The BBC and Miners’ Strikes

Writer and producer Tony Garnett presents the key-note speech at With Banners Held High, a day-long event remembering the 1984/85 miners’ strike, held at Unity Works, Wakefield, Saturday 5 March 2016.

‘I want to rehearse some history, history familiar to everyone here, history showing a remarkable similarity between the miners’ battle with the Tory government in 1926 and in 1984. I want to do this as a way to analyse the true role of the BBC. And why that is politically important.’

Tony Garnett is introduced by Ian Clayton.

>>Click here for a full transcript of this speech
>>Click here for Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign website

RIP Pete Waddington

Pete Waddington (right) with the 1963 haul of trophies for Fryston Colliers FC

Pete Waddington (right) with the 1963 haul of trophies for Fryston Colliers FC

We are very sorry to report news of the death of Pete Waddington. He died on Wednesday 27 May 2015. Pete is the father of Professor Dave Waddington and the inspiration for the book Coal, Goals and Ashes. Pete captained the Fryston Colliery team to victory in the WRCC Cup in 1963 and the book is a loving tribute to this great achievement – by Pete, his colleagues and the whole village of Fryston.

The funeral takes place at the Holy Cross church, Airedale, at 1-45 on 17 June 2015.

>>Click here to see a trailer for Coal, Coals and Ashes
>>Click here to see the 50th anniversary presentation ceremony for the heroes of 1963

Wisdom of Our Own

The Best Thing To Come Out of The Miners’ Strike

We were always singing and chanting during the strike. It made us feel part of something, that we were all together as women. There was one song that was very special to all of us. It was written by the musician Mal Finch and it’s called ‘Women of the Working Class’. Every time Mal went to meetings and rallies she got up on the platform to sing and we all joined in. After thirty years I can still remember that song word for word. There’s a lovely verse in it that says, ‘Don’t need anyone to tell us, what to think or say, we’ve strength enough and wisdom of our own.’ These words meant a lot to us and we loved to sing along.

The thirty-year commemoration of the end of the miners’ strike also marks the thirtieth anniversary of the birth of Castleford Women’s Centre. A new book, Wisdom of Our Own, tells the remarkable story a group of working-class women who, empowered by the Women Against Pit Closures movement, built an award-winning community learning centre on their own doorstep.

Told in a series of linked anecdotes by nearly one hundred people, Wisdom of Our Own celebrates thirty years of living and learning since the miners’ strike. It’s a heart-warming, grass-roots tale of how a group of women rebuilt community spirit by encouraging people to learn. Some people say that the centre was ‘the best thing to come out of the strike’.

From serving soup to hungry miners’ families to offering degree courses to eager learners, Wisdom of Our Own is a story of hope, positivity, fighting back and doing something useful.

Wisdom of Our Own
Compiled by Ian Clayton and Margaret Rose Handforth

Exclusive Hardback Edition
This edition will not be available through bookshops. Available exclusively from Castleford Community Learning Centre or Route Publishing. £10 + P&P.  Click here to place an online order.

Castleford Community Learning Centre: : 01977 511581 :
Route Publishing:



Arthur Scargill With Ian Clayton

Ian Clayton’s Arthur Scargill film, made on the occasion of Arthur’s 70th birthday. It’s a slightly different profile of Arthur than we’re used to being presented with.

Arthur talks movingly about the support of his parents, his early days as a trade unionist and about events of the miners’ strike of 1984/85.

‘My father was a tremendous reader, he was a master of words. If you learn you will be able to understand the world in which you live, but more important, you will be able to do things in a way that can help put it right.’

Ian and Arthur revisit the site of the Orgreave Coke Plant, scene of a bloody battle during the strike; and the chamber of the NUM headquarters in Barnsley where Arthur recalls his first speech in the early 1960s.

Recorded in January 2008.

>More on Ian Clayton

Churchill Funeral – Extract


Ian Clayton remembers Winston Churchill’s funeral. An extract from Song For My Father.

