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Bold Memories of ’84

Bolton Clarion's Ride Round the Lancashire pits. December 8th 1984.

We were not intrepid, but pregnant with comradeliness and anticipation. "Le Peleton Rouge" assembled, and left the Socialist Club, Wood Street, Bolton, few in number, strong in vigour. It was the back end of the year. A tepid sun, wan in colour made little impact on a damp December Saturday. Warmed by jumpers and propaganda, mittens and solidarity the 9 comrades climbed out of Bolton chattering. We dropped onto the Mersey Plain heading for an initial stop at the Pretoria Pit Disaster Memorial at Over Hulton.

The descent to the first striking pit - Bickershaw - was cold, our limbs still as we freewheeled. The Bickershaw pickets congregated by the road side, near a bus stop, without a brazier. A stiff flu brush of a Christmas tree failed to compensate for a dank day; it also failed miserably to compete with a miners cap innundated with badges - a millinery memorial to class struggle.

A member of Women Against Pit Closures, handicapped in a wheel chair relaid a horrendous story to us of scab intimidation. We left shortly afterwards, conscientious of a short day, lighting up time, and the Agecroft striking miners children's Xmas party.

Bold Miners Club was to be our dinner spot, and a welcome indoors. An award of a "Bold miners Badge" was beyond our expectations, but more than welcome. They were quickly and prominently pinned on. A special bus taking miners wives and children Christmas shopping departed as we left, now warmed and fed. Sutton Manor was not far, and a well stoked brazier rekindled the hands and feet, supplemented by energetic talk with the pickets. We posed by the pit gates for photos. We saw the managements close circuit cameras watching us; we looked upon the miners banner extra-mural - "Stop N.U.M. Picket Line — Do Not Cross — T.U.C. Policy". We didn't, took more pictures, and returned to the brazier.

Near by at Bold Power Station we met pickets and resolution, braziers and flasks, warmth and determination. Pickets entrenched for the duration left us strengthened and fired with a greater urgency to return to Bolton and continue the street collections.

Then, for those pickets there was no turning back. The journey had been long from Cortonwood.

For us, we were turning back, along the Bold Power station road heading toward Winwick and Parkside Pit.

Parkside, our penultimate stop was still. Picket free, abandoned, there remained a leafless tree decorated with tin cans and paper streamers hastily made, supported by a grey back drop. We enjoyed the makeshift Xmas tree - we were pagans at Parkside - as disrespectful of Christmas as we were of the N.C.B. We ate more, took photos and convinced ourselves of a shortening ride back. We set off some of us constantly glancing at our "croix de guerre" — for services rendered. The miners childrens Christmas party at Walkden was in its last throws, but from out of the darkness, they applauded our entrance. We didn't expect that. We felt embarassed. We had done little. The miners on strike, their effort towering over us. More photos, more talk, more food and warm drink, then our meagre but firm peleton split and departed. We had cashed up some £500+, and as we cycled our different ways we were united by the one idea — to continue with the street collections and to build the solidarity movement with the N.U.M. Nikki Sammon

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