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The Miners' strike, 1984-5: Sources at the Modern Records Centre

This subject guide highlights some of the main archive collections at the Modern Records Centre which contain material relating to the 1984-5 Miners' Strike. This is not a comprehensive list but is intended to give a sample of the sort of material held at the Centre - other sources can be found by searching our online catalogue. Examples of ephemera relating to the strike are included in our online exhibition 'King Coal'.

Trade Unions:

Trades Union Congress (MSS.292D)

The TUC collection includes 20 subject files specifically relating to the miners' strike of 1984-5 (MSS.292D/253.145/1-20). These include correspondence and other papers regarding financial assistance to the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) from the TUC and other trade unions, and support for the strike from overseas unions.

The TUC archive also includes files from this period relating to the 'Mining Industry: Coking Coal' (MSS.292D/603/3), 'Fuel and Power Policy' (MSS.292D/603.7/10 and MSS.292D/603.7/11), the railway unions and the transport of coal supplies by rail (MSS.292D/653/3), and minutes and papers of the TUC Fuel and Power Industries Committee (MSS.292D/603.78/12 and MSS.292D/603.78/13).

Transport and General Workers' Union (MSS.126)

The TGWU was heavily involved in the miners' strike, as its members drove the lorries which transported the coal and unloaded imported coal at the docks. It also had many members in open cast mines, which were not affected by the strike but which Arthur Scargill strenuously opposed as "taking jobs" from deep pit miners. The TGWU generally supported the miners, but struggled to make the case for open cast mining as well.

The TGWU archive includes 7 files of correspondence, publications, reports, statements and other material specifically relating to the miners' strike of 1984-5 (MSS.126/TG/1395/5/1-5); and 2 files of correspondence, publications and papers regarding the NUM during this period (MSS.126/TG/1395/3).

Prior written permission to consult almost all unpublished records in the TGWU archive is required. Contact the Modern Records Centre for further information.

National Union of Seamen (MSS.175)

The NUS archive includes 5 files on the miners' strike of 1984-5 (MSS.175A/164-168). The files include correspondence relating to a levy for NUM members, with overseas miners' and seamen's unions, branches and companies, and re forms of union support for the strike; as well as publications, NUS press releases, NUM briefing papers, press cuttings, and papers regarding support meetings and events (including a miners' wives benefit concert).

Coventry Trade Union Council (formerly Coventry Trades Council) (MSS.5)

The archive includes correspondence files from the period of the miners' strike, including several which contain minutes and other papers produced by the Coventry Strike Support Committee (MSS.5/3/110 and MSS.5/3/112).

Union of Communication Workers

The UCW commissioned a video called 'In support of the miners' (MSS.148/UCW/5/13/D/1) in which speeches to the UCW conference by Jack Taylor, President of the Yorkshire NUM, and Alan Tuffin, UCW General Secretary (cut with photographs of scenes from the dispute) are followed by comments by conference delegates - click on the link above to view the video.

Political and pressure groups:

Militant (601)

The Militant collection includes publications and other material relating to the miners' strike, including a complete run of the newspaper 'Militant' for 1984-5 (601/C/5/5/15 and 601/C/5/5/16); 'Militant Miner' bulletins, pamphlets and leaflets (601/C/5/7/10); 'Militant Kentwomen' NUM pamphlet, [1984?] (601/C/5/12/6/21); regional and national leaflets and circulars (601/H/4/8/2); a correspondence file on the strike in the papers of Terry Field MP (601/P/2/5/7); and a file on the 1984 Labour Party conference in the papers of Pat Wall MP (601/Q/1/12).

Radical Alternatives to Prison (MSS.110)

Radical Alternatives to Prison (RAP) was set up in 1970 by a group of ex-prisoners and people connected with the prison service. RAP, a pressure and information group, called for the abolition of prison and aimed to research and propose alternatives to prison.

'The Abolitionist', the quarterly journal of RAP, included articles on miners as political prisoners during the period of the 1984-5 miners' strike.


Papers of Sir George Pope (MSS.271)

George Pope was born in 1902. He became General Manager of 'The Times', 1965-7, and was a Director of Times Newspapers Ltd., 1967-76. He was also a member of the Newspaper Proprietors' Association, 1938-79.

Pope's papers include over 350 files on the miners' strike of 1984-5. The majority are "Information papers" - a chronological series of daily files consisting principally of press cuttings and printed ephemera (MSS.271/S/1/1-300). The collection also includes 53 subject files containing similar material (MSS.271/S/2/1-53) - the subjects are varied but include: coal picking and deaths, Cortonwood, court cases, effects of the strike on mining communities, the media, key figures in the dispute, the National Coal Board, the NUM, Nottinghamshire, the police, and the involvement of women in the strike.

