PART FOUR: May 1984

LIFE ON THE FRONT LINE
In the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike

Bruce Wilson

PART FOUR: May 1984
Roadblocks. Striking Nottinghamshire Miners’ and Orgreave

Along with other ‘Yorkshire flying pickets’ me and my team would venture into Nottinghamshire and beyond ‘for a pound a day picket money’. Exercising our right to travel and demonstrate in what we thought was a free country. From first- hand experience and witnessing many things. All I can say is that to me, Nottinghamshire is like a county under military occupation, but the occupying forces wear black.

My forefathers fought and died in two world wars for what I have today. I have their medals to prove it. NO ONE IS TELLING ME WHERE I CAN AND CANNOT GO IN MY OWN COUNTRY. THIS IS ENGLAND!

People do not realize what is happening. The things people take for granted like just wanting to go out of their house without the threat of arrest, or visit family and friends just across the border in Notts. Maybe going on a fishing trip and getting turned back with comments from the police like, “piss off back to Yorkshire”. Being treated like a criminal just because you were a striking miner.

Then we come to the little Nottinghamshire mining villages. What went on in these mining communities beggars belief. The Nottinghamshire striking miners are in a small minority, but they stand up for their beliefs and supported the cause. And did they suffer for it!

Scab Notts miners’ throwing coins and loose change at them on the picket line as they were coming out of the mine. The scabs shouting at striking Nott’s miners’ wives and kids, “eat fucking grass” and the police laughing. People do not know what is at stake here.

YORKSHIRE NUM, NO SURRENDER!

 

FLYING PICKETS PETROL MONEY

During the strike the car owner/driver received petrol money to travel up and down the country picketing collieries and various other venues. Every flying picket travelling in the car received a pound a day picket money. On occasions, flying pickets did a double shift. For example; ‘flying’ into Nottinghamshire then ‘falling back to Orgreave’. Especially during May and June 1984. For this striking miners received double pay, two pounds.

A list of Collieries below which Bruce compiled in April 1984. Petrol money for the car driver setting off from the Silverwood Miners Welfare near Rotherham.

Orgreave – Two pounds
Harworth Colliery, Notts – Four pounds
Creswell & Bolsover Collieries, North Derbyshire – Six pounds
Linby Colliery, South Notts – Nine pounds
Newstead Colliery, Notts – Eight pounds
Bentinck Colliery, Notts – Eight pounds
Cotgrave Colliery, Notts – Ten pounds
Babbington Colliery, Notts – Ten pounds
Cadley Hill Colliery, South Midlands – Ten pounds
Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire [picketing Steelworks & Docks] – Ten pounds
Pye Hill Colliery, Notts – Eight pounds

 

PICKET POLICE PERSONALITIES

A list of picket police personalities compiled at the end of April 1984. Originally written as a bit of fun, but a truthful description of police manning the picket lines from a miner’s point of view. Especially by Bruce Wilson, who witnessed the police behaviour first hand. Worse was yet to come! This list was compiled in April. Just two months into the strike.

Merseyside police – Alright
South Wales police – Alright
Nottinghamshire – B*****ds
Midlands – B*****ds
Surrey police – Half and half
Berkshire – B*****ds
Thames Valley – B*****ds
London Met – Double B***ds
Devon – B*****ds
Manchester – B*****ds
Cornwall – B*****ds
South Yorkshire – B*****ds [1]
Essex – B*****ds
Hertfordshire – B*****ds
West Midlands [Birmingham] – B*****ds

[1] South Yorkshire police like to keep a low profile. Bastards when they get you on your own.

 

Tuesday, 1st May 1984. The Mansfield demonstration.

Destination today, Bevercotes colliery Nottinghamshire first, then make our way to Mansfield where there’s an anti -strike demonstration by working Notts miners. It was stressed to us when receiving our orders to, “picket peacefully”.

As hard as we tried we could not get through, I have never come across as many roadblocks as we have today. The police have got Nottinghamshire well and truly sealed up. We managed to get to Pleasley Miners’ Welfare Centre, a couple of miles from Mansfield town Centre. The welfare was built high up on a mound and away from the road, next to a slight hill. I parked on a back street, me and the lads made our way to the miners welfare, it was absolutely packed with flying pickets and there were cups of tea and sandwiches all round, a lot of pickets were playing cards or dominoes to pass time on.

We waited till around 7.30am when we had to vacate the club to make way for Derbyshire pickets who were arriving, it was their turn for a cuppa. When we got outside the miners welfare we got a right shock, bleeding hell! Police, hundreds of them, they came from nowhere, they had blocked the bottom end of the road off where it dips. We all set of marching down the road towards them but they wouldn’t let us through. We tried charging at them, then they got their truncheons out and charged us!

We split into two groups trying to out manoeuvre and get round them. No chance, we had no leadership. The large group of pickets I was with was forced by truncheon wielding police up a dirt track, a narrow lane, they walked behind us truncheons out and anybody that stopped or fell back was truncheoned to the ground and arrested. They forced marched us back up the lane to the miners welfare centre, we got some right hammer. The police wanted us to, “run back to the Welfare Centre.” But although a lot of miners got some truncheon, mainly hit on the back of the head, “WE DID NOT RUN!”

