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13 November 2014

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You are in: Leicester > History > Mining > On Strike in Leicestershire

Victory to the miners banners

On Strike in Leicestershire

Out of two and half thousand miners in the county's coalfield, only a tiny number went out on strike for the duration of the conflict. They were dubbed the Dirty Thirty. BBC Leicester's Ben Jackson visited two of them...

That year-long miners' strike of 1984/5 put an end to pit communities across the country, not least here in Leicestershire.

The Dirty Thirty fought for what they believed in and withdrew their labour in spite of pressure from colleagues and financial hardship. The Leicestershire coalfield refused to fall in behind the the NUM official line.

"It was just something I had to do."

Malcolm Pinnegar of the Dirty Thirty

But the Dirty Thirty remained loyal to the union and its policy.

Many of them still live and work in the county - although no longer in the mining industry.

Their leader was Malcolm Pinnegar. He now lives in Hinckley where Ben met him.

He is still absolutely clear about what he did 25 years ago: "To me it was important to carry on working while the rest of Britain's miners were fighting for their jobs... It was just something I had to do.

"Even now a lot of them who carried on working say they know they didn't do the right thing."

The Dirty Thirty are still in touch, their comradeship undiminished. Malcolm says: "I still know the lads who were on strike with me. I'll know them all my life. During the strike I met phenomenal people from all over the country."

Listen: Malcolm Pinnegar of the Dirty Thirty

BBC Leicester's Ben Jackson speaks to the leader of the Dirty Thirty

How did he find returning to work after the strike ended? He said that the manager of the pit "redeemed himself"  by making as easy as possible for him and the other strikers to go back. This was by no means the case in other pits.

Malcolm's final thoughts resemble those of Frank Sinatra: "I've got no regrets. I'm just sad Leicestershire miners did what they did."

The decision of the Dirty Thirty to strike was seen by some as heroic and by others as foolish and reprehensible. But that hasn't stopped them from becoming part of Leicestershire's social history.

Darren Moore was another of the Dirty Thirty. In 1984 he was a young miner with radical ideas and a strong leaning towards the far left. Twenty five years later he heads up the welfare rights service for Leicester City Council.

NUM leader Arthur Scargill at the TUC in 1984

NUM leader Arthur Scargill in 1984

Says Darren: "After picketing for a number of months we realised we had to get some money to survive. We started doing speaking tours at factories and other places... I spent eight weeks in the Milton Keynes area.

"In fact we got so god at it that we raised enough money for us and enough to give to other areas!"

At that time Darren was single, had no children or mortgage so he was in a better position than many.

Listen: Darren Moore of the Dirty Thirty

Ben talks to another member of the Thirty

Returning to work was difficult. he says there was an atmosphere. "It varied. Some people accepted us and there was a handful who were really against us."

Later Darren became a driving instructor and then moved into the advice sector advising on debt and benefits. Now he is an officer at the County Council.

How does he feel about the strike today? "I don't spend every day thinking about it but it is still a big part of my life."

last updated: 24/02/2009 at 16:54
created: 24/02/2009

You are in: Leicester > History > Mining > On Strike in Leicestershire

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