The Coal War: Women’s Struggle during the Miners’ Strike

Part of the Women in Society book series (WOSO)


Britain has no female mineworkers, yet women became the driving force behind the miners’ strike of 1984–85. The media portrayed these women as the supportive wives and daughters of miners, dutifully performing a domestic role that enabled their men to maintain the strike. Women were shown mainly carrying out activities associated with the soup kitchen and, at times, standing ‘behind their men’ on the picket line. In this chapter, I challenge this view of women acting only in a supportive capacity to their men. It is true that some women limited their participation to the practical and domestic sphere, but others became more actively involved in the political scene than some of the men. Furthermore, as the strike progressed, women developed new insights: they came to regard the strike as their own struggle, rather than one they backed solely out of loyalty to their menfolk. I examine here this awakening of women’s awareness to wider issues and its implications for the future.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Beynon, Huw (ed.) (1985) Digging Deeper: Issues in the Miners’ Strike (London: Verso).Google Scholar
  2. Bloomfield, Barbara (1985) ‘Maerdy Women’s Support Group’, unpublished thesis, Ruskin College, Oxford.Google Scholar
  3. Campbell, Beatrix (1984) ‘The Other Miners’ Strike’ New Statesman 27 July, pp. 8–10.Google Scholar
  4. Evans, D. (1984) ‘King Coal’s Other FaceThe Guardian, 4 April, p. 10.Google Scholar
  5. Francis, Hywel (1985) ‘Mining, the Popular Front’, Marxism Today, vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 12–15.Google Scholar
  6. Freeman, M. (1985) Our Day Will Come: The MinersFight for Jobs (London: Junius Publications).Google Scholar
  7. Harwood, Carole (1985) ‘A Woman’s Place …’ in WCCPL & NUM, pp. 25–30.Google Scholar
  8. Heath, Tony (1985) ‘The Miner’s Wife Who Found Her Voice and Spread the Word’ The Guardian, 5 June, p. 14.Google Scholar
  9. Kendall, T. and Norden, B. (1985) ‘What Did You Do during the Strike, Mum?’ Spare Rib no. 151.Google Scholar
  10. North Yorkshire Women Against Pit Closures (1985) Strike84–85 (Leeds: North Yorkshire Women Against Pit Closures).Google Scholar
  11. Reed, David and Adamson, Olivia (1985) Miners’ Strike 1984–1985: People versus State (London: Larkin Publications).Google Scholar
  12. Rose, Hilary (1984) ‘The Miners’ Wives of Upton’ New Society, vol. 70, no. 1145, pp. 326–29.Google Scholar
  13. Sweeney, Anne-Marie (1985) ‘The Oxford Women’s Support Group’ in Oxford Miners Support Group, The Miners’ Strike in Oxford (Oxford: Oxford and District Trade Unions Council), pp. 67–91.Google Scholar
  14. Vallely, Paul (1985) ‘The Strike that Turned Wives into Warriors’ The Times 4 March, p. 10.Google Scholar
  15. WCCPL NUM (Welsh Campaign for Civil and Political Liberties and National Union of Mineworkers, South Wales Area) (1985) Striking Back (Cardiff: Cymric Federation Press).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Moiram Ali 1986

Authors and Affiliations

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations