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1926: Social Costs of the Mining Dispute

In 1926 the mining dispute led to the General Strike. Chris Wrigley writes how the memory of the hardship of those months has left a permanent legacy of bitterness in industrial relations in the coal industry.

The Subsidised Mineowner - Poor Beggar! From the Trade Union Unity Magazine (1925)From early on in 1984’s long mining dispute, miners' leaders were saying to supporters, 'This strike will not be won on the picket line but by the support committees, which will need to see that the families are fed'. In 1984 the scale of the problem of maintaining those on strike varied greatly from area to area around the country. In Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire, where most miners remained at work, the problem was especially grave as the miners on strike received neither strike pay nor social security benefits. In the Worksop area of Nottinghamshire about 3000 miners were on strike – a huge number for one small town to support. In Leicestershire about thirty men were on strike.

People in mining communities have long memories of past privations. The struggles of 1893, 1912 and 1921 were very much in their minds during the 1926 coal lock-out. The humiliation of 1926 was deeply embedded in the collective memory of the mining communities during the disputes of 1972 and 1974. One elderly ex-miner recently told me, with deep feeling, that he still did not call round to see one of his brothers who had black-legged in 1926.

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