no option but to ‘step in’.

Doncaster Council’s Chief Executive Jo Miller has also criticised Historic England’s decision.

She told the Free Press: “We are all immensely proud of Doncaster’s coal mining heritage, but the fact is that these dilapidated head stocks are an accident waiting to happen.

“The decision taken by Historic England appears to have been taken with no thought to a funding plan for a decaying structure.

“This will put the public at risk in the short term and could cost Doncaster taxpayers millions over the coming years.

“Local people should not be forced to cover the cost for a site which is privately owned.

“We are urgently meeting with Historic England to secure the site and make it safe.”

The costs of making the existing site safe and secure without demolition work are estimated to be £1 million with significant on-going maintenance and security costs every year.

Future of coal in the UK looks increasingly bleak, say industry leaders

This article by Peter McCusker originally appeared in Chronicle Live


The UK’s last deep mine is set to close and coal fired power stations are being phased out, but industry warnings over power shortages

A man working in a coal min 17th July 1935
A man working in a coal mine 17th July 1935

With the country’s last deep mine shutting next month the future of the UK coal industry looks increasingly bleak. Peter McCusker reports.

Speculation is mounting that the Government will announce plans to close all of the country’s coal-fired power stations by 2023.

In the run up to the Paris climate talks later this month, The Times recently reported the Government will turbo-charge its green credentials by announcing the closure of the nation’s remaining coal-fired electricity generation fleet.

This will be some show of intent with coal still accounting for 30% of the UK’s baseload capacity, but even if such an announcement is not forthcoming the direction of travel for the UK coal industry is fairly bleak and climate activists are sensing blood.

They recently shut down operations at the country’s largest opencasts in Northumberland in protest at its contribution to climate change.

John Campbell is vice chairman of coal producers body Coalpro, which represents companies such as the Durham-based duo of Hargreaves Surface Mining and the Banks Group.

He said: “Our industry is in rapid decline and the last deep mine in the country will close next month.”

Just yards from the A1 at Blagdon the enormous opencast site at Shotton

Just yards from the A1 at Blagdon the enormous opencast site at Shotton

Mr Campbell said coal’s decline is similar to that of another, once great, industrial workhorse – the steel industry; which last month saw the Redcar plant on Teesside succumb to economic and political headwinds with the loss over 1,200 jobs.

Both are being ‘decimated’ by international prices and UK Government policies , he said.

“The carbon tax (a levy on electricity generators for the amount of carbon dioxide they emit) has caused serious damage to the industry. There is no support from the Government and no incentive to plan for, or produce, UK coal.

“Fossil fuel generation is not making money and not being replaced. This is a very dangerous position to be in,” he said.

While the closure of the last UK pit in North Yorkshire will mean the end of deep-mined coal, the country still has 16 drift mines producing.

The largest of these is the Shotton surface mine run by Banks Group which produces 80,000 tones a month.

Banks and Hargreaves, based within a few miles of each other near Durham City, continue to carry the baton for the English coal industry.

Hargreaves currently operates or manages nine surface mines across the UK, and both it and Banks continue to lodge plans for new opencast mines in the region.

The UK used around 50m tonnes last year – the lowest amount in over 150 years – with around 44m of this coming from imports and over 90% of total coal used going to power stations.

The UK coal-fired power stations supplied over 30% of the UK’s electricity needs in 2014, but new European emission regulations which come in to force next year, on top of the UK carbon tax, known as the Carbon Price Floor, are forcing their early closure.

Three of Britain’s 10 coal stations; Longannet, in Fife, Eggborough, in North Yorkshire, and Ferrybridge, in West Yorkshire will shut next March.

Coal is effectively bearing the brunt of the decarbonisation drive as the quantity of carbon dioxide its emits at around 850g/kWh, compares poorly to gas, at around 350g/kWh.

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

But coal’s backers argue that the technology is now emerging – including carbon capture and storage (CCS) – that will significantly cut CO2 and other harmful emissions.

While the UK has signalled its intent to row back on coal, a path now being followed by the US with President Obama’s proposed clean air act, the opposite is true elsewhere.

