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SWML - South Wales Miners' Library: The Miners' Strike 1984-1985

Mae'r dudalen hon hefyd ar gael yn Gymraeg

Miners' Strike 1985-1985

2024-2025 marks the 40th anniversary of one of the most significant industrial disputes Britain has ever seen – the 1984-85 Miners' Strike. 

In commemoration of the anniversary, this guide will showcase material held across Swansea University's Special Collections relating to the Miners' Strike, including; 

  • The South Wales Coalfield Collection - an internationally important research resource providing a unique picture of life in the coalfield valleys during the late 19th and 20th centuries. It contains records of trade unions, notably the National Union of Mineworkers (South Wales Area), miners' institutes, co-operative societies, and individuals connected with the mining community. The collection is split across two sites-

You can browse and search contents of the South Wales Coalfield Collection using the Coalfield Web Materials website and the South Wales Coalfield Collection website. 

  • Raissa Page Collection - Raissa became a self-taught documentary photographer after a successful career in social care. Her photography captures the lives of marginalised groups at times of social change during the late 20th century, including the 1984/85 Miners' Strike. She was also a founder member of the trailblazing all-female FORMAT Photographic Agency in the 1980s.

Fernhill Lodge contingent and banner at a demonstration in London during the 1984-1985 Miners' Strike, 24 February 1985. Copyright Norman Burns (Ref. SWCC/PHO/DIS/105)

Gallery - Martin Shakeshaft, Strike 84

Empty chairs outside a colliery with a sign with a skull and crossbones on it.

Copyright: Martin Shakeshaft (Ref. SWCC/PHO/DIS/106)

https://martinshakeshaft.com/strike84/

Two men with sacks of potatoes and tins behind them.

Copyright: Martin Shakeshaft (Ref. SWCC/PHO/DIS/106)

https://martinshakeshaft.com/strike84/

Four people wearing mining helmets with a sign that says ‘coal for Britain not dole for miners’.

Copyright: Martin Shakeshaft (Ref. SWCC/PHO/DIS/106)

https://martinshakeshaft.com/strike84/

Outside of a coal mine.

Copyright: Martin Shakeshaft (Ref. SWCC/PHO/DIS/106)

https://martinshakeshaft.com/strike84/

Group of women holding a sign that says ‘The Maerdy Womens Support Group, your fight is our fight’.

Copyright: Martin Shakeshaft (Ref. SWCC/PHO/DIS/106)

https://martinshakeshaft.com/strike84/

Photographic Collections - Richard Burton Archives

Four women wearing aprons and a child walking forward.

'We made them ourselves' Windhill and Woolley Edge Souper women, members of Barnsley Miners Wives Action Group during 84-85 strike.[Ref. DC3/6/1/120] 

Photograph by Raissa Page. Protected by copyright. Not to be reproduced without permission, please contact Richard Burton Archives 

Photographic collections

  • Martin Shakeshaft Collection: the photographs of Martin Shakeshaft, a photojournalist who covered the 1984-1985 strike, are available to view online, including the Strike84 photo gallery and retrospective Look Back in Anger exhibition. Photographs in the collection include:
    • scenes of demonstrations in which women, children and miners are involved
    • Margaret Thatcher at the Conservative Party Conference
    • Arthur Scargill at the miners' rally in Treorchy and at the TUC Conference in Brighton
    • scenes of violence at Orgreave Coking plant
    • pickets at Port Talbot Steel Works and at Marine Colliery
    • striking miners picking coal from the tips
    • miners wives preparing food packages. (Ref. SWCC/PHO/DIS/106)
  • Strike photographs from the personal collection of Kim Howells: over 150 images showing demonstrations, meetings, picket duty and food distribution for striking miners. Photographs also include covers of newsletters and programmes of events arranged in order to raise funds and support for striking miners. (Ref. SWCC/PHO/PC/9/3)
  • Photograph album presented to South Wales Miners by Southampton Supporters (Ref. SWCC/PHO/DIS/107)
  • Photographs taken by Dutch professional photographer Rob Huibers, in the Rhondda showing valley landscapes and settlements, collieries and coal miners, children, women's groups marching against pit closures and in support of striking miners etc. The communities photographed include Maerdy, Blaenllechau and Ferndale (Ref. SC/713)
  • Raissa Page Collection: the collection includes images taken during the strike (Ref. DC3/6), where documentary photographer Raissa tracked marches and demonstrations across Britain. They include many images of women during the strike as she spent time with miners' wives groups, and also includes some shots taken in and around pits and pit villages in the immediate aftermath (c.1985-1987). The collection also includes a series of images of political demonstrations, industrial disputes and Trade Union activity in the UK (Ref. DC3/24)

Banners Gallery - South Wales Miners' Library

Aberystwyth BAN/52

The front of the banner reads 'Aberystwyth Supports the Miners, Cefnogwch y Glowyr'.

