LIFE ON THE FRONT LINE
In the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike
PART NINE: October 1984
This terrible loss. Cavalry charges and riot squad.
One of our team told me he is having time off from the picket line for a while. He and his wife have suffered a terrible loss. I don’t like writing this entry in my diary. I feel like I’m intruding on someone’s personal grief. But as hard as it is to write about this sad event. I feel I must write this entry because it happened, and it’s the truth.
My mate and his wife have just lost a newborn baby. An infant, a few days old. I don’t know where to start. The DHSS will not pay the funeral costs because he is a striking miner. A recently passed law by Thatcher and her cronies? Say that he has to find the money himself to bury his child. He never spoke about it, and we never asked. But I believe the NUM and his family helped him out.
Monday, 1st October 1984.
Back to the old ways; we collected our orders from the Baggin’ at 7pm. Destination. Silverwood. It was very quiet when we got there, although Maltby lads reckon that the coppers are waiting for revenge after the incidents at Silverwood last Friday.
Just before the scabs arrived the police started to emerge from the pit gates, one of them started feeling feint and four of his mates carried him back into the pit yard, he probably couldn’t face the front line. We decided to move on to Thurcroft pit. All morning we were chased around the housing estate by the boys in blue, wearing another pair of shoes out.
Tuesday, 2nd October 1984.
Silverwood today, but decided not to go. We went to Thurcroft where all the actions is, we arrived at 5.00am. A policeman with a microphone informed us that the scabs had already gone in. He was lying.
The cavalry, riot squad and hundreds of uniformed police pushed us towards the bridge over the M18 motorway, I was forced to run down an embankment, chased by some coppers carrying shields and batons. I had to run across the motorway to escape, someone told me later I was seen on telly, I was wearing my maroon coloured lumberjack jacket.
The police took charge of the bridge, but they got stoned, one of them getting a direct hit. I’ve heard that a writ has been issued against Arthur Scargill, for him to appear in court on Thursday. So far he has ignored such ‘requests’. Looks like he could be threatened with jail and the NUM funds sequestrated.
Late on at Thurcroft, the policeman in charge shouted, “IF YOU WANT YOUR CARS BACK YOU’VE GOT FIVE MINUTES TO GET THEM!” Clever Bastard. I walked back through police lines, ever fear-full of a trap. They nicked eight lads as we were making our way back to the cars, they were selected at random.
Wednesday, 3rd October 1984.
Orders for today. Kiveton Park, 5.00am. Three pounds petrol money.
Didn’t walk down to the bridge entrance, we only get penned in as usual, we stopped on the top road. Coppers tried to round us up, we sneaked round the back of them. They chased us back up the road. We were back to square one again! All quiet on the South Yorkshire front today. I’m having trouble with the battle bus- crankshaft going, plus loads of other noises.
Thursday, 4th October 1984.
Kiveton Park again,11.00am. I picked the lads up in the same order as usual, arriving at the Baggin’ about 10.00am. We had a cup of tea and a chat with some other Silverwood lads. They were telling us about the coppers invading Sunnyside pit village. It gets worse! “Maggie Thatcher’s boot boy’s” have been abusing women, the police have brought their violence into our mining communities.
We set off for Kiveton at 10.30am. As we were leaving the Baggin’ car park we noticed two police cars parked discretely between some shops across the road. One of them was on his radio talking and watching us at the same time. We caught the police on the hop, a few hundred pickets turned out. Scabs taken out the Harthill way, via the bottom gate near the bridge, then turned right.
Later that morning we went to Swinton Civic Hall for some dinner [across from the Co-op]. Pit Deputies still talking. I don’t think they will ever come out. Looks like it’s going to be a long hard strike. At home we have got enough coal for a couple of weeks.
After picket duty this week, me, Bob Wilson and Daz went digging for coke next to the big British Steel plant at Aldwarke. The security men on duty would watch us, but they never said anything. We hit a ‘seam’ of coke [the bottom of a coke stack from years ago] in one day alone we got 14 bags of coke. We sold the lot for three quid a sack and split the money. I soon got through the money though. I gave the wife some of my share.