Both Poland and the Ukraine show little signs of reducing their reliance on coal and following its decision to close its nuclear fleet, Germany is building new coal plants.

Germany is also planning to soften its 2020 CO2 reduction targets after operator RWE warned enforcement of the levy would lead to immediate shut down of its coal-powered plants.

Coal has been the fuel that has transformed many developing economies including India and China and new research suggests 500 new coal-fired plants will be built in Asia, alone, this year.

In fact one climate experts believes clean coal plants should qualify for climate finance.

Yvo de Boer, the former United Nations climate change secretariat chief, backs moves that would see developing countries receive financial support for new highly-efficient coal plants.

Many developing nations say they need coal as the cheap energy source to drive economic growth and alleviate poverty.

China’s recently released climate plan signifies that coal will continue to make the largest contribution to electricity generation through to 2040, with the country committing to high efficiency, low emission coal-plants and CCS.

China aims to reduce all emissions from coal-fired power and other industrial uses. This is not just CO2 emissions but also sulphur and nitrogen dioxide and other particulates.


 A coal fired plant generating power

A coal fired plant generating power

Despite coming from the US and Russia imported coal is still cheaper than that produced in the UK, some home-produced coal also has higher emissions levels.

A global glut of coal, due in part to the US shale gas revolution, has forced prices down from $134 a tonne in 2011 to $49 a tonne last week.

Mr Campbell said: “The coal in many overseas markets is easier to access and in thicker seams, it’s not just about labour costs.”

While there are some two dozen approved planning applications for new drift mines in England, Wales and Scotland, some are questioning whether these will progress.

One industry source said new surface mines, and the jobs and investment that go with them, could be at ‘substantial risk from UK energy policy uncertainty and current low international coal prices’.

Mr Campbell condemned the closure of the UK coal fleet and highlighted the capacity crisis last week when the National Grid had to ask 40 factories and offices to reduce power consumption due to network capacity constraints – a situation he described as ‘bizarre’.

“Coalpro continues to call for a sensible transition to the low carbon future that puts much more emphasis on security of supply, affordability and industrial competitiveness, and invests in the potential for clean fossil fuel technologies such as carbon capture and storage to form part of a balanced mix of energy sources.”

In December, UK Coal will close the Kellingley Colliery, near Pontefract, this follows the closure of the penultimate UK deep mine at Thoresby Colliery, Mansfield, in July.

This will bring the curtain down on an industry which once employed one million people including 300,000 in the North East.

A Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) spokesperson said: “Fossil fuels have a role to play in meeting our energy demands, but coal as a percentage of total energy generation is falling.

“We are focused on stimulating investment in secure, lower carbon alternatives whilst keeping bills as low as possible for both hardworking families and businesses.”

DECC went on to say that the Prime Minister David Cameron has previously made it clear that existing coal-fired power plants in the UK ‘should be phased out in the next 10 or 15 years’.

 Prime Minister David Cameron

Prime Minister David Cameron

One man who worked in the last North East deep mine at Ellington is Ian Lavery.

He is now the MP for the constituency of Wansbeck in south east Northumberland in which the former Ellington pit, which closed in 2005, was located.

He pulls no punches: “The industry is being written off by the Conservatives, but there is no rational behind it other than political ideology.

“In 2015 we are paying factories and offices to stop using electricity whilst closing down the coal industry, which provides 50% of our electricity on some days.

“While we have got to decarbonise and hit our emissions targets they way we are currently doing it is harming our energy security.

“China, Russia, France and Norway are all supplying us with energy we have already got. The coal industry is closing but we haven’t done enough to burn coal cleanly using CCS.”

Mr Lavery supports Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s call to re-open some deep-mines and use coal ‘cleanly’.

But he believes there is a political element behind the Government’s stance and invoked the legacy of the miners’ strike 30 years ago.

“This is what the Conservatives have wanted; to close down the mines, and it goes back to the legacy of Thatcher and her previous efforts to destroy the coal industry.”

Coal was the fuel supply that powered the industrial revolution, the expansion of the British Empire and closer to home shaped the industrial, economic and social fabric of the North East.

But without a major change in Government policy future generations will learn about it solely from the history books.