There was a film crew there and they were told in no uncertain terms to, “switch their cameras off” and not film the actions of the police. “We cannot put this on telly now can we!” What bastards.

We got back to the Welfare Centre and stood on the grass in front of the club away from the road, we were completely surrounded by police, it was like General Custer’s last stand. We decided to get on a bus into Mansfield, there was a bus stop 20 yards from where we were stood. So as soon a big green double decker pulled up we got on it, we went downstairs right at the back of the bus, loads of pickets went upstairs. Just when we thought we were safe and on our way, several policemen got on the bus and turfed us of. If we didn’t get off it was a police cell, we didn’t even get our bus fares refunded. The poor bus driver didn’t know what to do. A copper stood next to him and told him not to move till they had cleared the bus of striking miners, we ended up in the same place again on the grass frontage.

 

Bruce Wilson and Silverwood men outside the Miners’ Welfare.
Bruce Wilson and Silverwood men outside the Miners’ Welfare.

 

The police split ranks to let us through. This is strange, is it really England 1984? Yet again we are penned in and surrounded by dozens of police. We watched as another bus pulled up at the bus stop, the police went on and turfed a load of pickets that had got on it further up the road out of sight, but the police knew what miners were up to now and every bus was stopped and searched. We were held here for hours.

Finally late afternoon the police withdrew and marched off back down the road to their convoy of vans. We were not going to give up yet so we decided to have another go, a local lad told us how to get through avoiding the roadblocks. He told us a way into Nottinghamshire that would serve us well for weeks to come.

So we headed towards the M1 motorway at junction 29 southbound, then at Glapwell turn off at the Clay Cross sign, then turn sharp left and drive down the country lane past Silverhill and Sutton pit. Finally we got to Berry Hill, Mansfield, the Nottinghamshire miners headquarters. It was all over when we got there, the few staff that were in the building gave us a cup of tea. We met Henry Richardson a Notts N.U.M. official, he was wet through with sweat, he had black hair and a 1950’s style haircut. He made us very welcome and he even gave us some badges, we had a talk and he got us another cuppa. It looked like he’d had a bad day and as polite and welcoming as he was, I had the feeling that he was telling us we were not safe here.

What a difficult job he’s got. This place is a real eye opener and these headquarters are in a nice select area with landscaped gardens. It’s another world down here. We made our way back home, all the roadblocks were still in place and manned by police, they didn’t bother us though we were going back home to South Yorkshire out of Nottinghamshire.

 

The ‘battlebus’ on Picket duty somewhere in Nottinghamshire May1984. Daz Goulty giving the Victory sign.
The ‘battlebus’ on Picket duty somewhere in Nottinghamshire May1984. Daz Goulty giving the Victory sign.

 

Thursday, May 3rd 1984.

Orders for today, Pye Hill Colliery Notts, set off early this morning and got through OK! We were first there. It turns out to be a mass picket, South Wales Bobbie’s on duty they were OK! The police put us all in a field and surrounded us, we were told the pits only got 14 months to go, its exhausted. We sneaked off and went into the village pub for a game of cards, a nice little country pub, near the Pit entrance.

There was loads of trouble later as the scabs came, and a few arrests. The locals seem to be 50/50 for and against the strike. When we first arrived a local lady almost jumped into the car to pat us on the back when she realized we were pickets.

Friday, 4th May 1984.

Pye Hill again. Got there no trouble. I think they were only letting us through because we were quiet, it keeps us busy, and we leave other Notts pits alone.

Me and the lads keep walking round the village, looking where the scabs come from etc and getting to know the area. We have got friendly with the commanding officer with pips. He shouldn’t underestimate us. Every morning on our travels round the village he says good morning to us. He likes the situation, quiet and no trouble. The trouble is we are getting bored, and may have to do something about it.

Monday, 7th May 1984.

Welbeck Colliery, got through OK, and so did a few hundred other pickets, the police must have overlaid. About thirty of us walked towards the pit but the coppers arrested the first four pickets that they laid their hands on. One of the arrested lads had already been turned back in his car, but he stopped further up the road and decided to walk it to the pit. We surrounded the police and gave them a lot of hassle and the arrested lads got away, later on that day the coppers saw him again and arrested him for the second time!

We couldn’t reach the pit entrance, the police blocked the road further up and forced the pickets back. We’d had enough, so we decided to go to Cresswell, but there was no chance today and the same for Harworth. The police had got the roads and area well and truly sealed off today.

 

Cresswell. ‘Zulu’ pickets having a push against police lines. Shaun and Daz near-left. Daz with cap on, Shaun with denim jacket and white belt on.
Cresswell. ‘Zulu’ pickets having a push against police lines. Shaun and Daz near-left. Daz with cap on, Shaun with denim jacket and white belt on.

