Bristol Miners Support Group 1984/85

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In the last few weeks, people have been looking back to the 1984/5 miners’ strike, and celebrating the tremendous solidarity shown by National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) members to sustain their fight to protect jobs and communities.  The strike provoked a wave of solidarity from people across the UK that helped to sustain the striking miners. It also had an impact on levels of political organisation more generally.  Many younger activists became more confident and developed organisational skills that fed into other campaigns, notably the anti-poll tax movement of the late 1980s. Women played a major role in both the miners’ support groups and the campaign against nuclear weapons that grew in the early 1980s.

Bristol Miners Support Group was formed on 11th April 1984 at a meeting in Central Hall, Old Market (now converted to flats).  The initiative had been taken by Bristol West Constituency Labour Party at its meeting in St Barnabas School, Montpelier on 22nd March, which was addressed by Len Jones and Ivor England of the South Wales NUM. Bristol West CLP Trade Union Liaison Officer Mike Eaude proposed a motion that was agreed (reproduced below), and in the weeks that followed, meetings were held at other places, including Windmill Hill, Clevedon and Bath.

Bristol Trades Council met on 28th March at Transport House (now Tony Benn House) and agreed to its support for the strike after hearing from Ray Buckton (General Secretary of rail union (ASLEF) and Terry Thomas (South Wales NUM).  Then, a packed meeting of the Bristol District Labour Party on 2nd April, with Dawn Primarolo in the chair, agreed:

“That this D.L.P. fully supports the National Union of Mineworkers in their current dispute with the National Coal Board over pit closures. We support the right of Trade Unionists to organise, strike and picket in furtherance of their claim in an industrial dispute.

We resolve therefore to fully endorse the building of a solidarity campaign in the Bristol area, which would coordinate the work of the Labour Parties in both financial and political support of the miners. The basis of such a campaign would offer support to the NUM not only in their struggle against pit closures but also in their attempts to operate freely and effectively as a trade union, even if this means opposing or breaking the Tories’ trade union legislation.”

The whole Labour movement in Bristol pulled together to support the striking miners.  The general Secretary of South Wales NUM wrote to thank those in Bristol who had responded to their call for support.  In his reply on 4th April Mike Eaude said “ we don’t want your thanks as it is ourselves too we are fighting for.  What we do want to know is your needs, so if someone can come on 11th April that will be excellent news.”

The Bristol Miners Support Group was formally set up at the meeting in Central Hall on 11th April, with Avon County Councillor Dawn Primarolo, Donald McLaren (Chair of Bristol West CLP), Ron Thomas (MP for Bristol North West from 1974 to 1979) and Mike Eaude among the members of its steering group. As a report from Bristol West CLP to its members (see below) noted, it raised over £150,000 in cash and kind in its first few months. Bristol West CLP agreed to ‘twin’ itself with Penrhiwceiber Colliery in South Wales from June 1984, and members made weekly visits to take food and other items and show support.

If you were involved in the Bristol Miners Support Group and want to share any thoughts or memories about it, please contact or post comments on this site.


  1. I was a student in Newcastle during the miner’s strike (so involved in support Northumbrian pits), I remember when I returned home in the holidays, local councillor Del Herod would send me out fly posting for collections around Hartcliffe and for an event which from memory was held in the Hartcliffe Community Centre

    • Thanks Paul. If you’ve still got any flyers, photos or other material from the Hartcliffe collections get in touch. Hedley

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