Papers of Geoffrey Goodman, journalist, author and broadcaster (1295)

At the time of the 1984-5 miners' strike Geoffrey Goodman (1922-2013) was a columnist and industrial editor for the 'Daily Mirror', having previously worked for the 'Manchester Guardian', 'News Chronicle', 'Daily Herald' and its successor the 'Sun'. He was also a member of the Royal Commission on the Press, 1974-1977, and joint author of the Minority Report and head of the government's Counter-Inflation Publicity Unit, 1975-1977. Goodman received the Gerald Barry Award for Journalism, 1984-1985, and was founding editor of 'British Journalism Review', 1989-2002. He was appointed a CBE in 1998 for services to journalism.

In 1985 Geoffrey Goodman wrote the book 'The Miners' Strike', published by Pluto Press. His archives include 25 files of research material collected for the publication, together with draft chapters of the publication.

Papers of Rodney Bickerstaffe, trade union leader 

Rodney Bickerstaffe (1945-2017) became General Secretary of the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE) in 1981. On NUPE's merger to form Unison in 1993 he became Associate General Secretary and then General Secretary of the new union.

The collection includes several files relating to the 1984-5 miners' strike, including material relating to NUPE, photographs of activities in support of the miners, and recordings of broadcasts.

Papers of John Lyons, trade union leader (1183)

John Lyons (1926-2016) became general secretary of the Electrical Power Engineers’ Association (EPEA) in 1973 and of the Engineers’ and Managers’ Association on its formation in 1977, holding both posts until his retirement in 1991. He was also secretary of the Electricity Supply Trade Union Council from 1976, joint secretary of the National Joint Co-ordinating Committee of the Electricity Supply Industry, 1980-1990, and of the National Joint Negotiating Committee of the Electricity Supply Industry, 1980-1986. He was elected to the General Council of the Trades Union Congress in 1983 and was awarded the CBE in 1986.

Lyons's archive includes House of Commons and Trades Union Congress papers, press cuttings, correspondence and extracts from EPEA minutes relating to the 1984-5 miners’ strike. A draft of a planned book on his trade union career also includes a chapter on the strike called 'Loss without limit'.

Papers of Frank Chapple, trade union leader (MSS.387)

Frank Chapple retired from the leadership of the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunication and Plumbing Union (EETPU) in 1984.

The collection includes correspondence, notes and press cuttings concerning opposition to the strike (MSS.387/6/CH/115); letters for and against Chapple's stance on the strike, speech notes and other records (MSS.387/6/CH/116); and copies of articles regarding the strike (MSS.387/6/CH/39).

Researchers wishing to see these records should contact the Centre in advance of any visit. Any request to publish information from the records must be referred to the depositor through the Modern Records Centre.

Papers of Eric Hammond, trade union leader (832)

Eric Albert Barrett Hammond (1929-2009) succeeded Frank Chapple as General Secretary of the EETPU in 1984. He caused controversy in the union movement and was accused of being 'right wing' when he introduced 'no strike' agreements with employers and refused to support the NUM in its lengthy strike in 1984. He was also heavily involved in the Wapping dispute and sided with News International by helping to run the new plant. During his leadership the suspension of the EETPU from the TUC took place.

The collection includes a file on the 1984-5 miners' strike (832/Box 1/1) and other material relating to trade union ballots and legislation, and 'No strike' agreements.

Papers of Nigel (Nog) Clark, International Socialists and Socialist Workers Party (MSS.489)

Nigel Clark joined the International Socialists in 1971. He was a member of branches in Swansea and Coventry, although the bulk of his involvement came in Sheffield. By 1984 his political activites concerned the Maltby National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), and coal and steel issues in the Rotherham area. He left the SWP in 1988.

Clark's papers include two files of bulletins, circulars and ephemera from this period (MSS.489/14 and MSS.489/15)

Research papers:

Coal and Community: research papers of Professor Charles Critcher [Qualidata] (MSS.371)

Professor Charles Critcher was a senior staff member in the Department of Communication Studies, School of Cultural Studies, at Sheffield Hallam University. The material consists mainly of files containing interview transcriptions. The research was carried out as a comparative study of three mining communities, Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, following the 1984-1985 Miners' Strike. Interviews were carried out with British Coal employees and their families, politicians and members of the police, clergy, and welfare services.

Researchers are required to sign a form at the Modern Records Centre agreeing to the access conditions:
-recontacting the informants is prohibited without the permission of the depositor
-identifying information contained in the research material may not be quoted (eg names, addresses)
-users undertake not to quote, disseminate or make use of any identifying information in the material
-no photocopying without prior permission of the depositor


The Industrial Society (MSS.303)

The Society's principal activities were in the field of personnel management. In particular it conducted many training courses and produced a wide variety of publications. In doing so it endeavoured to avoid a partisan or anti-union approach.

The collection includes press cuttings (MSS.303/AR17/B), publications and ephemera, etc. (MSS.303/AR17/C), and interviews with / speeches by the IS Director John Garnett about the strike (MSS.303/AR25/E and MSS.303/AR25/F).

Miscellaneous collection (MSS.21)

Various publications and items of ephemera are included within this collection, including material relating to the miners' strike in the West Midlands (MSS.21/1655/208, MSS.21/2118 and MSS.21/3487).


National Union of Mineworkers fact sheet on the strike