The back reads 'Join Us'.

Image of two hands shaking on a red background. Text reads Aberystwyth supports the miners. Cefnogwch y glowyr.

Neath, Dulais and Swansea Valley Support Group Banner BAN/67

Neath, Dulais and Swansea Valley Support Group. Shoulder to Shoulder

Neath Dulais & Swansea Valley Support Group. Shoulder to Shoulder. Shows a pit wheel, a woman in traditional welsh dress and daffodils

Brent NALGO / Dulais Valley Miners' Banner BAN/28

Slogan: Brent NALGO / Dulais Valley Miners
In the middle is a pair of clasped hands (signifying unity) and in the bottom right-hand corner is a clenched fist.

https://dkou0skpxpnwz.cloudfront.net/accounts/88755/images/brent_nalgo.jpg

Tower Lodge Support Group BAN/55

Banner reads Tower Lodge Support Group. Never underestimate the power of a woman. Red text on a dark back ground. Image of a woman and a miner sitting back to back, supporting each other.

Banner reads Tower Lodge Support Group. Never underestimate the power of a woman. Red text on a dark back ground. Image of a woman and a miner sitting

NUM South Wales Area BAN/17

Slogan: Forward to Socialism / Ymlaen i Sosialaeth
At the top of the banner is a picture of a colliery and the surrounding area, including a public house called The Dragon. Below left is a picture of an old fashioned miner with a miner's lamp and pick. Below right is a modern miner with a mechanical drill and an electric lamp. Between the two miners is a mine. Bottom centre a yellow circle with a miner's lamp, a leek and a colliery winding tower, depicting the emblem of the National Union of Mineworkers, (South Wales Area), which is surrounded by a laurel wreath (back).

1954.

Chichester Labour Party BAN/37

Red banner reading Chichester Labour Party. From 1984 to support the Strike.

Abernant Lodge Banner BAN/2

Slogan: No Slogan
A miner's lamp in a mine with flames underneath it, surrounded by a circle with a black border (both sides).

A miner's lamp in a mine with flames underneath it, surrounded by a circle with a black border (both sides).

Bersham Women's Support Group BAN/50

Text reads 'Bersham Women's Support Group'  There are decorations of the Welsh flag and several badges.

Banners, Posters & Badges at the South Wales Miners Library

Banners

SWML currently holds fifty seven banners in its collection, most of which came from National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) lodges in the South Wales Area. The banners serve as visual symbols of a cohesive class identity within industrial communities. They are regularly loaned out for events, presentations, demonstrations and productions.  Many of the banners were used during the Miners' Strike in demonstrations and marches, although most were created before the strike.  The gallery above included examples from during the 1984-5 Strike. These banners do not belong to the University but have been kindly deposited by the NUM (South Wales Area).

To find out more about the banners visit our online exhibition 'Dawn of a New Era' - https://collections.swansea.ac.uk/s/banner-exhibition/page/welcome

Or visit the South Wales Coalfield Collection website and search the Banners:  https://lisweb.swan.ac.uk/swcc/  ​​​​​​​

Support Group Banners

Support Groups were a key part of the Miners Strike and keeping the action strong. There are several Support Group Banners held in the Miners' Library collection and they include:

BAN/28 - Brent NALGO - Dulais Valley

BAN/52 - Aberystwyth Supports the Miners'

BAN/50 - Bersham Women's Support Group

BAN/38 - London Congress in support of the Mining Communities

BAN/67 - Neath, Dulais and Swansea Valley Support Group

BAN/55 - Tower Lodge Support Group

To find out more go to our exhibition on Breathrough Welsh Women: Support Groups

Posters

Our poster collection includes material from a range of diverse sources and organisations, including 1984-5 Miners' Strike. These provide another visual way to explore the 1984-5 Strike. We also have a collection of NUM and other strike badges which can be found in the Mair Francis and the Ian Isaac Collection.

Posters & Badges

40th Anniversary

Media

Exhibitions 

The South Wales Miners' Library organised an exhibition of the 1984/85 Miners' Strike to mark the 40th anniversary. 

The event was held at the DOVE Workshop during the week of 12th - 15th March 2024.

