MP unveils miners’ strike memorial

Dave Douglass, Dennis Skinner and Hatfield Colliery Band at the unveiling of the Miners' Strike memorial.
Dave Douglass, Dennis Skinner and Hatfield Colliery Band at the unveiling of the Miners' Strike memorial.

Veteran MP and socialist champion Dennis Skinner has unveiled an unusual Miners’ Strike memorial in Doncaster.

The Bolsover MP visited Hatfield Main to reveal the shattered and crumbling stump of a lamp-post, the remnants of a barricade used to block the lane to the colliery during the bitter 1984-85 Miners’ Strike.

The post, opposite Hatfield Main Club in East Lane, Stainforth, has lain untouched for 30 years and has become a symbol of the year long struggle for local miners.

Mr Skinner, dubbed ‘The Beast of Bolsover’ told more than 100 miners who had braved wet and windy weather to watch the unveiling ceremony, that the memorial should act as a reminder that communities should never forget the conflict.

It saw the National Union of Mineworkers, led by Arthur Scargill, go head to head with Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government over a massive programme of pit closures.

He joked: “In every pit village, there are two halves of a winding wheel - here in Hatfield we’ve got part of a bus stop.

“But I know when I come to places like Hatfield, I am with my own people.

“It gives me great delight to unveil this memorial which will last longer than all those people who fought us in 1984.”

Former Hatfield NUM branch secretary Dave Douglass, who organised picketing for thousands of miners across Doncaster during the strike, also made a passionate speech to the crowds and described the memorial as “a brilliant idea.”

Labour leader and Doncaster North MP Ed Miliband had been invited to the ceremony but did not attend.

A wreath was also laid at the lamp-post, which now features a plaque and flowers to commemorate the struggle, while members of Hatfield Colliery Band also performed, playing ‘miners’ hymn’ Gressford.

The post ‘fell down’ during the fight and Hatfield was the site of ugly scenes with police and miners engaging in bloody clashes outside the pit gates.

Miners later retired to the club for speeches by Barbara Jackson of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign and Sheila Coleman of the Justice for Hillsborough Campaign.

The closure of the Thoresby and Kellingley colleries now leaves Hatfield Main as Britain’s very last remaning deep coal mine.

The first shaft was sunk in 1916 with the second following in 1917 and the pit survived, under the National Coal Board, until 1993 when it was closed down.

However, a management buyout saw it return to production in 1994 before going into receivership in 2001.

It was taken over by ‘King Coal’ Richard Budge and has operated under a number of guises.

It is now in the hands of Hargreaves Services, after 98 years in existence - a remnant of an industry which employed thousands.