Some of my earliest television memories are of seeing the misty black-and-white images of Churchill’s funeral. For years I thought the mistiness was because, according to my dad, ‘we had a worn out tube’ on our telly. I’ve since found out it was a foggy day.

My grandfather is booing the television coverage. ‘What are they all crying and upset for? I’m glad the old swine has gone!’ My gran nods her agreement.

My grandfather cannot abide Churchill. He says that Churchill hates coal miners, that he was responsible for killing two unarmed colliers in Featherstone in 1893. He wasn’t, but you can’t tell my grandad that. He also says that Churchill ordered troops to open fire on striking miners at Tonypandy in the Rhondda Valley, after he sent the cavalry in.

My grandfather turns his back on the funeral pictures. ‘Turn the bloody television off, Hilda! I don’t want to see it! All this bloody nonsense for that thing!’ My grandad saved the word ‘thing’ for the people he really couldn’t stand. Churchill was a ‘thing’. Later, and said with equal venom, Margaret Thatcher became a ‘thing’ and also ‘a creature’. A man who once stole his pint of beer in the Girnhill Lane Club was ‘nowt but a thing’, he also got a punch in the face for being a thief as well as a ‘thing’.

My gran turns off the television and places a folded cloth over it, as though to completely shut out any trace of an image of Churchill’s funeral being accidentally beamed into our front room. She then sits on the chair beneath her budgie’s cage and tells her favourite anecdote about the woman she calls a thing.

‘Lady Astor was another… she once asked, “Do they let the coal miner’s out of the pit everyday?”’ She puts on what she thinks is a posh voice. She is not used to talking without the glottal pauses that her dialect demands, so it sounds doubly funny, the dark humour of the actual words combine with the way she pronounces them, to make a sentence that at first makes us laugh and then makes us think, and you end up feeling sad at the same time as smiling.

I don’t know who told her that Lady Astor said that, I’m not sure that Lady Astor did say it, perhaps if she didn’t she would have done if she thought of it. It’s just one of those likely apocryphal tales that are passed around our area, like the one Mick Appleyard told me, a friend and former union man from Sharlston Pit.

Mick is talking to me about Winston Churchill. ‘Churchill and Lady Astor were invited to a shoot on the Nostell Priory Estate. In them days Nostell Pit backed on to the woods. They were walking down the edge of these woods with their shotguns bent over their arms. They saw a gang of black-bright young lads of about fourteen dressed in filthy rags. These lads were scurrying home from the pit to their mams. Lady Astor says to Churchill, “What on earth are they?”’ He puts on a posh voice to imitate Astor. ‘And Churchill says, “They are coal miners.” So Astor says,’ posh voice again, “‘Oh! My goodness, are we allowed to take a pot at them.’”

I ask Mick, ‘Is that true?’

Mick says, ‘I don’t know, lad, but if it isn’t true it ought to be!’

I ask Mick, ‘If a lot of people in this country worship Churchill as a hero, why do people like you and my grandfather despise him?’

Mick shrugs, ‘I can’t say as I’ve ever met anybody who liked Churchill, apart from Tommy Mottram and he was the pit manager.’

Visit Ian Clayton’s Website

From The Pit To The Pinnacle

Dave Waddington

Forget eye-watering salary bills, flash cars and WAGS, author David Waddington tells about the Yorkshire footballers who really summed up the spirit of the beautiful game. ‘From The Pit To The Pinnacle’ – a feature on Coal, Goals and Ashes in the Yorkshire Post.

Given the chance, the world of public relations would have a field day with the West Riding County Football Association Cup.

It’s not exactly snappy title for a club competition and even as an acronym it’s unpronounceable. What it needs is a rebrand and perhaps a high-profile sponsor to lend a bit of glamour.

However, back in 1963, when football’s greatest extravagance was a couple of half-time cigarettes, the world was a very different place and at the end of that season victory in the cup for Fryston Colliery Welfare, a humble Second Division team, would provide a fitting final chapter in a true David and Goliath story. To the 11 men who turned out that day, the WRCFAC was the equivalent of holding aloft the FA Cup at Wembley.

