Morgan’s Object of the Week
As this year marks the 30th anniversary of the miners’ strike, I have chosen a strike-related item as my object of the week.
The 1984-85 miners’ strike was one of the most significant and divisive events in recent British history. It was led by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) who sought to protect jobs and livelihoods from pit closures proposed by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government. The miners’ defeat in 1985 led to the demise of the coal mining industry, reduced political power for unions across all sectors, and strengthened Thatcherism.
This banner was made in the 1970s or ‘80s for the Polkemmet Colliery branch of the NUM and the Scottish Colliery Enginemen, Boilermen and Tradesmen’s Association (SCEBTA). It would have been used during parades, gala days, and, of course, on picket lines and demonstrations during the miners’ strike.
Polkemmet Colliery was the last coal mine in West Lothian. Polkemmet NUM members originally voted against strike action at branch level, but later accepted and supported the majority decision to strike in Scotland. During the industrial action, the Scottish Area of the National Coal Board switched off the power at all pits without safety cover. Polkemmet sustained serious flood damage as a result and never reopened.