Arthur Scargill didn’t turn up at court today-case adjourned until next Wednesday. He could be in Pentonville over Christmas [Prison].
All the trouble has been at Woolley Colliery near Barnsley. Nineteen coppers hurt in one day. Pickets took police by surprise and forty of them ran across the fields like rabbits. A few miners were badly bruised and shaken after police attacked them using dogs.
Friday, 5th October 1984.
Orders for today; Kiveton Park, fall back to Silverwood. Went out for a drink and overlaid. We managed the ‘fall back to Silverwood’ and got there at 12.00am.
Saturday, 6th October 1984.
Took Gay (the wife) for a night out with my ‘coke money’. We went to the Titanic WMC at Rawmarsh. It’s a long time since we’ve had a night out together. We had a few drinks and watched the Club turn (pop group) then we had a steady walk home, stopping at the chip shop! It was lovely evening out, I forgot about everything. Strike what strike? Water off a ducks back!
A few weeks ago Gay the wife said to me she was fed up and fancied going out for a drink a dance and something to eat. All I had was two pound picket money. We went to our local pub, had a few drinks (which cost 50 pence for two pints), I then put 10p in the jukebox and still had enough left over for a bag of chips to eat on the way home. The wife got her drink, dance and summat to eat, all for a two pounds!
Monday, 8th October 1984.
Orders for today, Silverwood 5.00am. Overlaid, went out with last of coke money last night. Me and Captain Bob had a couple of pints in the Baggin’ and a good old natter with other pickets after getting our orders. Me and the lads turned up at Silverwood for the afternoon shift at 12 noon. There is a 24 hour picket line at our pit, you can go anytime you want and stay as long as you want. But we are flying pickets and have to try and stick to our orders. ‘Ours is not to reason why’ etc.
AFTER ‘OPERATION BENT NAIL’ AT SILVERWOOD ON THE 27TH SEPTEMBER, A HIGH RANKING POLICE OFFICER CAME ON RADIO SHEFFIELD AND SAID THAT, “WHOEVER HAD DONE IT HAD SET A PRECEDENT AND EVERYBODY BAR HIS GRANDMOTHER WAS AT IT.”
Tuesday, 9th October 1984.
Kiveton Park, 5.00am start, three pounds petrol money. I picked the lads up, then headed for Kiveton Park colliery. I parked up well away from the pit, for obvious reasons. We ended up stood dead across from the pit entrance. This was a bad spot, the pit entrance in front of us. Just a few yards away, behind us there was a bloody great ditch full of water.
There were a few hundred pickets all gathered round the pit entrance, it was dark and someone was throwing crisp bags full of water into the police lines facing us. Even the police thought it funny at first, especially when someone stood next to them got a crisp bag full of water in his face, or it landed on the top of his helmet. That was until a bobby shouted out ‘that’s not water, its piss’. You should have seen their faces. One of them got a direct hit, and then another one got hit. You should have seen them, walking away behind their lines, arm’s outstretched, walking slowly, cursing and moaning. They were like big babies.
That was it! The cavalry rode out with total disregard for life and limb. They charged out on their horses, you could hear the sound of their hooves on the tarmac in the dark. The only way of escape for me and loads of other pickets was to jump in the ditch behind us. I was soaked again. These policemen have got no sense humour.
Wednesday, 10th October 1984.
Orders for today, Kiveton Park Colliery, then fall back to Silverwood. Got to Kiveton early morning again and stood in the same place. I’m sure the others pickets are saving this space especially for us. Mind you, we like to be in the thick of things. Today at Kiveton Park some comedian has brought a glove puppet. ‘It’s Sooty’. Suddenly a hand shot up in the air wearing a glove puppet and started taking the piss out of Superintendent Nesbit. Mr Nesbit was not amused at all. ‘Sooty’ asked Mr Nesbit if he was ‘taking any prisoners today?’