David Waddington is not sure whether he was at the match or not. He may well have been as his father, Peter, was captain, so he often spent his weekends on the sidelines. Even if he wasn’t, he’s heard so much about the game and the team’s surprise triumph over out-and-out favourites, Bradford’s Thackley FC, that he’s lived every one of the 90 minutes a hundred times over.

A few years ago, realising the 50th anniversary of the biggest victory in the club’s history was approaching, David thought it might be nice to produce a commemorative programme of the game, including a few memories from the players, who had once been drawn from the thousand or so miners who worked down the village pit.

However, David soon realised that the story of Fryston Colliery Welfare’s day in the sun deserved more than a few pages of a local newsletter.The story of that one small Yorkshire club blossomed into Coal, Goals and Ashes, a book which is as much a social history of a Yorkshire pit village and a glimpse back in time to when football was truly a working class game as it is a chronicle of an individual club.

‘When I started out on this project, my motivation was purely personal,’ admits David, professor of communications at Sheffield Hallam University. ‘I was six- years-old when Fryston won the cup and I really wanted to record the events of that day for my dad. But as I began to interview more of his fellow players I realised that they had a real story to tell, not just about that particular season, but about how life used to be. Someone once said that the people of Fryston’s whole world revolved around the village boundaries, many of them rarely even crossing the bridge to Castleford. They were right and that exact same spirit of togetherness manifested itself in the football team. Fryston was socially isolated, the working life was hard, and I think that toughness came out in the spirit in which they played the game.’

The story of Coal, Goals and Ashes (to explain the title would, says David, ‘spoil the final chapter of the book.’) features a benevolent pit manager who prized his workers’ welfare alongside productivity, a veteran hero in a man named Freddie Howard who would return to be Fryston’s lethal weapon on cup day and an entire side who while they may have harboured dreams of being spotted by a Walter Winterbottom or an Alf Ramsey, were also happy to play simply for the camaraderie and the promise of a post-match table reservation at the local social club.

It also follows the history of people whose fortunes were tied so closely to the colliery which was already struggling to break even. It finally closed in the 1980s.

‘These were the days when a side was reliant not on any scientific or systematic coaching regimes, but on natural skill and the spirit of togetherness,’ says David. ‘Back then the training, if it happened at all, consisted of a few stretching exercises, a couple of laps around the field and few shots at goal. Even on match days there was not any particular talk of tactics.

‘However, these players knew each other inside out. They were had either been born in Fryston or worked or lived there and most could tick all three boxes.’

While for the most part, the lives of the Fryston players revolved around the pit during the week and the often waterlogged football pitches at the weekend, the team did have an occasional brush with the big time.

‘During the war among the many Bevin Boys conscripted to work down the mines rather than being sent off to the front line were a number of the country’s top footballers,’ says David. ‘I guess it was thought to be a slightly safer occupation and eight ended up at Fryston, including the legendary Bradford Park Avenue player Len Shackleton.’

Shackleton, who was the original showboater, would later play for both Newcastle and Sunderland and his skill along with that of the other footballing Bevin Boys left a lasting impression on the Fryston side.

‘A couple of the players were talent spotted by some of the bigger clubs,’ says David. ‘However, one turned down an offer to move full-time to Halifax Town in a favour of a part-time contract so he could continue to play with his friends in the village, while another of Fryston’s stars, Freddie Howard, packed in an opportunity with York City because he said the 20-minute train ride from Castleford was too far to travel.’

Howard was to be the star of that cup final in 1963. By then a veteran who had been out of the squad for some time, he was drafted back in as an emergency measure. While Thackley FC might have been the superior side on paper, Howard, dressed in the club’s traditional blue and white strip, scored a winning goal which the Bradford players would remember for ever.

‘One of the players told me they could have beaten England that night,’ says David. ‘And you know what, I reckon they probably could.’

Click here for more on Coal, Goals and Ashes.

 Click here to read the article on the Yorkshire Post website.