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Baroness Thatcher

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ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


SylviaInCanada Report 18 Apr 2013 20:07

I grew up in a cotton mill town, Oldham, one of the leading textile towns in the world in its time.

Cotton spinning was the reason for the town's development from a small village, beginning in the late 1700s. There were 89 mills in this smallish place by 1830.

At its peak, there were over 360 mills, all working 24 hours a day

Of course, cotton had its ups and downs over the years. I can speak only of the time from the 1940s on.

When I was growing up in the 1940s and 1950s, I remember Oldham as busy ....... with most people working in the cotton mills, but also in engineering factories, etc etc

But the time I left the UK in 1967, over half the mills had been closed down. The industry staggered along, with more mils closing every year, until the last one closed in the late 1990s.

The town was devastated, unemployment rampant, etc etc

It was devastating to return to Oldham time and time again after 1 month, 3 months, or 6 months away through the 1960s ....... and see more and more shuttered mills, becoming more and more decrepit, and more and more shops closing down, more and more unemployed people, etc.

Some people have picked themselves up, founded new businesses, new businesses have moved in, some cotton mills have been redeveloped in residential accommodations, etc etc

I can remember lots of complaints, along the same lines as the miners and the devastation of their livelihood.

BUT the cotton mill closing can in no way be blamed on Mrs T, or indeed on any politician ...........

........... it was due to lack of upgrading of the industry, cheaper products available from overseas, plus decline in the production of cotton from the growing areas, and a myriad of other economic problems.

Just as the mining industry needed massive re-organisation to make it viable

Britain itself declined through the 40s to the 60s ................. there was a laissez faire attitude, that the good times would last for ever, and nothing needed to be done, it was Britain's "right" to maintain its position in the world.

Something HAD to be done, and Mrs T had the "balls", for want of a better word, to take on the unions who were demanding more and more when there was NOT more and more to be had.

And I speak as someone who was raised in a pro-union household. My Dad was no longer in the union by the time I arrived on the scene, he had progressed to being a Foreman in a Brass Foundry and thus was counted "Management", but he had worked in a union job from the age of 12

He worked in a coal mine in Oldham, in a print shop, and finally in the foundry as an apprentice and journeyman............... and was firmly of the opinion that the union was the best thing to happen to the working man because of the SAFETY aspects that had occupied the union in the early days.

I worked in a union job as a teacher ...... the Assistant Masters and Assistant Mistresses Union :-D

Dad always wanted when I would graduate to "full" status :-D :-D :-D

But by the 50s and 60s, the unions were becoming more concerned about how much money they could get ................ with the leaders of the union feathering their own nests.

It HAD to stop ............................ or Britain would be in an even worse state than you seem to think it is today.

I noticed the most incredible difference between the attitudes of many in the UK in 1967 vs the attitudes seen in Texas that same year, and in Canada in 1968.

There was a vitality, an urgency, an eagerness to work on this side of the Atlantic that had disappeared from the parts of Britain that I knew.


SylviaInCanada Report 18 Apr 2013 19:37


be honest .................. not all electricity is generated by the use of coal.

It has been that way for many years.

All countries have been moving away from the use of coal for heating, and electricity generation for many years ................. form the 50s, if I remember correctly.

That's because coal is a "dirty" fuel.

Recent figures for the UK ...............

Most of the UK's electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels, mainly natural gas (47% in 2010) and coal (28%). A very small amount is produced from oil (under 1%). The volume of electricity generated by coal and gas-fired power stations changes each year, with some switching between the two depending on fuel prices.

16% of UK electricity comes from nuclear reactors, in which uranium atoms are split up to produce heat using a process known as fission. The UK's nuclear power stations will close gradually over the next decade or so, with all but one expected to stop running by 2025. Several companies have plans to build a new generation of reactors, the first of which could be running by 2018.