Mr Nesbit still didn’t find it funny, he sent the cavalry out again. This time, I lowered myself into the ditch. I didn’t get too wet though this morning. We all waited until the cavalry had their fun, then I climbed out and made our way back to Silverwood, breakfast and home. We found out why Mr Nesbit was not in a good mood. He got a smack on the nose outside Maltby pit not long ago.
Thursday, 11th October 1984.
Orders for today, Kiveton 4.00am, then fall back to Silverwood. It’s getting dangerous at Kiveton picketing in the dark. We arrived on time and walked to the pit entrance, but I kept well clear of that bloody ditch! We mingled in with other pickets, about 200-300 were present.
After waiting for about an hour the scabs went in from the bottom end of the road, coming out of the countryside, the opposite side of the village. After they had gone in Chief Superintendent Nesbit came out of the pit entrance with a loud hailer and shouted to us all, “BUGGER OFF HOME OR THE CAVALRY IS COMING OUT.” I’m getting fed up with this bloke.
We kept a fair distance away from the pit entrance and that ditch, but true to his word two minutes later the cavalry came out of the pit gates followed by dozens of police. Mind you, they did not charge out this morning, just trotted out. We had no choice, we were forced back up the road and into the village. I kept looking behind me, it was dark and you can’t be too careful. When we got to the terraced houses, just before the village the cavalry returned to their stables and the police took over. They wanted us to go home! But once we were in the village they left us alone.
We fell back to Silverwood, couldn’t get near the fire. We all bought a cig from the tea hut for ten pence. Hung around till the scabs went in, then I dropped the lads off home.
Friday, 12th October 1984.
The Battle of Brodsworth. The day we took the cavalry on and lost.
Brodsworth, Doncaster, 5.45am. Expecting a good day today. Talks continuing at ACAS. They might reach a settlement? Good day for a battle!
When we got to Brodsworth we parked in a field away from the police, trouble started straight away, walking down to the pit the cavalry came behind us. About 100 of us were pushed down the road. When they weren’t looking a few missiles went over. This is an ideal battleground, everywhere you looked there were small hedges, allotments etc, all countryside and open fields.
At the end of the road was the pit and just past it was the village. We lost Captain Bob and Daz. Me and Shaun went looking for them in the main body of pickets, but could not find them. Then I noticed a good opportunity, Cavalry in the open field thinly spread out and not many of them! Too good to miss this one. So me, Shaun, and Bob Wilson made for the cavalry, keeping a safe distance near to the hedges just incase. We joined up with about thirty other pickets. Shaun was a bit wary about joining in.
I told him horses can’t run in ploughed fields (I don’t know where I got that one from). We all ran into the field and attacked the cavalry with bricks. We are not that brave, need some ammo. They charged us and over the hedges we went. We attacked a second time, same again, retreated into the hedges.
The third time we charged the cavalry the scabs came in a convoy, all hell let loose round the pit entrance. I went too far into the field to get the cavalry, one came galloping towards me swinging his truncheon, I let him get within camera distance, took his photo, then I bricked him and his horse! I only just got away. He stopped dead, right In front of me looking startled at me taking his photograph. That gave me a bit extra time to make my escape, but his mate outflanked me, galloping along the hedges swinging his truncheon and swiping at anything that moved. He looked like he was cutting the hedges on horseback! He came at me fast! I dived into the hedges, head first not even stopping to consider they were bramble bushes. In mid-air he got me with his trunchoen, a fair old crack on the left arm, just above my elbow, bloody hell it didn’t half hurt. I did not realise at the time but he had aimed for my head. Diving in mid-air with arms outstretched, my left arm was higher than my head.
He came for me again, I climbed up the side of a pigeon hut and onto the roof using one arm! When I thought it was all clear I managed to climb down off the shed and into the field. I brushed myself down and tidied myself up. Then three vans full of short shield riot police drove into the field. Holding my injured arm I looked to my right and saw our kid (Bob Wilson) in action. He had found a wooden stake about eight foot long, stuck it in the mud and pointed it at an angle, towards the cavalry riding towards him in the open field, bloody hell! He could have killed someone. The cavalry weren’t having none of that. They stopped and retreated! What an action! Cavalry beat today by one flying picket! Our kid!
