Queen Coal? Why Remember Women of the 1984/85 Miners' Strike
The Aftermath of the Miners' Strike for Women
The extracts below are from interviews recorded with 47 miners' wives who were active in the 'Women Against Pit Closures' movement. The interviews are held in the Women's Library, London in The Betty Heathfield Papers.
On the same wavelength:
"When they were at work before, we used to think Ďpoor buggers, going down thereí. But I think now, Iíd say it improved a lot of marriages because you can sit and talk and youíre on the same wavelength. Whereas before my husband would come home and say something about the coalface and you wouldn't know what he was talking about. Boring. But now youíre on the same wavelength and you can sit down and talk. I think itís done a lot of marriages good."
Finding a voice:
"Before the strike, I've always felt as I do now. But because he was on strike I though youíre not going to keep telling me what to do. I believe I'm right so Iíll go and do it [ . . .] My marriage has changed, but not for the better. For the worst. Because my husband resents the fact that I feel that I can do what I want to do.
"He still feels that I should do things that concern him all the time. He really resents me doing what I want to do. We will still have these arguments for the rest of my married life if it lasts that long. [. . .] I wonder if heís just jealous. I can speak at meetings and my husband just canít do that. He just canít get up in front in people and speak."
Discovering wider issues:
"Women have become aware of a wider political arena. They know what itís like in Northern Ireland. Those police have been trained over there and use their tactics on us here. To keep us down. They realise that the black communities in London have been harassed for years and years and years by the police and they know what itís like now themselves. So in one sense this strike has been the best thing thatís happened because itís woke you up to other peopleís problems instead of your own . . . "
Download the document 'Women's Work' to read more women's experiences of their families and communities during the 1984/85 Miners' Strike (see Download link below).