PETER LAZENBY recommends a richly illustrated book that combines a wealth of fact with engaging narrative
The Flame Still Burns
edited by Granville Williams
(The Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom £9.99)
The after-effects of the miners’ strike against pit closures of 1984-5 continue.
Thirty-two years after the strike ended, the effects do not simply linger on — they reverberate and grow.
The pits may have gone. Many of the communities still suffer. But the energy generated by the strike, the increasing thirst not just to commemorate the strike, but to preserve and celebrate the unique and centuriesold spirit of miners, their communities, art, culture and tradition of solidarity, increases annually.
The Flame Still Burns — The Creative Power of Coal is a new book produced by the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom (CPBF).
It is the fourth from the CPBF about miners and the miners’ strike and is edited by Granville Williams.
Like its predecessors, The Flame Still Burns has been written collectively by journalists and others with close associations to the strike and to the industry.
While it examines some historic aspects of coalmining and the strike, it concentrates also on the vibrancy of campaigns and activities which continue today.
Author Huw Benyon pays tribute to Davy Hopper, secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association who died in July last year, two weeks after the staging of the Durham Miners’ Gala, of which he was the leading organiser.
The Gala is itself a tribute to Davey, annually attracting more than 100,000 people to one of Europe’s biggest celebrations of the labour and trades union movement.
David Wray looks at how the banners of the north-east coalfield survive, more than 20 years after the last pit in Durham was shut down by the Tories.
And where banners have not survived they are being created by banner support groups which have been established in dozens of mining communities.
No review of the aftermath of the miners’ strike would be complete without reference to the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign.
The attack by police on picketing miners at Orgreave cokeworks outside Rotherham on June 18, 1984, is perhaps the most important piece of unfinished business resulting from the strike.
Granville Williams gives the background to Orgreave, but most importantly to the determination of the campaigners to achieve justice.
Further chapters include an examination of the development of museums devoted to the coalmining industry by Rosemary Preece, former curator of the National Coal Mining Museum of England at Wakefield.
The book will be launched at the third With Banners Held High festival at Unity Works in Sheffield on Saturday, March 4 2017.
It will be available at the festival, which starts at 11am, and which includes music, debate, speakers including Dennis Skinner, a tribute to Davy Hopper and an exhibition of art from the mining industry.
Available from www.cpbf.org.uk, Waterstones and also Housmans and Bookmarks in London; News From Nowhere, Liverpool; Books on the Park, Sheffield; and Five Leaves Books, Nottingham.