After that I started walking through the field back to the rest of the men, only to be met by the riot squad. I was watching and photographing six police truncheoning one picket to the floor, they stopped when they saw me with my camera. A short shield riot copper who looked like ‘Darth Vader’ out of the star wars films came for me out of nowhere. He meant business, helmet on, black uniform, small round shield and waving his truncheon at me. He shouted to me, “COME HERE YOU BASTARD!” I was holding my bad arm, although I had two bricks in my good hand and my camera in the other. I dropped the bricks and took his photograph. Then I showed him two fingers and told him to, “F**K OFF!”
He came for me, I turned to get out of his way and bumped into a pig and a picket fighting, all three of us fell over a hedge, I got up and walked off. Then a uniformed policeman said to a riot cop, “which one shall we nick?”
Riot copper said, “get that fat bastard.”
The poor bugger, they left me and beat the other miner to the ground with their truncheons. Then a large body of pickets who were stood at the far end of the field witnessing all what was going off. The cavalry attacking pickets and lads getting beat senseless in the field, decided to come and help. 2000 surged across the field to come and help us, they were stopped by the riot squad. Then the main body of pickets on the road fought back after the riot squad gave them a baton charge.
A BARRAGE OF MISSILES WENT OVER THAT THICK, IT LOOKED LIKE A FLOCK OF STARLINGS FLYING OVER!
I got back to the main body of pickets on the road, all of a sudden the riot police set off charging up the road heading for us, truncheons drawn in one hand and their little round shields in the other. They chased us right up into the village, we all dispersed and the riot police fell back. One of the riot police forgot himself and carried on charging when all his mates had fell back. Poor bugger, his mates had to give him the kiss of life, he got knocked senseless by the pickets. The riot cop charged up the road shouting and screaming and then suddenly stopped. He looked round and found he was on his own. A lot of good that shield and truncheon did him.
A very eventful day. I took my T- shirt off again walking back to the car. They might recognise me, I put it down my vest. My arm was really hurting now, I was doing my best to look normal as they might be looking for me. The police have learnt a new trick, they put about a hundred men at a road junction or spread out along the road and pick out all the men who have been causing trouble. We are quick learners, you have to be. How I did not get more truncheon and arrested this morning I’ll never know.
I drove back to the Baggin’ with one arm. Bob Wilson had to change gear for me, I pressed the clutch down and he put the car in gear. Good day for the miners today.
I took a couple of films to Rotherham for processing. Including the film with the pictures I took at Brodsworth. Not one turned out, and when I asked why. They said the film didn’t develop. Makes me wonder. Up to now all my photos have come out OK.
Not much on the telly tonight about the strike, but somebody has tried to blow Thatcher and her cabinet up at Brighton.
Saturday, 13th October 1984.
8.00am. Went potato picking for the day with my team. A welcome rest from the picket line. The last time I did this I was fourteen years old. The picking up points were the Queen’s Hotel and the Baths at Rawmarsh. We felt a bit daft us miners with a load of kids.
The farmer pulled up in his Landrover pulling a bloody horsebox. Me and Shaun got in first, the farmer set off driving down the road, it was wobbling all over the place. It reminded me of the ‘Wild mouse’ a man- riding mail down the Braithwell two development at Silverwood. It used to go all over the place, people would have paid good money to ride on that mail!
The farmer took us to a field across from the Marquis pub at Upper Haugh, Rawmarsh. Today we were ‘Lifters’ on nine pounds a day. We would be rich at this rate. It was easy, water off a duck’s back to us. We followed the tractor and trailer round picking full baskets of spuds up and tipping them into the trailer. Everything stopped at 11am. The farmer’s wife pulled into the field in a van, she opened the back doors and there was a big stainless container full of hot tea, and dripping sandwiches. Things have not changed since I was a kid.