 

Tuesday, 8th May 1984.

Orders for today – Ollerton, Nottinghamshire. I don’t know how we managed to get there but we did. The trouble was the Police would not let us get out of the car! Ollerton is a no-go area for flying pickets. We decided to make our way back to Cresswell, North Derbyshire.

When we arrived there was only a few hundred pickets and a small Police presence. A few working miners’ walked into work, we didn’t half give them some “Scab!” One scab started to walk into the pit yard, he turned round, threw his snap into the pickets and went home.

Bloody hell, the noise from the cheering pickets was deafening. The next scab started to walk in and it all went quiet. I shouted loudly but slowly, “you scabbing bastard.” The man looked unnerved and glanced sheepishly over his shoulder. He did not know what was going to happen next. It was deathly quiet, he turned round and went home. I heard him say “F**k that!”

I drifted into the middle of the pickets, a wise move. I could see the Police edging their way to where I had been standing, there was a lot of nodding and winking going off among the police. If I had stayed where I was they would have got me. They daren’t come into the middle of the pickets. Afterwards I made my way back to the car watching my back all the way. Made our way back to the Baggin’ for some dinner. Beans and egg.

 

Cresswell. Police trying locate the picket who shouted abuse at the scab.
Cresswell. Police trying locate the picket who shouted abuse at the scab.

 

Wednesday, 9th May 1984.

Met at the Baggin’ this morning; 8.30am. Every picket car was full, we left for the Leisure centre at Killamarsh. We got there early and had a game of football. After our game we all went into the Working men’s club up the road for a meeting. We were given instructions to head for Hucknall Colliery in Nottinghamshire; we all set off in a massive convoy.

When we got to Pleasley on the Notts Border it was crawling with coppers, some local lads guided us through country lanes, about 30 or 40 cars got through to Hucknall pit, without the local lads help we would never have got through. When we reached Hucknall there was one hell of a mass picket there, I have never seen so many pickets. The Pit was in the town centre! One clever copper about seven foot tall got a young lad and pinned him against a garage door and threatened him. I’ve seen that big copper around once or twice since.

 

Thursday, 10th May 1984.

Destination today; Bentinck, Notts. Early start today, we have to it’s getting harder to get into Nottinghamshire. We need more time to beat police roadblocks, we seem to be doing a lot more walking through fields and housing estates etc. We managed to get to Bentinck only about a 100 pickets. Quiet today. We met a nice policeman, a very friendly chap. It’s a shame they are all not like him. He made it a lovely day, a good old fashioned policeman. It was like a “breath of fresh air.”

 

Bentinck. Daz Goulty [left] and “Tosh” Silverwood men.
Bentinck. Daz Goulty [left] and “Tosh” Silverwood men.


Friday, 11th May 1984.

Early start today – Bentinck, Nott’s and got through OK. We had to walk half a mile to the pit though. While making our way there a young lad passed us swinging his snap bag. As he got near to us some pickets asked him if he was going to work, before he could answer he got a smack, he set off running towards the pit, crying. The lad that cracked him and his mates dispersed quickly.

The pit entrance was on a slight hill to the left of us. There must have been a couple of hundred of us that got through. The scabs that were going in were mostly young lads the ‘SELFISH LITTLE BASTARDS’ they go in all confident and smile when they get to the pit gates protected by all the police. As the young scab reached the pit gates crying, a policeman put his arm around him comforting him.

I was stood right at the front of the picket line, facing the police, when suddenly some bastard shouted ‘Zulu!’ everybody pushed and shoved from behind, I remember having my face pressed against a policeman’s cheek. I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was going to die. I only weigh ten stone wet through. It was a good job it was only a short push, the pickets behind me stopped pushing and eased off and thinned out.

It took me ten minutes to come round, I was walking around as though I had been on the beer. I had an unsteady walk back to the car. Bloody hell, you won’t catch me on the front line again. We made our way back to the Baggin’ had some food and a drink.

 

A young ‘scab’ goes into Bentinck. A policeman puts a comforting arm around him.
A young ‘scab’ goes into Bentinck. A policeman puts a comforting arm around him.

 

The Mansfield Demonstration. 14th May 1984. Captain Bob Taylor.

It was a fantastic feeling at the Mansfield demo, there was thousands of miners and their families, all marching alongside their colliery banners and there wasn’t a lot of trouble. I will always remember one of the union men asking us if we wanted to stop in Nott’s for the week. We all agreed straight away. I had mixed feelings about it, although I was excited I was a bit nervous, knowing that we were going to stay in the middle of enemy territory.

We drove into Nottingham after the demonstration. Our first night in Nottingham we had a bit of spare cash, so four of us went into a nearby pub. Some of the locals overheard us talking and realized we were striking miners. Yorkshire striking miners!

One lass started making her mouth saying, The Sun says this, The Sun says that, my blood was boiling, knowing full well that this newspaper thought we were the scum of the earth. I felt a bit better after a couple of pints, I wasn’t used to a drink, being on strike with no money for beer.

