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This report is taken from PN Review 223, Volume 41 Number 5, May - June 2015.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams
Today, 4 March 2015, is the thirtieth anniversary of the end of the year-long 1984–85 Miners’ Strike. It is not celebrated, because the miners were defeated, but it is remembered, bitterly, in the pit villages. How long do folk memories last? When I was young, older generations at least still spoke of the strikes of 1910–11 and 1926, which brought untold suffering to the coalfield and ended with the miners worse off in terms of pay and conditions than they were before. But most of the pits were still there, and most of the miners were allowed back to work. Coal remained vital to industry, even if much of it came as cheap imports from abroad, and more vital than ever during the Second World War, as my boyhood memories of Gilfach Goch’s three pits working round the clock remind me. When the 1984–85 strike ended, here and there miners returned to the surviving collieries led by brass bands, holding union banners aloft. It was a last, muted, hurrah: they had lost the battle with government, establishment and media, and knew closures would follow, though they did not guess the scale of the programme, nor the speed with which it would be implemented. In the aftermath, the mining communities of south Wales, summarily stripped of purpose, have been devastated. The response of government has been a shrug of the shoulders: ‘Too bad. Stuff happens’. Will the memory of this last defeat endure? Not for long, I suspect, because evidence of mining activity has largely been swept ...


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