Then at 1.00pm we stopped for an hours break. We could see the pub, just across the road, the Marquis Hotel. We went into the tap room. There were a few people inside, we knew some of them, they were miners. At least they were sat watching telly and not going into work. I had enough money for half a bitter each, not even enough for a bag of crisps to share, the lads were skint. I went to the bar. Mr Zammito the landlord guessed who we were and what we were doing. I asked for our half of beer, Mr Zammito turned round to his son Pablo and told him to go into the kitchen and get some chips for us lads. I explained that we were OK and could not afford to buy any chips. He told us that they were ‘on the house’ I felt a lump in my throat. Pablo came out of the kitchen with a basket of chips for us to share. They were beautiful! As we left I thanked Mr Zammito for the chips and told him I would return after the strike and buy him a drink (I made a point of keeping my word, and went up after the strike to see Mr Zammito).
Back on the job lifting potatoes Me and Shaun had a laugh or two. Time went quick and at 5pm we were finished. The farmer took us all back to his farm in the horsebox. We stood in the queue with all the kids waiting for our pay. When it came to our turn the farmer gave us nine pound each. That’s a lot of money. My wife only gets about fourteen pounds a week, if that and that’s family allowance for her and two little kids. If we did not have kids we would get bugger all. Abbey National, our building society have frozen our mortgage for the duration of the strike.
Monday, 15th October 1984.
Depart from Baggin’ at 3.30am. Double shift today, Brookhouse then fall back to Kiveton Park. We went to Brookhouse first and arrived at the Beighton end. We went down the Sheffield Parkway. Had a cup of tea in the Miners’ Welfare, then we set off walking up the road. Police on horses pushed us right up to the top road (Swallownest end). Very quiet so we set of for Kiveton Park, only to find the scabs had gone in! No action today.
Tuesday, 16th October 1984.
Destination, Shireoaks Colliery in Derbyshire, for 4.00am. Four pounds petrol money. Tried all ways to get there, no chance of getting through, it’s foggy, dark and not much time to play with, so we went down the A57 to Worksop. All the little country lanes were blocked off as I expected. Twenty police blocking the A57. Picket’s cars were parked sensibly in lay-by’s etc. We don’t want our windscreens ‘accidentally damaged by police’.
We set off walking to the pit, did not get far, the police were out in force, all big buggers, no identification numbers on. They walked up the road in front of the uniformed police, with their fluorescent jackets on, the ‘Snatch Squad’. They pushed us out of the village. Everyone made their way back to the cars. Thankfully the police were OK! Went to the Baggin’ for a cup of tea.
Wednesday, 17th October 1984.
Captain Bob got some truncheon. Twice! For doing nothing!
Silverwood this morning. Picked the lads up and parked in the pit car park near the garage, we then walked the last few hundred yards to the pit entrance. As we got there, Mr Nesbit of ‘Orgreave and Kiveton Park fame’ came out of the pit yard, shouting, “ONLY SIX PICKETS ALLOWED THIS MORNING, all the rest bugger off home.”
Well we know Mr Nesbit likes his cavalry and they might be hiding round the corner, with the ‘Lone Ranger in front’ (there’s one white horse in Nesbits cavalry squad). We set off walking back to the car, escorted by police to start with. After they left us a van full of police pulled up behind us, Shaun shouted jokingly, “LETS GO AND TURN THAT VAN OVER” accompanied with a few ‘zeig heils’ and a load of other verbal abuse, that’s when a van full of riot police drove up the hill, heading for us!
We all dispersed into the surrounding fields. Captain Bob carried on walking on the causeway, not a care in the world! He did not look round, after all Bob has done nothing wrong. Next minute a bobby jumped out of the van and truncheoned Captain Bob on the right shoulder. The bobby told Bob to, “F**K OFF.”
Bob carried on walking down the road. Another van full of police pulled up next to him, again Bob did not look round he was not doing anything wrong. Shit! It’s the same van, it’s gone round the block and come back. No it’s a different van! A bobby jumped out and truncheoned Bob on the back and shoulder this time. I think they had it in for Captain Bob today. Anyway Bob stuck to his guns and got back to the car none the worse for his experience.