The first night, we slept in sleeping bags on the floor. The next morning I was aching all over, my stomach, back and legs were very painful, I was just coming round when ‘Big Alan’ [Alan Wilson] came over to me an apologised for kicking me during the night, he thought I was his sleeping bag, as he got back late and the lights were off. In the morning were heading for Babbington pit.

 

14th May 1984. Mansfield. Bruce Wilson.

After the demonstration in Mansfield we were asked by a union man if we wanted to stop the week in Nottingham. WE ALL VOLUNTEERED UNAMINOUSLY!

Thirteen of us stayed with students in Nottingham. All Silverwood men. Among them were; Bruce Wilson
Bob Wilson
Captain Bob Taylor
Shaun Bisby
Mick Bush
Alan Wilson
Stuart Tennant
Jeff Hammill
Steve Hammill

I bumped into a Mick Tracy a neighbour of mine, and asked him to inform our loved ones, my wife etc, that I was were stopping in Nottingham for the week. I had two little kids at home but I’m sure my wife Gay would understand.

The first night we stopped in a house in Sneinton, Nottingham. The young woman who put us up was on the demonstration and had something to do with the Socialist Worker Party. The house was a right tip! Boxes and piles of newspapers filled the rooms. During the day when we were not picketing we stopped at the Polytechnic, Prefab Sprout were on. ‘Who?’ I wonder who thought that name up?

At night time we stayed in a local unemployment centre, which opened up specially for us at 10pm. The first day there I treated the lads to a meal in Nottingham Polytechnic [using spare petrol money that I had saved from my picket allowance] but now we were rich men. NUM officials gave us five pounds a day picket money and the drivers got another five quid petrol money, and I was ‘a driver’. Ten pounds a day, and all I had to do was put a bit of petrol in my car.

The first night we went for a pint. We left our digs and went into a pub were a local labour party was in a meeting, the pub was near the ‘Palais’ [a night club] in Nottingham town centre, they bought us our first couple of pints! What luck. Later we went to another pub, there was four of us sat round a table, the locals hearing us talk, guessed we were from Yorkshire and we were Striking miners. One lass started been funny with us, and said, The Sun says this, and The Sun says that, but were not bothered. We’ve got a pint in our hands, and a few bob in our pockets.

 

Tuesday, 15th May 1984.

Left our digs and went picketing Babbington pit, we came at it from Nottingham, it makes a change to drive from the middle of Nott’s, following signposts for the M1 and North, instead of the other way round. Babbington is situated not far from the M1 motorway.

Quiet day today, no arrests, I’ve no complaints. We finished picketing about noon. So me, Shaun and Mick ‘bushy’ decided to have a run into Nottingham. We ended up at the Victoria Centre, in the middle of Nottingham.

Well, talk about ‘where angels fear to tread’! Mick had a bright idea, we bought a cheap plastic bucket, and covered it with ‘coal not dole’ stickers, and went about collecting for the NUM strike fund. We’d only been at it ten minutes when we bumped into Steve Hammill, an NUM official, he wasn’t impressed, telling us that it was illegal, but we scrounged some more stickers off him.

It wasn’t long before we had collected about eight pounds in shrapnel. It all went on expenses though, cigs and beer. You should have seen us, sat in a pub with eight pounds of shrapnel on the pub table, with the bucket in a marks and Spencers plastic bag under the table. You could still see the stickers through the plastic bag!

I was struck with a guilty conscience, but the troops have to be fed, so we drank till the funds ran out, I put Queen on the jukebox, ‘I Want To Break Free’, now that was a treat.

The young lass behind the bar kept giving us dirty looks and looking at the empty bucket under the table, I don’t blame her. During our fund raising, we got a lot of hassle off the locals, one old lady walked past us and when we put the bucket in front of her, she said, “cheeky bastards!” But we also got some well-wishers, one young woman put fifty pence in our bucket after witnessing how badly police were treating women on the Nott’s picket line. One young woman put fifty pence in, and told me her husband was a scab! In the entrance to the Victoria Centre, one old man called me a dirty Yorkshire sod, and to be thankful that I’ve got a job. So piss off back to Yorkshire! A policeman came up very close and watched, I didn’t say anything, well the bobby didn’t hear me say, “you old bastard.”

 

Wednesday, 16th May 1984.

Still picketing Babbington, a mass picket this morning. Some Silverwood lads got chased. The coppers would probably have arrested them for going through gardens, but the rest of the pickets shouted, “leave them alone’ and they did. The police were Scousers from Merseyside and have been OK up to now.

 

Thursday, 17th May 1984.

Frank came round to see us yesterday, he’s a young striking miner from Cotgrave Colliery who has been showing us around the area. Today it’s a 5.00am start, picketing Babbington all sodding day. We did the early shift, then we went for breakfast but couldn’t really afford it, food wasn’t a priority. We went back to the picket line at 11.00am to catch the afternoon shift going in, it was as boring as hell. We just stood there and shouted ‘scab’ when somebody went in, the police like it like this when its fairly quiet, it makes life easy for them.

