Silverwood Logo by John Doxey background photo Mick Carver1900 - 1994

Dedicated to the Miners of Silverwood

History of the Mine

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Silverwood Mine

Hollings Lane

Thrybergh

South Yorkshire England

Webmaster John Doxey

Main Photos Jonathan Dabs.

Additional content Mick Carver

 

 

 

 

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Dalton

THE 1984 STRIKE

 

Miners picket line at Silverwood copyright Jonathan Dabs

 

The 1984 strike was to be a terrible episode in the history of not only Silverwood and other mines, but also for the whole British Isles, and it has to be remembered the Miners were not fighting for more money, they were fighting for their livelihood. The tactics used against them were what one would expect from a third World Police State, not from the leaders of an elected Government in a democratic Country.

A lot of basic human rights were taken from the miners and their families at this time. So prepared were the Government that the funds available for striking miners were seized and though the strike money was not received by families it was still deducted from their government allowances. The right to travel freely throughout the British Isles was removed, and even non Miners were often taken into custody simply for being mistaken for miners.
At Manton Colliery - a pit geographically in Nottinghamshire but within the Yorkshire coalfield - a heated meeting of more than 1,000 miners on the Saturday before the year-long strike was to commence voted against stopping work. But when flying pickets from Rotherham's Silverwood pit arrived on the Monday morning, not one miner crossed the line.
If the miners thought they were in a protest campaign they soon learned that  their opponents regarded it as war. If your knowledge of this time is what you gained from newspapers I suggest you read further and gain the true facts, for this was a cold blooded assault on the workers and their families. The comradeship of some of the miners was shown by men like David Whitehead who despite the fact he had taken voluntary redundancy prior to the strike, joined his mates on the picket line.

It is sad to say that some miners worked on through the strike, and they were known as Scabs.  In the aftermath of the strike these men were shunned by their co-workers, to the extent that many of the scabs moved to areas where they were not known rather than face the scorn each day. Often pressure from wives was the reason for going into work, which of course left these men between the Devil and the deep blue sea.
There was a great deal of kindness and good will towards the striking Miners from the local Communities, and also local Shopkeepers like Fosters of Thrybergh.

 

 

 

The two badges shown here were sold as fund raisers during the strike to raise money to feed strikers and their families

 

 


Mandy Haughton daughter of Oswin Wright of Sunnyside remembers:- During the Strike my mother Agnes Wright made bread and Stew, and some of the miners going on picket duty would pop in for a quick bite, sad but also good old times. A lot of people knew the Wright Brothers and mi dad.

 

Arthur Critchlow who worked at Silverwood had the charges made against him dropped after being charged at  the riot at Orgreave Coking Plant on 18th June 1984.

 

Dave and Kevin Boyle also miners at Silverwood pit after the strike described in an  interview  how they were arrested. They also alleged  police misconduct, and also described prison conditions.

 

Jon Rosling recalls I have some very vivid memories of the area from my childhood. I can remember Roy Grunwell laying out about four policemen during the miner’s strike. My cousin and I watched from behind the shower block as he flattened them. The presence of the police on Sunnyside during the strike is also a great memory. The telephone lines were all tapped.


Faye Valentine Conlin-Philip Valentine's daughter recalls I remember as a child singing on my dads shoulders on the picket line I'd rather be a picket than a scab and cole not dole.

 

Lynda Napper : I have vivid memories of the 1984 strike, the riots and army of Metropolitan Police that would sweep past our house on a regular basis. I grew up on The Crescent East in the house formerly owned by the Hartles featured on your site. I regularly stayed at a friends house on Hollings Lane and saw first hand the charging of the Mounted Police and the hostility between the two groups. 

 



In 1985 during the strike a miner had to be rescued on the tip, he was looking for coal and accidentally got buried alive.


Bruce Wilson of Silverwood recalls "One thing I will never forget, Orgreave, don't know what day, but it haunts me, being chased by riot police, I was 29 and fit. I came to an elderly miner, flat cap, gabardine coat on, you can visualise him. knelt down on one knee, out of  breath, literally gasping for air. I stopped, asked him if he was o.k. what a daft question, a hot day and dressed like that. Riot police hot on our heels, I wouldn't leave him, I said come on owd lad their not taking any prisoners today, he knew what I meant, he struggled up I held him, when the riot police got too close I had to leave him. I hoped they'd got the decency to leave this man alone, they did and carried on chasing me, I didn't mind that at all, this elderly miner must have been in his mid 50,s then, to Men like that we must pay tribute. to this day I don't even know his name, his kids would have been proud.

 

 

Despite the situation the strike was not without humour and the following events took place at Silverwood

 

From the website

http://www.endangeredphoenix.com/So%20Near%20pt%205.html

 

On the 28th September 1984 half a mile from Silverwood colliery, where just 2 scabs had returned to work, a convoy of cop vans are stopped by a 3 foot high barricade and are surrounded by pickets. The press and the cops refer to this as a "diabolical ambush". "Striking Times", a one-off radical paper set the following competition:
 

Striking Times Diabolical Competition

All you have to do is decide what truly happened in the so-called 'Diabolical Ambush' at Silverwood Colliery on 28th September. Was it:
(a). 9 police dog vans and a cop Range Rover were attacked by 700 miners acting on the direct instructions of the NUM leadership? (Home Office version)

(b). 2 dog vans were overturned and one dog handler was knocked over, his dog escaping to attack both pickets and cops (Guardian, 29th September).

(c). 500 pickets plus their cars were attacked by 1,500 police in riot gear? (Sheffield Police Watch version).

(d). Up to 3000 pickets threw stones at police vehicles and at pickets' own cars by mistake? (Police version)


(e). Miners had finally had enough of being continually on the receiving end of police violence and harassment. The miners acted on their own initiative, not the NUM leaderships, according to the old saying "Attack is the best form of defence" (Striking Times version)


(f). Other journalistic lies and distortions?

Send your answers to Striking Times along with a cheque for £5. Please include a statement using not more than eight four-letter words on the role of the British Bobby in industrial disputes.
The lucky winner of this competition will win a cheque for £2.50p.

 

In 2005 Bruce Wilson was interviewed by a researcher regarding the strike and Bruce recalled the above incident.

"Near t bottle-neck bridge there was three or four police vans and some of the Doncaster lads came out o woods and they were kitted up with baseball bats and everything and they put a barricade up and when t Bobbies (police officers) stopped they went to town on em . They give them a good hiding and t police dogs were so confused they started biting some o Bobbies. I think it was acceptable because when we started off I found it hard to believe some of the things we were coming across. They (the police) could give us a good hiding and hit you at t back o head with their truncheons and lock you up, you had no rights, your own country was turning on you so I mean anything's acceptable .


Superintendent Kevin Doyle was in charge at Silverwood that day and he recalled that the officers involved were so shaken up that they wanted revenge on the pickets but he grounded them inside the colliery.

 

TO THE SPIRIT OF THE REBEL SNOWMAN

 

The Miners of Silverwood, having been told they were confined to six pickets only, built themselves a seventh comrade in the shape of a large snowman, wearing for good measure a plastic policeman's helmet.
Next morning, Chief Inspector Nesbitt appears on the scene and seeing the jeering miners and their steely eyed companion, ordered the constables to knock it down . This order brought rebellion to the police ranks as PCs declined to, "look so $%&^* stupid knocking down a snowman". "Very well," shouts the irate Nesbitt, jumping in his Range Rover and charging off to demolish the snowman, as pickets ran laughing for cover.
Maybe it was a trick of the light, or maybe a twinkle glistened in the icy countenance on the snowman's fixed expression - we shall never know, as the Range Rover made contact and came to a dead stop, smashing front grill, bumper and headlamps and hurling the shocked Nesbitt into the steering wheel. PCs found excuses to walk away or suppress body shaking laughter while pickets fell about on the ground with side splitting mirth. The snowman had been constructed around a three foot high two foot thick concrete post!
From the book :- All power to the imagination! Written by Dave Douglass who very kindly gave his permission to use the above story on this site. Dave is a very active writer, and Trade Union man. Visit the site run by Dave Douglas and Adge Covell to see more of Daves work .

 MINERS ADVICE PAGES

[ Many thanks Dave and Adge from John ]

Video  Learning on the Line: The Politics of the Miners Strike.

Yet another item regarding Silverwood on sale at ebay at time of writing 2006.
  Produced in 1985 by ‘Films at Work’ the video takes a look at the Striking Miners and the politics behind the strike action at the Silverwood Colliery in South Yorkshire. 
It features both action and interviews with miners, miner’s families, union officials and many others. 
Interviews include Arthur Critchlow (Smallwood NUM -National Union for Mineworkers), Mac O’Connell (Deputy Imperial FOC of NGA Financial Times), Simon Hester (Vice-Chairman NUR Frinsbury Park), Sarah Miller (NALGO Shop Steward Camden Council), Ruth Colyer (ASTMS Representative from Barts Hospital), Mick Daffin (T&G Shop Steward at West Thurrock Power Station, Anne Lilburn, Dave Hatt (Branch Secretary of NUR Frinsbury Park), Steve Hammill (Silverwood NUM), Robert O’Neil (South West NUM), John Steeden (South West NUM), Paul Boyle (South West NUM), Garry Cowley (South West NUM) and Bill Hodge (T&G Shop Steward of West Thurrock Power Station).

 

 

 

 

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