Renewable technologies use natural energy to make electricity. Fuel sources include wind, wave, marine, hydro, biomass and solar. It made up 7% of electricity generated in 2010 - this will rise as the UK aims to meet its EU target of generating 30% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

The UK electricity network is connected to systems in France and Ireland and imports or exports electricity when it is most economical. In total, the UK exported 4,481 GWh of electricity in 2010 and imported 7,144 GWh, which accounted for under 1% of the electricity supplied.

so coal is becoming less and less important


Muffyxx Report 18 Apr 2013 18:59

No wonder the price of our coal became so uncompetitive !!!!


Annx Report 18 Apr 2013 18:44

I have said before on here that I am from a family of generations of miners. My dad did a short stint at the pit after the war. I asked him once why people worked in the pit and his answer was 'THE PAY!' It was much better than in other jobs according to him. I thought I would have a google to see what pay is like now and was surprised to see that a key coalface worker could earn with bonuses, £70,000 pa.

I know, even years ago, there were rent allowances and rent free miners' homes and then, of course, the coal allowance for many of them. I remember in the 50s my gran's coalhouse was always full, they had a fire all year round to get rid of it to make room for the next regular delivery! I remember my dad often filled a couple of bags to take home on his bike!!

Yes, and all these years later, many miners who were made redundant and are over age 50 are still entitled to the coal allowance, which I think can be worth about £1400 pa in some areas these days. Since 1994 and privatisation about £970million has been paid, but rightly so, as part of their contracts.

What I fail to understand is why many of them, having had good pay, fuel and maybe rent allowance and then good redundancy payments (for some) didn't seem to have any money behind them when the pits were closed? I said before, when staying with my gran and grandad how grandad and my uncle still living at home would spend every evening in the pub and dad always reckoned that that was where a lot of the miners' money went. He said a lot of them could have bought a home like he did, as they were paid more ,but chose to drink it instead. He was right behind Mrs Thatcher in the strikes.

Like some people nowadays, the miners seemed to think they had the right to the same job for life, that they shouldn't need to change or move to where work is and they have passed on attitudes of blame being a reason to do nothing about your situation to their offspring. That is the real tragedy. Even with regeneration, some are too choosy to take the jobs on offer, even as a stop gap and to gain skills.


Gins Report 18 Apr 2013 16:58

Sorry Roy.......misread your post


eRRolSheep Report 18 Apr 2013 15:48

OFITG - sadly that is very true but there is now massive regeneration and many areas have benefited from the growth of technology firms


OneFootInTheGrave Report 18 Apr 2013 15:39

ErrolSheep, some investment did eventually come to the area, alas it came to late to halt the blight in many of the areas I made reference to. One of my saddest memories was watching the village I was brought up in being demolished :-(


terryj Report 18 Apr 2013 15:36

all of us assuming you have electricity

coal gas electric and water are not businesses they are public utilities subsidised by the state to provide cheap basics of life for everyone

people go on about how they now make money of course they do look at your bills

do you you think people chooses whether to heat or eat is progress


JoyBoroAngel Report 18 Apr 2013 15:24

just out of intrest



eRRolSheep Report 18 Apr 2013 15:10

OFITG - in fact billions WERE invested in those areas and does continue.

The Coalfields Regeneration Trust has invested over £250 million in former mining communities over the past 15 years.
There has also been, and still is, massive inward investment from the European Social Fund. In just the last seven years £5 billion has been provided paid fifty fifty by the ESF and national funding.