We made our way to the Polytechnic for dinner. That night we went into Nottingham for a drink, again!, we were sat across from five or six young lasses and got talking, one of them, her fathers a scab! We explained as polite as we could, that nobody’s job is safe. Her’s was though, she worked in a factory making knickers for Marks & Spencer, we told her that if the NCB get its way then all the Yorkshire women won’t be able to afford to buy knickers, so you’ll be redundant. You can’t talk to someone who won’t listen.

 

Friday, 18th May 1984.

Babbington, got there at 5am to catch the day shift going in, Frank from Cotgrave came on the picket line, he’s found out that MacGregor was at a meeting at a Nottingham town centre hotel, we set off walking there. We met some lads walking back, they told us he’d gone.

We went back to the Poly, but someone told the NUM secretary that MacGregor wasn’t supposed to be leaving till 11.00am. So we ran back, he was still in the meeting, we couldn’t have timed it any better. Got him coming out! If we had been any earlier we would have been moved. He got out of his car, glanced towards us and gave us a look of dismay. Next minute one of the lads jumped into the middle of the road and shouted, “WE WILL NEVER SURRENDER, YOU BASTARD MacGREGOR!”

We all joined in then, shouting, “MacGREGOR! OUT! OUT! OUT!” From our position round the corner, sat in their vans out of sight, there must have been a thousand bobbies. Three of them started walking towards us and the closer they got the bigger they got. Big bastards they were! We didn’t stay any longer to see how big they really were, we all scarpered fast, in fact I have never seen Alan Wilson move so fast! We were on telly that night, on ITN, BBC and Calendar ‘Yorkshire’, we’re as famous as Macgregor.

After this we made our way back to our digs, the unemployment centre. Thought we should have a clean up, a wash and a shower etc, all thirteen of us. The thing was, we only had one towel between us! Me, Captain Bob and Shaun were last in the shower, someone threw Captain Bob the towel, What did he do with it? Well he put one hand in front of him and the other behind and did a forward and backward movement with the towel, drying his naughty bits. Then he threw the towel at me and Shaun, he missed we were too quick for him, me and Shaun dried ourselves with our vests.

After an eventful afternoon we made our way back to Yorkshire, good old Yorkshire. Nobody stops us leaving Nottinghamshire, but they don’t like you coming in. Every time I see that sign on the M1 near the Woodall services going home after picket duty, ‘Welcome to South Yorkshire’, or ‘The Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire’ as Margaret Thatcher might call it. It’s nice to be home.

One last laugh for today, we dropped Captain Bob off at Rawmarsh Baths, I opened the car boot for him to get his clothes out, he picked up his old purple bri-nylon underpants, and somebody’s toothbrush was sticking to the crutch area, he knocked it off, Bob asked the lads, who’s toothbrush is it? Nobody owned up.

The week we stopped in Notts. The pit above is possibly Bilsthorpe or Calverton Colliery. Notts. Striking Nottinghamshire miners, middle left, and police reinforcements coming out.
The week we stopped in Notts. The pit above is possibly Bilsthorpe or Calverton Colliery. Notts. Striking Nottinghamshire miners, middle left, and police reinforcements coming out.

                                                     

Every evening striking Silverwood miners reported to the Baggin’ [Silverwood miners Welfare] for their ‘Orders’ the next day’s picketing destination. This piece of paper with written instructions was placed on a table. This one is from May 1984 and probably refers to Tuesday 1st May.
Every evening striking Silverwood miners reported to the Baggin’ [Silverwood miners Welfare] for their ‘Orders’ the next day’s picketing destination. This piece of paper with written instructions was placed on a table. This one is from May 1984 and probably refers to Tuesday 1st May.
 

Monday, 21st May 1984.

Thoresby colliery, fall back to Cresswell. Managed to get through, we’re getting better! When we get to a roadblock the lads duck down and keep quiet, I just look forward, drive and try to look indifferent, hoping they take me for a local. We drove past Ollerton pit gates!

Tried to get through to Thoresby. Saw a roadblock so I turned round, but it didn’t work this time, coppers chased us and stopped us, taking our names and addresses, they told us that the next time we were seen in Nott’s we would be arrested, clever bastard, we were told to piss off back to Yorkshire. I drove on, we don’t give up that easily, especially when spoken to like that. We carried on driving up and down country lanes, then came to another bleeding roadblock, bobbies stopping all cars. We won’t get through so I turned round, and they chased us again!! When they caught up with us, we got a police escort to the Derbyshire border by a police car, a van full of police and a motorbike bobby. We felt like royalty!

Managed to fall back to Cresswell where there were a few hundred pickets and a small police presence. We gave it some ‘Scab’ when the workers arrived, a quiet day today at Cresswell. Made our way back to the Baggin’ and had some egg and beans, it’s about time they changed the menu! One Yorkshire picket told me a lad had a hole in his petrol tank, he found a note on his windscreen saying ‘hole in your petrol tank’, from a sympathetic Scouse Bobby. Oh well.

