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Five men, six days: Pentonville voices


Accounts of events at the Midland Cold Store from one of the Five and two of their supporters.

Micky Fenn (swearing): “It’s Pinky and Perky!” (3:47)

Two police inspectors mocked and chased; the shop stewards restrain their fellow dockers; the spontaneous decision to picket Pentonville.


Ian Olley (swearing): “No way is anyone gonna get nicked here today” (2:43)

Many of the dockers want the arrests to be resisted but the shop stewards decide to let the law take its course.


Tony Merrick: “this . . . feeling of how big this thing was" (1:23)

The police escort "shaking like a leaf" and the van being rocked before departure for Pentonville.


Prison picket scene


The picket of the prison was the hub of campaign operations and grew to be a phenomenon of London life. It was clearly a memorable episode in the lives of these dockers who participated in it.

Colin Coughlin: “this was the biggest thing that’s ever happened to me industrially” (1:59)

The heady atmosphere on the picket, with visitors including Dr Rose Dugdale (active supporter of Irish republicanism), Bernadette Devlin (Irish republican MP) and sight-seers in Rolls Royces.


Maurie Day: “it was electrifying” (1:58)

Sympathisers from all walks of life arrive and dispense refreshments.


Ian Olley (swearing): “it was like a market!” (2:01)

Food and drink stalls spring up in the street; local squatters’ provide hospitality; a bus is stopped and dismantled.


Ian Olley (swearing): “you really thought something was gonna happen” (1:25)

Working-class solidarity rattles the Establishment.


Colin Ross: “five days when . . . this country was turned upside down” (1:26)

The “moving experience” of the picket; squatters’ hospitality; the need for action.


Eddie Prevost: “a lot of things become more clear to you” (2:44)

The dockers’ horizons widened by conflict with the state and by help from squatters, including gay actors.


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