Nottinghamshire miners who stayed loyal to the National Union of Mineworkers during the heroic 1984-5 strike against pit closures are appealing to Morning Star readers for help. Here they tell PETER LAZENBY their story
We do not need to remind readers of the Morning Star that in 1985 the courts took away all the property and assets of the Nottinghamshire National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), because of the lies told by Margaret Thatcher and the head of the National Coal Board (NCB) Ian McGregor.
The courts gave the “scab” Union of Democratic Mineworkers, which was set up with the connivance of the NCB and the government, absolutely everything, down to our last paper clip.
All our historical records, all of the money paid in by our members since the Notts NUM’s birth. They even gave them our banners.
Since that time we have worked on a shoestring, with the support of our local MP, Alan Meale, and OH Parsons Solicitors, to provide an ongoing service for ex and retired NUM members.
Unfortunately, OH Parsons have now closed their offices in Mansfield and, when the current offices are either let or the current contract expires — we will be homeless again.
In 2005 we set up the Notts NUM Ex and Retired Miners Association which continues to provide a service for ex and retired NUM members.
Each year we put on a range of sporting events for our members and their families, including bowls, golf and fishing and hold an annual mining memorial service for the community to remember those miners who lost their lives in the coalmines of Nottinghamshire.
We are applying to the big lottery fund for support to provide the local communities with two minibuses, equipped with disabled access.
We offer a small educational bursary for the children of our members, funded by a gift from the estate of Professor Brian Towers.
All of this we do with the dedicated help of our team of volunteers. No-one claims a penny in our office. We do the work we do, out of our tremendous loyalty and gratitude to those men, women and families who stayed loyal in 1984/85.
Some time in 2009 our association began discussions about creating our own banner.
We wrote out to many of our sister organisations in the labour and trade union movements and slowly our banner fund grew and we finally raised enough money to pay for our new banner.
We held a competition among our members to come up with designs. The designs submitted by Joan Chaddock, David Jenkins, Bob Collier and Eric Eaton were selected for the final design (above and left).
We then turned to the premier banner makers in the country, the Durham Banner Makers where we were ably assisted by Hugh and Lottie Shankland.
In the 10 years since our association was set up we have received hundreds of donations of mining artefacts and historical documents related to our Notts NUM history.
We regularly take the mining artefacts out to our local schools in the form of our Roving Mining Museum. We put on three activities, dressing the children up mining clothes and letting them get “hands on” with our mining artefacts. They also get a chance to crawl through a mock coalface with a helmet and cap lamp and the young ones make the miners’ “snap” (meal).
We now need to develop this work further and our aim is to set up a museum that:
Tells the story of Notts NUM’s “Loyal to the Last” as it unfolded through 1984/85
Educates local children about their coalmining history.
Eric Eaton, our association’s chair, said: “We are determined that our Museum’s guiding spirit will be to showcase that loyalty and solidarity which formed the backbone of the coalminers’ work and which, of course, contributed so powerfully to the strength of the communities that formed around the pit villages.”
We launched an appeal to raise £250,000 at the Durham Miners’ Gala and we are asking for the assistance of the Morning Star and its readers to support and spread the word about our appeal.
Morning Star readers can contact us at email@example.com and donations can be sent to us at Nottinghamshire NUM Ex and Retired Miners Association, 1st Floor, Byron House, Commercial Street, Mansfield, Notts, NG18 1EE. Telephone (01623) 416-895. You can visit our website