The exhibition was made up of film, banners, photographs, posters, pamphlets and books, which were supplied from the special collections held at the library.

The event was very well attended and it was wonderful to hear the stories and recollections.


 

 

Left to right: Ann Jones (Tower Lodge Support Group); Sian James MP (Neath, Dulais and Swansea Valley Support Group) and Mair Francis (DOVE Workshop) at the exhibition 13/03/2024.


Miners' Strike 40 online exhibition

The Richard Burton Archives hold a number of images in the South Wales Coalfield Collection which we would love to know more about – so we're looking for your help to fill the gap! We're encouraging visitors to click on the images and record their own reactions and memories.

Archival Material - Richard Burton Archives

  • Correspondence, minutes, receipts and other papers relating to support during the strike, including Abergwynfi and Blaengwynfi Women's Support Group; Ammanford Strike Committe; Gwent Food Fund; Neath and District Miners' Support Group; and Wales Congress in Support of Mining Communities (Ref. SWCC/MND/25/1)
  • David Sutton personal papers: includes material relating to the Rhymey Valley Miners' Support Group which raised many thousands of pounds in cash and food for the families of striking miners (Ref. SWCC/MNC/PP/28)
  • Newsletters, leaflets etc. relating to the 1984-5 Miners' Strike (Ref. SWCC/MND/8/1)
  • Lodge material such as minute books or financial records covering the strike period e.g. Oakdale Navigation Lodge (Ref. SWCC/MNC/NUM/l/25) and Penallta Lodge (Ref. SWCC/MNC/NUM/L/27)
  • National Union of Mineworkers’ (South Wales Area) papers including a pamphlet concerning benefits and entitlements of the striking miners (Ref. SWCC/MNC/NUM/3/19) and minutes of National Executive Committee meeting and report of the Special Delegate Conference, November-December 1984 (Ref. SWCC/MNC/NUM/373)

SWCC/PHO/ED/2/32/41: Neath, Swansea & Dulais Valleys Miners’ Support Group Christmas Card, 1984

Gallery- Women & Protest

Group of women with their arms in the air.

‘Here we go for the women of the working class’, Miners' wives at the 1st National Conference of Women Against Pit Closures, Sheffield, 17 August 1985 (Ref. DC3/6/1/29)

Image by Raissa Page. Protected by copyright. Not to be reproduced without permission, please contact Richard Burton Archives

Group of women sitting holding protest signs with policemen in the background.

Photograph of women protesting against Margaret Thatcher during the 1984/5 strike. Copyright Martin Shakeshaft (https://martinshakeshaft.com/) (Ref. SWCC/DIS/106/39)

'Raising money at Wakefield Miners' Gala 84' (Ref. DC3/6/1/256)

Image by Raissa Page. Protected by copyright. Not to be reproduced without permission, please contact Richard Burton Archives

Women in the struggle: Cynheidre, November 1984

Copyright - Wales Congress in Support of Mining Communities. Contact South Wales Miners Library

Photograph from the personal collection of Kim Howells (Ref. SWCC/PHO/PC/9/3 (31of157)

Audio and Video at the South Wales Miners' Library

The South Wales Miners' Library holds an extensive collection of oral history interviews.

Within that collection is the 1984-85 Miners' Strike Study. The study concentrates on the 1984-85 miners strike, giving unique first-hand accounts of events during and following the strike. The study mainly concentrates on the views of the mining industry - leaders and miners - regarding the outcome of the strike.
(33 Interview)

We also hold:

  •  Audio interviews with union officials, striking miners, Women’s Support Group activists and others. These detail various aspects of the strike, such as the underlying political and industrial context, tactics, fund raising activities, policing, and personal experiences. See in particular, The 1984-85 Miners’ Strike Study (https://lisweb.swan.ac.uk/swcc/audio/strike84.htm), and the Welsh Council for Civil and Political Liberties Study (https://lisweb.swan.ac.uk/swcc/audio/wccpl.htm).
  • Films and video footage relating to the strike. Including documentaries such as Smiling and Splendid Women; interviews with miners, union officials and members of Women’s Support Groups; footage of the NUM Rally at the Afan Lido Sports Centre, Port Talbot, in 1984; and footage of the Trades Union Congress Debate on the Miners’ Strike, 1984. (https://lisweb.swan.ac.uk/swcc/video/video.htm)

 The South Wales Miners’ Library also houses one of the National Library of Wales Clip Corners, featuring broadcast footage from the BBC, ITV and S4C.

Printed Materials

Printed Materials

Sources held elsewhere