The Strike: Remembering David
"You lose a son and you're going to be bitter," says Mark Jones. His son, David, a Wakefield miner, died as a result of violence on the picket lines during the bitter 1984-85 strike. Twenty five years on, Mark says the loss is still hard to bear.
It was on March 15th 1984 that David Jones lost his fight for life. Just a day before he'd been just another man on the picket lines at Ollerton colliery in Nottinghamshire after travelling down from his home in Wakefield to join the strikers there. As his father Mark says today he was no different from hundreds of others that day: "David was the same as any other lad - the same as any other lad in Yorkshire. Special to us, ordinary to everybody else." However, David's name was about to hit the headlines as one of only two miners to die because of incidents on the picket lines during the 1984-85 dispute.
David Jones: In Loving Memory
Just three days earlier the pit strike had begun in earnest on a national scale. As a miner at Ackton Hall colliery near Featherstone, David Jones joined his fellow strikers - this time on the picket lines at Ollerton. His dad, Mark, takes up the story: "They were stopped by the police on a bus. They decided to walk, started walking and then some lads came down in cars - they must've got through - picked them up and took them to Ollerton. They were picketing and somebody had a cut on his forehead so David took him into the pub in Ollerton. He cleaned it, patched it up and put a plaster on. Then they were outside and somebody says, 'They're damaging our cars!' So he ran down the road and David was hit by a brick and that was it." He died from chest injuries some hours later.
"We got to know about four o'clock in the morning. I think it was the local bobby," says Mark Jones. Understandably, he remembers the events of a quarter of a century ago like they happened yesterday. He says the tragic news broken to them on their own doorstep was just the start: "Then we had to go and tell his partner, the mother of his daughters, tell her and the rest of the family. My son, Trevor, was at Thoresby colliery and he heard that somebody had been killed so he went to Ollerton and then he found out it was his brother. Horrifying for him. I wouldn't want to hear it that way, it was bad enough my way but I had the rest of my family around me. I had to pretend to be strong to try and help them. I had three sons and three daughters. Ask anybody who's lost somebody dear, especially a son or a daughter or a child. We should go first, then the next generation and the next, and so on. You don't take the younger generations first. It's all wrong. It's not natural."
Three thousand people attended David's funeral in South Kirkby just over a week later. Mark Jones says he was impressed and touched by the way the community rallied round - but he was not surprised: "People around here, oh, we wouldn't have got over it as we did without them. They were tremendous. They were just there, coming to the house all the time and seeing if there was anything they could do. Then, when we started going out, they were always there, you know? It's something special. That's what community means...They were great."
A quarter of a century later, Mark says the loss of his son still hurts - as does the effect the year-long Miners' Strike had on the pit communities: "Obviously. You lose a son and you're going to be bitter. But I don't hate anybody. I don't hate the scabs. I hate what they DONE by going to work. But I don't hate 'em. I don't like 'em for doing it but I don't hate 'em. You don't hate anybody because hatred only eats away at you...Oh, it was a terrible way to lose anybody...The tears might have gone from our eyes but they're still in there. They're still hurting."
Based on an interview with Mark Jones by BBC Radio Leeds' Clive Settle. Click on the link below to listen to the interview.
last updated: 16/03/2009 at 11:27