This film is part of Free

Miners Strike, Pickets

In the cold winter of 1972 Usworth Colliery miners refuse to keep the home fires burning during a national miners strike.

Non-Fiction 1972 7 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for North East Film Archive


Do you remember candle-lit dinners and the 3 day working week in 1972? On the 9th January the National Union of Miners (NUM) called a national strike in a pay dispute with Edward Heaths Conservative government, the first since 1926. Looking back, these raw fragments of news footage of pickets, police and strike breakers at Usworth Colliery in County Durham are strangely disquieting, since coal mines have now all but disappeared from the British landscape.

This film was discovered in the collections of the Durham Police, but is believed to be un-edited footage shot by Tyne Tees Television between the 21st January and 2nd February during the seven week miners strike. A policeman calling for a peaceful protest is heard to remark We didnt get a very good write-up last night either as police officers or pickets. The historical irony will not be lost on contemporary viewers who may remember both the 1974 strike, which saw Heaths government voted out of power, and the divisive 1984-85 miners strike, one of the longest and most confrontational industrial disputes Britain has ever seen, leaving fractured communities in its wake.