 

Tuesday, 22nd May 1984.

Meeting at Silverwood Miners’ Welfare at 9.30am. Our destination; Silverhill Colliery Notts. Set off and ought to have known better, as we were turned back at Pleasley, but we persevered and finished up going down a back alley. The local residents must have thought we were gangsters, there was only just enough room for a car to get down the back alleyway, it’s a good job it wasn’t washing day today.

After this we saw another roadblock, the lads got down and we got through, then we saw another bloody roadblock! Luckily the weather was dry we came to an old favourite of ours, a disused railway track and an embankment, so I drove along it for a couple of hundred yards, then drove down the other side of the embankment. You didn’t always know where these shortcuts would lead you, it was a gamble, but today, it paid off, we beat all the roadblocks.

We set off and got to within a mile of the pit gates, police had all the roads blocked again! It’s as tight as a gnat’s arse, Nottinghamshire today. We hung around for an hour hoping the police would ease off, but they didn’t and I’m not walking a mile to the pit and leaving my car at their mercy. We headed for Cresswell instead. There were a few pickets there, we stayed and gave the scabs some abuse.

On the way back home, every policeman we saw or roadblock we came across, I papped my horn to attract their attention and we all shouted abuse at them, with a few rude hand signs thrown in for good luck. ‘Wanker’ was the favourite, being able to deliver the message verbally and if the police couldn’t hear, they were left in no doubt when the hand sign was shown to them by a car full of pickets. We came to one road block and the lads were supposed to be hiding in the bottom of the car, as we passed the police I glanced round. I could see a lone hand stuck up, visible to the police. Two fingers displayed. The police were not too pleased at all.

 

Cresswell Colliery on a quiet day. Bob Wilson has a laugh and a joke with a friendly commanding police officer, at the entrance to the pit.
Cresswell Colliery on a quiet day. Bob Wilson has a laugh and a joke with a friendly commanding police officer, at the entrance to the pit.

 

Wednesday, 23rd May 1984.

Today’s target, Sherwood pit near Mansfield. Got five pounds petrol money. Left Baggin’ at 9.30am, couldn’t get through but managed as far as Shireoaks. We heard that Shireoaks was being picketed by women and children. We went down country lanes towards Shireoaks but had no chance at getting anywhere near the pit. All access roads well and truly sealed. The police wouldn’t even let us walk as we were regarded as illegal secondary picketers and were only supposed to picket our own place of work. Made our way back to Cresswell, arrived about 11.55am, but it was too late to catch the afternoon shift going in, so we made our way home.

A quiet day on the picket line at Cresswell, A senior police officer is on his way to tell me, and Daz [on right of photo] to ‘move on’ and get back to the rest of the flying pickets. The pickets in the background are Cresswell strikers picketing their own pit.
A quiet day on the picket line at Cresswell, A senior police officer is on his way to tell me, and Daz [on right of photo] to ‘move on’ and get back to the rest of the flying pickets. The pickets in the background are Cresswell strikers picketing their own pit.


Thursday, 24th May 1984.

Busy day today. Met at Baggin’, 9.30am, destination Bevercotes pit. A large convoy of flying pickets set off, meeting up with other cars full of pickets on the way. Managed to get through, to within a mile of the pit. Went through Harworth, Serlby Hall, Retford, then down the A1, following a sign for the national mining museum.

As we came off the A1, we came to a bridge going back over the A1,the road in front of us was completely blocked by police and they refused to let us through again. There was about two hundred of us and not many of them, so we gave them some ‘flying wedge’. We all charged into the police lines, they tried pushing us back up the road. A senior police officer pulled out his ‘cosh’ and hit a picket on the head. The poor lad, from Cortonwood pit fell like a stone. Coppers stuck the boot in then. He finished up with a massive gash to his head, the poor bugger was holding onto Pete Bailey, a Silverwood lad with both hands, suffering with shock. An Ambulance came to get the injured miner half an hour later. The pickets wouldn’t let the police look after him, as they would have arrested him as well.

The senior police officer, an evil man, resembled Kenneth Williams out of the Carry On films. Paul Burke a Silverwood lad was like a dog sniffing for a bone, looking for a brick. Afterwards we doubled back to Harworth. I parked up in a pub car park and we walked to the pit in two’s, me and brother Bob, Shaun and Captain Bob. Two coppers let Bob and Shaun through, me and our kid told the two bobbies we were going to the pub, up the road, the two policemen warned us, if we were seen picketing, it would be ‘Instant arrest’.

We walked to the pit entrance, but missed all the action again! Walking back to the car, with all the other lads. I saw Bob W and Shaun give a transit van full police some ‘zeig heil’ accompanied by a Nazi salute, the van full of police turned round, two of them got out, threatening us all with arrest and took their names and addresses. Clever bastards!

A clever Scottish copper looked round my car and threatened me again, his gaffer told us that if we were seen at the pit tomorrow it would be ‘instant arrest’. We told him ‘alright, but were coming back anyway’, made our way to the Baggin’ for some snap, beans and egg, in that order.