Porkie_Pie Report 18 Apr 2013 15:04

Gins, "She got rid of the crap. And before you ask, I vote Labour"

Read again, :-D I did say they where the words of an ex miner and not ME

My other post was about the City Centre being decimated because of business rates and not about the steel industry, we all know what Sheffield is well known for but it was also a very vibrant area for Shopping, as I said before Coal was in decline before Thatcher as was the Steel industry



Porkie_Pie Report 18 Apr 2013 14:55

OFITG your post 18 Apr 2013 12:24

100% correct but I was brought up to have a mind of my own, Whilst I understand the consequences of being a "SCAB" miners are supposed to be proud MEN and should have had the courage of their convictions and told Scargill what to do with HIS strike "Tail wagging the dog"

I believe that in life you make your own luck, If there is no work make some or move to where their is work "Get on your bike as the saying goes", I said it before as genealogists we know to well that throughout history our ancestors have done this for centuries why should we be any different? I personally have had to move "Get on my bike" for work and had jobs in most counties and even abroad, Sitting on my bum waiting for a new business to start in my area or for someone to give me a job was NOT an option



Gins Report 18 Apr 2013 14:48

Roy >>>She got rid of the crap. And before you ask, I vote Labour :-0

Sheffield was not a city of 'retail', never has been and more than likely never will. Sheffield is known as 'The Steel City'..........well that's a joke!

If the pits were losing money, why were they closed in such proportion and so quickly? Would it not have made sense to phase them out (same for the steel works) and give the redundant workers a chance to find alternative work?

180.000(ish) lost their livelihoods, leaving them on the dole and looking for work

The point about being too young at the time of 'Thatchers' government isn't really valid. I know a lot about Henry V111 and Jeanne d'Arc..... Roy, I wasnt born then



OneFootInTheGrave Report 18 Apr 2013 14:41

I have never criticised the actual closing of the coal mines, what I have criticised is the fact that in many areas the coal mines were closed, and nothing, absolutely nothing, was put in place or done to assist those who lost their jobs as a result of the closures. No regeneration schemes, no retraining schemes, no opportunities of any kind.

So Roy, all I would say to the ex-miner in your post who suggested, those in areas that have never recovered should create their own jobs is, you were one of the lucky ones.

If you take only one village from those I mentioned, Kelty, up until the demise of the coal mines it had a population of around 8,500 and some 95% of the wage earners, lets say between 2,500 to 3,000 individuals, were employed in the coal industry. Keeping in mind that the other 9 towns or villages I mentioned all shared the same fate, what were the self employment jobs these 2,500 to 3,000 individuals, plus those from the other 9 villages, going to create and where was the market for their products or services going to be.

Let's face it, political parties of all colours, have and always will have a political map, and when a party wins a General Election the political map of that party determines their policies, if your area is not on their map - tough :-|

Brenda from Wales

Brenda from Wales Report 18 Apr 2013 13:56

How true that chaps words are Roy.if only everyone thought like that and took responsibility for their own lives.
We wouldn't be in the mess we are right now!
You cannot run a business that is losing money.


Merlin Report 18 Apr 2013 13:47

Chris, tha words "Champagne Socialists" come to mind.


ChrisofWessex Report 18 Apr 2013 13:41

It is so true that no one ever seems (least of all miners) to blame dear Mr Scargill.

As from 2002 he was no longer President of NUM and insisted that NUM should pay the outgoings ofd his flat in London during his lifetime or that of his widow. He lost his case in 2012 However this was costing NUM £34,000 p.a. He also demanded contimuing payment of his fuel etc in his Barsley home and that of the preparation costs of his annual tax return!! He lost on that one also.

The Kinnocks as a family have all done well - MEPs, both husband and wife, not sure if son is one also or works within the EU and son is married to Prime Minister of Denmark!! The last bit is just further info!!

So much for fighting the working man's corner.

I am so glad Maggie's funeral passed without any major incident.


Merlin Report 18 Apr 2013 13:19

On a lighter note,"*Sparklingsandie" Was your Milkmans name "Ernie"?


Lyndi Report 18 Apr 2013 12:47

I would like to shake the hand of that man. He has said what I think in a way I never could because he speaks with his heart from experience.
I hope people listen. :-D


eRRolSheep Report 18 Apr 2013 12:45

Thanks for that Roy - a very very valid comment indeed