The 1984-1985 miners` strike had seen the development of women's activism in coal mining communities across the country. The community-based groups came together to form Women against Pit Closures (WAPC) which developed a national support network. This enabled women to operate in a supportive environment, share experiences and learn new skills. After the end of the strike in 1985, the WAPC continued to function to offer mutual support and to continue to fight further pit closures.
The decision to continue to show solidarity was vindicated when the Government announced the proposed closure of a further 31 pits in October 1992 in what The Guardian called ‘the most savage redundancy programme to be inflicted on British industry'.
At that time Parkside Colliery in Newton-le Willows directly employed nearly 800 people with more local jobs dependent on the pit. It was one of the most modern, efficient and profitable collieries in Britain and had an estimated working life of over 25 years and 23 million tonnes of proven reserves. It was also the remaining pit in Lancashire.
Nationally, WAPC planned the setting up of Pit Camps to illustrate that pit closures were not just about jobs, but the community as a whole. Such a tactic was influenced by the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp and enabled women in mining communities to demonstrate the strength of feeling in local communities and maintain the national profile of the opposition to the pit closure programme.
The camp at Parkside Colliery attracted significant local and regional support as well as a significant national media profile. Despite the very significant levels of support the Lancashire Women against Pit Closures had to endure much intimidation and hardship. The occupation ended in August 1994 when the process of dismantling the pit had gone beyond recovery.
The Library has material which shows the twenty months of struggle, including minutes, accounts, correspondence, press cuttings and publicity material. In addition, there are items which bring to life the struggle: videos, photographs and poetry as well as the large wonderfully designed banner.
For a guide to the archive contents look in our catalogue.
Related Object of the Month
March 2011: International Women's Day centenary