Orgreave - 35 Years Later

Posted on by Anita O'Donovan

Tuesday 18th June 2019 marks the 35th anniversary of the Battle of Orgreave - a confrontation between pickets and police at Orgreave coking plant that became known as one of the most violent confrontations in British history.

Commonly referred to as 'The Battle of Orgreave', the event came amidst high tensions during the 1984-85 miners strike, resulting in over 120 injuries of both strikers and police officers.

The above image titled Without Fear or Favour, taken by Martin Pick, shows a prominant scar on the back of Arthur Critchlow's head. Arthur alleges that the scar is a result of an injury sustained due to being hit by a truncheon wielded by a mounted police officer during the Battle of Orgreave.

Below is an oral history from a police officer who was present during the build up to the clash, describing the atmosphere at the site:

So as light broke and the first lot of lorries were coming in with coal, things would get really heated. And you would get a large crowd of men herded into one place and they would suddenly decide this is it, and they would rush. Big area, massive fields on a gentle uphill slope. And we had lines 10 deep of policemen, shields at the front but 10 or 12 policemen behind, perhaps 100 or 150 feet long to prevent these people from getting in front of the lorries, to allow the lorries to come in with the coal. And lot of injuries, lots of things being thrown. I remember on one occasion, I was about 8 back thinking what the hell am I doing here, and there were bosses with mega phones and they were shouting 'break, break, break' and the police horses would be coming through. And I remember seeing about 20 police horses, line a breast, at the canter, coming towards us. And the first thing you got was the vibration in your feet and you looked round and this ton and a half of meat were coming towards you. And I’m like, I’m getting out of the way. And you used to dive for cover, whilst all this stuff was raining down on you, bricks and bottles and then the horses would come charging through … and of cause they all just, it was a starburst, everybody ran backwards just wherever, wherever you could seek a refuge, but it was an open field there was nothing, nowhere to hid apart from going through hedges in to the next field. 100s and 100s of men just scattering for cover, and women as well." 

In memory of the event, feel free to share your experiences, either if you were present or if you remember witinessing it through the press - we always love to hear people's stories.



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