Men are going to Orgreave from the Baggin’ this afternoon. Another pound picket money and a quid petrol money. Convoys of lorries are taking coke to Scunthorpe steelworks. When we got to Orgreave there was too many police, when the convoy came some pickets broke away and bricks rained down on the lorries, about half a dozen of them got their windscreens put through. Serves the scabbing bastards right.

When they came out of the plant again, about 24 lorries this time, me and Bob, with Shaun ran to a wall near the road, one lad jumped over the wall onto the causeway, a load of coppers caught him and gave him a good hiding, all he was doing was shouting. Some of the police jumped over the wall and chased all three of us, usual routine; bobbies helmets off, place them on the floor and set off charging after us, full uniforms on, big woolly jumpers etc. They had no chance being a hot day. They chased us for a couple of hundred yards, then gave up, then more of the bleeders squared up and attempted another chase!

One bobby shouted, “GET THAT BASTARD IN THE BLACK LEATHER JACKET”, that was Shaun. We came to a factory at the bottom of a banking, next to the parkway. Some lads at the top, [who worked there] overlooking us, shouted, “COME ON LADS DON’T LET THEM GET YOU”, the police shouted to us, “COME ON DOWN LADS, WERE ONLY GOING TO ARREST YOU.”

We replied, “FUCK OFF!”

There was a hole in the fence that we came to, so we scrambled through it to safety. There must have been two thousand of the bastards here today at Orgreave. I took my jumper off and made my way back to the car, I didn’t want to be recognised. Met all the lads back at the car, all safe and sound. Lucky today!

Police on duty today;
Bevercotes- Notts police
Harworth- West Midlands police
Orgreave- South and West Yorkshire & Hampshire.

Later on that day we heard that Paul Burke, the Silverwood lad, got arrested again at Bevercotes, his third time! Shaun never wore his black leather jacket again after today.

 

Friday, 25th May 1984.

Orgreave today, getting into a routine. Shift times for pickets, 7.00am to 12.30am, days and 4.00pm to 5.00pm, afters. Cold this morning, pickets split into four groups, about 50 – 100 men in each. The first run came early, 12 o’clock, we went back again to Orgreave at 4pm. We didn’t see anything, it was throwing it down, got wet through and so did the boys in blue, we came home, a long day today.

On the slip road onto the Sheffield Parkway, four lorry wind screens were put through, which made our day. About time too, the scabbing bastards. They’re all scab drivers, most lorry signs are covered, some say B.S.C , showing the blue logo. Some have ‘Holme-upon-Spalding’ moor, East Yorkshire. It’s a place on the way to Scarborough.

 

Saturday, 26th May 1984.

Working today, It’s going to be different from the usual routine, going to Scunthorpe, me and Captain Bob on the scouting shift midnight to 6am. We got to Scunthorpe about 10.40pm.

As we came to the end of the M180 Motorway, we saw this massive pub on a roundabout, we couldn’t resist it, so we called in for one. The pub was 2 or 3 miles from the steelworks, when me and Captain Bob walked in the room was massive, you couldn’t see the end of the bar and it was packed! Everyone was sitting down. Some of the locals came up to us and we all had a chat, they knew we were striking miners, it didn’t take much working out. Bob was covered in Coal Not Dole stickers and even his ‘flat cap’ was adorned with an array of strike badges. I had my picket badges on as well, we stuck out like two sore thumbs.

The locals bought us a couple of pints and twenty fags, it felt very intimidating there was hundreds of people in this room and it was fairly quiet. The locals were friendly but I was glad to get out. Got to Appleby Frodingham about 11.30pm, we had just missed the evening shift. I didn’t have a clue as to what we were looking for, I think it was the movement of lorrie’s but me and Captain Bob got a night out.

It was very cold and wet tonight at the steelworks entrance, well one of them [we found out later there were loads of entrances]. While me and Bob were mooching about we found a fishing umbrella someone had left, I put it in the car boot and we moved to the next entrance. We didn’t stay there long, we got moved on by some maudy police. Tonight’s police were from East Humberside, Bridlington etc. We had a scout round nothing doing, so we set off home about 5.30am.

 

Monday, 28th May 1984.

Bank Holiday today. Reported for duty at Orgreave at 8am. There was about 2,000 pickets there. Arthur Scargill was there too and he gave a speech. We came home about 9.30am.

No lorries due to the bank holiday. They will be back tomorrow, going to the Baggin’ tonight at 7.00pm, there’s reputedly 50,000 tons of coke at Orgreave. The weather today, cold damp and drizzling, the lads at Scunthorpe Steelworks reckon it’s a firm called E.L.S doing the coke runs from Orgreave, based in East Yorkshire.

 

Tuesday, 29th May 1984.

Orgreave.

Before going to Orgreave this morning we went to Bentinck Colliery, Notts. Pickets outnumbered the police [from Hampshire]. We had a couple of hours there, but we couldn’t wait to get back to Orgreave.

