Thousands march to commemorate Kellingley’s closure
Ex-miners, their families and supporters marched on Saturday to mark the closure of Britain’s last deep coalmine.
Three thousand people followed the banner of Kellingley colliery branch of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) from Knottingley town hall, Yorkshire, to the Big K miners’ social club half a mile away.
Local trade unionists joined the march, with South Yorkshire Unite Community, Yorkshire area Ucatt, Wakefield NUT and Doncaster Aslef branches and Worcester TUC all bringing their banners.
Miners’ campaigns were also well represented with the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign and Houghton Main Women’s Pit Camp — one of many set up during 1993-94 to highlight the community impact of the Tories’ closure programme — joining the procession.
Ex-miners from Goldthorpe in South Yorkshire — where a funeral pyre on the day of Margaret Thatcher’s funeral made worldwide news in 2013 — carried two hand-made banners reading: “UDM scabbing bastards” and “Save fuel — burn a Tory scab.”
The scab Union of Democratic Miners broke away from the NUM during the 1984-85 strike, going on to advise the Tories on how to break miners’ industrial power.
The march wound its way into the social club car park, where to cheers the Goldthorpe ex-miners poured petrol on the two banners and set them on fire.
A brass band also performed a moving rendition of Gresford, the miners’ hymn, before a rally and social at the club.
Saturday’s event was organised by two women from the mining community, Kirsten Sinclair whose partner is a miner, and Lisa Cheney whose husband is a miner. Both men lost their jobs at Kellingley on Friday.
The two marched proudly in front of the Kellingley NUM banner.
Ms Cheney told the Morning Star: “We decided to organise something to show our respect for them.”
Ms Sinclair said: “The community turn out today shows how much the miners are held in respect and the respect they showed each other working in the last few weeks in such tragic circumstances. They are strong men.”
In the social club’s huge theatre, tributes were paid to Kellingley’s miners by speakers from former mining communities around the country.
‘Our industry was murdered’
OLD friends and comrades were reunited at Saturday’s event marking the closure of Kellingley colliery.
Among those attending was Davy Miller who was NUM branch secretary at Kellingley during the 1984-5 strike.
Mr Miller was elected branch secretary in the early 1980s to succeed his father, the legendary communist Jimmy Miller, first NUM branch secretary at Kellingley.
Mr Miller, who is now 75, told the Morning Star: “If the miners were the Spartans of the working class, then this was their Thermopylae” — a reference to the legendary handful of Greeks that held off the invading Persian empire.
“There is a difference between dying and murder. Our industry was murdered.”