In January 1993, seven pit camps were established to fight against pit closures announced in 1992 by Michael Heseltine, the President of the Board and Trade. One such Pit Camp, at Houghton Main in the Dearne Valley, was set up by local women and the local N.U.M Branch with the support of a group of women collectively known as the Sheffield Women Against Pit Closures (SWAPC). Day and night, week on week for six months, the pit camp was staffed by the wives, partners and supporters of miners. The stories of these women, and the people with whom they worked, to defend jobs and coal-mining communities, and to campaign for long term energy policy have never been told. As the twenty-fifth anniversary approaches, this project will collect and collate these stories, producing a variety of outcomes that will resurrect the memory of the pit camp.
A blog post written by co-director of the project, Professor Adrian Bingham, introduces the story of the Pit Camps within the wider story of miners’ late-twentieth-century struggle against pit closures: http://www.historymatters.group.shef.ac.uk/battle-orgreave-30-years-on-stories-waiting-told/
- Collate the archive material available: photos, letters, newspaper articles, films, etc., to ensure it is accessible to as many people as possible.
- Produce a book, and an exhibition to be held at the National Coal Mining Museum in Wakefield.
- Collect and tell the stories of those involved, as far as possible, in their own words. This includes Pit Camp participants, visitors to the pit camp, including miners, school children, artists.
- Explore the relevance and understanding of the ‘story’ for the present day, for future activism, and the impact of the pit camp upon participants and people in the wider Dearne Valley region
- Contribute to the history and heritage of the Dearne Valley Region.
- Ensure that all materials are accessible to future generations.
The Houghton Main Pit Camp was only one of seven pit camps set up to protest the closure of the deep mines. The project will bring to life a forgotten protest, but one which shaped the experiences of the women who participated in the Pit Camps, affected the lives of people living in the area, and contributed to the history of the region.
The book and exhibition will be produced and published in 2018 for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Houghton Main Pit Camp.
This project is led by Caroline Poland and Flis Callow, and supported by Gary Rivett, co-director of Stories of Activism, Department of History, University of Sheffield.
- The National Coal Mining Museum of England
- Louisa Briggs, Millenium-Galleries
- Sheffield Archives
Call for participation and information
- Were you involved in the Houghton Main Women’s Pit Camp in 1993?
- Were you involved in any of the other Pit Camps that were established in 1993?
- Do you have information relating to the Pit Camp (s)?
- Would you be willing to be interviewed for the project?
- Would you like to know more about the project?
- Join the Facebook group: Sheffield Women Against Pit Closures, Pit Camp 1993
- Follow the project on Twitter: @SWAPC1993