Made our way to the Baggin’ for a cup of tea and breakfast, accompanied by the sounds of Bob moaning and groaning, nursing his bruises in the back seat. He soon shut up when we all voted ‘unanimously’ to award him the deed of the day medal for the rest of the week. He’s still got it from last week. He won’t part with it.
Thursday, 18th October 1984.
After a quiet week, we were sent to Rossington Colliery, near Doncaster. They say you can’t beat the system but we keep trying, we keep turning out. The Government is trying desperately to break the strike, especially in South Yorkshire. But after 8 months on strike, there’s only a handful of men working at Yorkshire Collieries.
When we got to Rossington there were about 2,000 pickets. We had to go through fields etc to get to the pit gates. It was pitch black. Just before the pit gates, 100 pickets charged 50 riot police, they shit themselves! The pickets charged shouting, “WE’RE MINERS, WE’RE MINERS WE’LL NEVER BE DEFEATED!” It lifted my heart, all those young lads charging. Half an hour later 1500 to 2000 miners came marching down the road, a sight for sore eyes! Then a police convoy came down the road. They got bricked to hell!
A police horsebox, as big as a double -decker bus drove onto the causeway and deliberately ran a picket down. He was lucky to escape with just ‘serious injuries’. During all this some pickets removed a man-hole cover in the main road. Police vans came speeding down the road, one van full of police ran into the hole in the road, the back doors opened up and a copper fell out, the following police van ran him over (we found out later he suffered severe bruising).
Someone had lit a fire in the middle of the road. Everywhere you looked there was little battles going off between pickets and riot Police. We stopped with a large group of pickets. In small numbers you would have been very vulnerable, and ‘picked off’ by the riot squad. It was pitch black, fires blazing away lighting the night sky up. It was like scenes from hell. Then they came. The cavalry, the riot squad, they all charged out of the pit gates up the road towards us, AND THEY WEREN’T IN THE MOOD TO TAKE PRISONERS!
Someone has got a lot to answer for after this strike- especially Thatcher. To the Tories a scab is a hero.
Typical for the rest of the morning, very severe and heavy hand-to-hand fighting. We went round the back streets in the village, riot police and pickets battling all over the place. We came to two miners both in their twenties, one carrying a riot shield!
Fires were burning all over, riot police were jumping out on miners, miners ambushing police. We never got back to the pit entrance this morning. And I’m not bothered! We carried on picketing safely in numbers, well back up the road! When we decided to make our way back to the car, we kept bumping into other small groups of pickets doing the same. We made our way back through fields etc. Police won’t follow us through countryside, especially in the dark.
My team turned up all safe and sound. For a laugh I did a roll call like the Sergeant in the film Zulu. “Captain Bob”, a reply came back, “here sir.”
“Shaun” (no reply), “I’ve seen you son, you’re alive.
Friday, 19th October 1984.
Orders for today, Brodsworth. Overlaid recovering from yesterday. Deputies voted 82% majority in favour of strike action.
Monday, 22nd October 1984.
Orders today. Thurcroft pit, fall back to Silverwood. Overlaid. Had a day off.
Tuesday, 23rd October 1984.
At the Baggin’ our orders were Silverwood, 3.00 am. I picked the lads up. We were full of it! When we got there only about 300 pickets. On telly it said 1500. Someone’s got triple vision.
Very quiet today, mind you we were surrounded by cavalry and the riot squad and the snatch squads were stood just behind them. We called them snatch squads as they wore high visibility jackets and they were the biggest coppers you have ever seen! They would reach into the pickets and snatch trouble makers out. After the scabs went in we went to the Baggin’ and had some egg and beans. We’re beginning to look like egg and beans.
Wednesday, 24th October 1984.
Destination Yorkshire Main, Edlington near Doncaster. Overlaid, saw it on telly at home later, 3000 pickets turned out.
Thursday, 25th October 1984.
Orders for today- Silverwood. Got there early and stood next to the fire. Passed a couple of hours on chatting etc, then made our way to Kiveton Park for a change, we couldn’t wait.