Got there later this morning and it wasn’t long before heavy fighting broke out. Pickets on the front line are having a bad time, cavalry and riot police running riot, total disregard for life and limb. The night before we all had a scrounge round, with the help of some Treeton lads, we got all the old tins of paint we could find, a bag of potatoes and a big bag of six inch nails, we spiked the potatoes with nails and we poured paint into old plastic bread bags. There was a few piles of bricks scattered around, we hid our armoury on top of the embankment overlooking the road where the lorries came off the Sheffield Parkway.We hadn’t long to wait, the convoy of lorries came off the parkway, they had to slow down to negotiate a bend and guess who was waiting for them in the bushes. Us!

At the right moment we gave it to them and their police f***g escort, who were on motorbikes and in vans. Someone got that carried away throwing their missiles, they fell down the steep banking. Potatoes with nails in them, old tins and bags of paint, all aimed at the lorry windscreens. When they ran out we had a pile of bloody house bricks. The convoy got them as well. We did what damage we could. The police on motorbikes tried driving up the steep embankment, one bike toppled over and nearly landed on top of the rider, I think he got giddy, he’s been watching too much telly.

You should have seen it, the scene could have been taken from the film Spartacus, all hell let loose, it rained bricks and stones. Windscreens were smashed again, it was hit and run today! We shot off into the woods, across some playing fields and into the village, mingling in with the locals. Very surprised they didn’t get us today, probably don’t know their way around that well.

After walking a mile or so we got back to the rest of the pickets on the front line, there was masses of police, all day long it was chants of “here we go here we go here we go’ oh”, followed by mass shouts of “Zulu” followed by mass pushes against the police ranks. I went down in one of the pushes and was crushed by several pickets on top of me. I could hear shouts of ‘ARE YOU TAKING ANY PRISONERS? MR SIMPSON’ [the No1 bobby at Orgreave].

Then they charged into us, grabbing and snatching pickets, the police then hitting them with truncheons and taking them back behind their lines. The cavalry hitting anything that moved, I ran from the truncheon wielding police and cavalry back down Orgreave Lane, there was nowhere else to run. The mass of miners running away from the police formed a mass wall and you couldn’t get past them or overtake them. I would have been grabbed by the police, a lot of miners who were too slow or were held up by the wall of retreating pickets got arrested. Some miners stopped running and turned round, they faced a ‘mass of blue’ coming at them, ‘truncheons drawn’ the police didn’t show them any mercy. Bastards!.

The front line at Orgreave. Miners having ‘a push’ against the police ranks to accompanying shouts of ‘ZULU!’ Courtesy the Rotherham Advertizer.
The front line at Orgreave. Miners having ‘a push’ against the police ranks to accompanying shouts of ‘ZULU!’ Courtesy the Rotherham Advertizer.

 

Wednesday, 30th May 1984.

This morning we set off for Annesley pit, next door to Newstead pit Notts. The police wouldn’t let us through, so we fell back to Bentinck, only a handful of pickets there. We stopped for a bit then made our way to Orgreave, guaranteed fun and games. When we got there, heavy fighting again, same as yesterday. I’m sure they’re not taking prisoners, just whacking pickets with their ‘hurry up sticks’ just for the fun of it. Arthur Scargill arrested today. At Orgreave this morning, several policemen chased a copper disguised as a picket, they caught him in a field and kicked the shit out of him. As he was being beaten he kept telling them “ I’m a police officer” they didn’t believe he was a copper, until he got to hospital.

 

Thursday, 31st May 1984.

Set off into Nottinghamshire this morning, forgot where we were heading, got stopped by police at Hardwick Hall near Silverhill Colliery. We were advised to turn round and go back to South Yorkshire, we did and headed straight for Orgreave. What a beautiful day!

We approached the front line from the Catcliffe end walking up to Orgreave, you’ve more room to make a quick getaway. We’re used to their tactics and tricks now. We gave it some ‘Zulu’ on the front line, then it went quiet. It was lovely and warm, I just had my vest on, there was hundreds of pickets sunbathing, t-shirts wrapped around their waists. I decided to inspect the police ranks, I walked along their front line with my t-shirt around my waist. I kept at a safe distance, about ten foot away, as they were liable to jump out and ‘snatch you’.

I came across our ‘community bobby’ he had ginger hair, he was on the front line! A lovely bloke, before the strike he came to my house and served me papers to go to court [for motoring offences]. I pretended not to see him, he looked very anxious, you could tell by the look on his face. He did not want to be there, I felt sorry for him.

Walking back down the police front line, I nodded at him in a way that I hoped told him ‘I understand’. After this the pickets made another charge at the police lines shouting ‘Zulu’, the police sent the cavalry in, it turned nasty. I made my way to a safe place, I was sat on an embankment, high up and well back and in relative safety. For the rest of the afternoon I sat and watched the cavalry going into the pickets again and again. It was like watching an old Wild West film, cowboys and Indians. I was on telly wearing a Blue jumper and a blue and white striped t-shirt.

Pic 12


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