Queen Coal? Why Remember Women of the 1984/85 Miners' Strike
The extracts below are from interviews recorded with 47 miners wives who were active in the 'Women Against Pit Closures' movement. The interviews are transcribed and held in the Women's Library, London in a collection called The Betty Heathfield Papers.
"We were a one parent family. Coping like a one parent family. We were without husbands. The kids were without fathers. But we managed to survive keeping our homes together for the men when they came home. About three weeks before the end of the strike they cut my money again. While I was receiving £26.00 they thought it was too much . . . I was receiving £19.55 for myself and two kids. That’s all. That was Supplementary Benefit. . . You would grasp a bag of chips and all you would survive on was a bag of chips – all day. [. . .] The worst part of the strike to me was the build up to Christmas. People had to be co-opted onto this toy committee. I wouldn’t have done their job. Not for the world. But somebody had to do it. They were repairing toys. They’d say ‘We mended a doll’s house today’ or ‘We washed a doll’ or ‘We repaired an Action man’. And I though ‘my God, how are we going to give every child a toy?’ But out of the blue, to me there was a Christmas. Because to me Father Christmas came that Christmas. Because if you’d seen the joy in those kids faces . . . I cried and I cried and I cried. To see the joy on parents and children’s faces that Christmas."
Download the worksheet on 'Money' to read more women's experiences of their families and communities during the 1984/85 Miners' Strike.
Read about money in Post-War mining communities
Read about money for Victorian mining women