At Kiveton we had some ‘Zulu’ pushing and shoving. At the end of our stint pickets started to go home, some lads shouted, “DON’T GO! MAKE THEM STAND HERE AND EARN THEIR MONEY”.
Inspector Nesbit replied, “if you don’t move now the cavalry’s coming out.” Mr Nesbit is not taking prisoners again this morning. We did not move and the cavalry came out, as promised.
Just across from the pit entrance there’s a bloody great ditch, half full of water. The cavalry came out, I went in the ditch and got absolutely soaked, the cavalry went charging up the hill! Two nice police officers reached down into the ditch, arms outstretched and offered to help me out. I declined their offer of assistance. I could not help but burst into laughter. I told them in a nice way to ‘FUCK OFF’ they both smiled at each other. I knew their plan, and as pissed off and wet as I was, I waded up the ditch and climbed out further up. I wasn’t going to make things worse by getting arrested as well. Although the two coppers seemed sincere. That’s just the sort of thing they would do. YOU JUST CANNOT TRUST THEM!
This flying picketing is getting harder. I’ll have to stop at Silverwood for a while I think, I’ve got battle fatigue, could do with a rest. This morning on the front line, a miner called Sam Hackleton from Cortonwood was there. A picket said to a bobby, “god you’re ugly. You’re uglier than Sam Hack.” The bobby smiled. The next minute a miner shouted Sam Hack to come over. Bloody hell, he was ugly! 22 stone, nose bent over onto his cheek. It knocked the smile off that policeman’s face.
Courts are sequestering NUM funds, anything they can lay their hands on. Gay the wife comes back from her mum’s tomorrow with our two little kids. I can’t wait to see them. Her mum lives in Waltham Cross Hertfordshire. Gay’s uncle Jim is in the Middlesex force and they’re sending him back up to the picket lines. He’s coming back for some more next week! They’re sending him to Derbyshire. I don’t think he has much choice, and he’s not a young man now.
Please send us to Barnsley or Doncaster! That’s where all the action is! YORKSHIRE N.U.M, NO SURRENDER!
Friday, 26th October 1984.
Exactly the same as yesterday, Silverwood then Kiveton. Three pound petrol money and two pound picket money. A quid for going to Silverwood and another quid for flying to Kiveton Park. It’s a lot of money to us, on a good day we get two pounds each, it’s like doing overtime.
Parked at the Cavalier pub and walked it down to the pit, some nice women from Nalgo (Sheffield) on the picket line today. We watched the scabs go in then headed for Kiveton. There must have been 2000 pickets there and as many police.
Same old story, not enough of us, surrounded by police and the cavalry waiting in the pit yard ready to charge out at Mr Nesbit’s command. This morning if you said so much as ‘Boo!’ You got arrested. It’s a bad place to picket Kiveton, the distance from the pit entrance to the ditch across the road is only a few yards, and when the horses come out, there’s only one way to go. Usually in the ditch.
Monday, 29th October 1984.
Silverwood. All quiet. Stood round the fire most of the morning supping cups of tea and smoking. Had a game of cards under the tarpaulin. Did our usual 5-6 hour stint then went to the Baggin’ for some breakfast.
Tuesday, 30th October 1984.
Silverwood, early morning. When we arrived, police playing football in the pit yard. Pickets had a fire going in an old oil drum, all the wood that was available was damp and wet. Smoke was drifting into the pit yard, choking the ‘players’. Superintendent Nesbit came out and instructed us to put the fire out, followed by some of his men carrying buckets of water.
Dave Vickers (a Silverwood pit bottom loco driver) was stood next to the fire. As the police poured water onto the fire, the more it smoked. When the police went back into the pit yard, pickets put more damp wood on the fire. The police came out again and put more water on, causing even more smoke! The wind direction sent all the smoke into the pit yard, away from the pickets.
After a while the police got fed up. Mr. Nesbit and the pickets came to an amicable solution. We could have our fire, they wouldn’t put water on it.