Memories of the Strikes of 1972 and 1984/85

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During lockdown two of our Welcome Volunteers Roger and Ian reflect on difficult times the nation has gone through - particularly going without coal during strikes of the 1970s and 80s.

Meet Roger!

I volunteer as part of the front of house meet and greet team.

I am a retired firefighter with 25 years’ service.

On retirement after injury in the fire service I spent time at Huddersfield University where I gained a degree in History and Politics and a Post Graduate Cert. Ed.

I then became a Further Education and Higher Education lecturer and head of department for 12 years. On my retirement from education, in 2017, I volunteered at the Mining Museum.

For my dissertation at University I researched and presented an in depth analysis of the nationalization of the coal industry in 1947. I use this and some of the experiences, skills, knowledge and challenges gained in the fire service and education to promote conversations with our guests at the museum. This is the most enjoyable part of my volunteering role.

My hobbies are cycling, growing produce on my allotment and visiting the Gym.

Memories of the Strike

I was a young fire fighter serving at Morley Fire Station. From 16th February 1972 the lights went out all over the UK as power stations had to ration the use of coal as stocks were running low. Most domestic property especially in the West Riding were heated by coal or coke. Everybody had to use candles even in offices and shops.

There was no advice given nationally on candle safety. We at the fire station were very busy with many small fires especially in dwellings as a result of misuse or clumsy use of candles. We were called on frequently to give safety advice. I learnt how simple it was to for the public to severely damage their own house with a candle. People were panicking buying candles of all shapes and sizes--- from religious candles to large ornamental candles. Many fires were caused by people tripping up in their homes whilst moving about using a candle or placing a candle on a plastic television surround. Formal candle safety advice eventually became every fire service in the countries policy and in more recent times is on their websites and also HM Government has the same advice on its website.

Meet Ian

I volunteer as part of the welcome team greeting visitors and supporting school groups, I currently fit in volunteering around my work as an engineer. My dad worked as a winder man and I have been working on developing a spotlight talk on the Museum’s own steam winding house.

Memories of the Strike

During the miners strike I was working for BT and my dad was on strike and he had a coal fire and so been short of coal he was burning wood. From work I got him half of a telephone pole that had been damaged and he duly cut it up to use on the fire 

Telephonepoles are pressure treated with creosote and my dad knowing this only used for kindling to get the fire going. His neighbour asked if he could have some so dad gave him some i but told him only to use a small amount because of the creosote. About an hour later the neighbour had the fire brigade there to put out a ferocious chimney fire he had got.



If, like Roger and Ian, you have distinct memories of the strike, feel free to share them with us in the comments below.

Posted in Learn | Heritage | Volunteering


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