It Was 20 Years Ago

It’s more-or’ess twenty years insce the beginning of one of Britain’s most bitter industrial disputes.

While I am on the subject of anniversaries, Friday (5th March) was also the day in 1984 that it was announced Cortonwood pit near Barnsley was to close. The men walked out on strike – some would never go back and, those that did go back wouldn’t go back for a year. The miner’s strike was the moment when things changed for Britain’s workers.

My life in March 1984 was quite different. I would have been 13 years old and the pictures of striking miners, horses charging picket lines and Arthur Scargill’s statements seemed very far away. To a middle-class kid it was another world. Oddly, my granddad had worked for the collieries near Wigan but I have no recollection of his thoughts on the strike at all.

My own world was turned upside down that year. It was the year my father announced the family was all moving to the Midlands and for most of the year that was what pre-occupied me. The striking miners became just another news item.

Looking back, of course, it was much more than that. There were so many changes to the working lives of so many people. Our working lives in the UK today would be very different had the strike not happened.

Related: 1984: The Miner’s Strike at BBC News Online