Sheffield Women Against Pit Closures – Houghton Main Pit Camp 1992/3


Pit Camp Banner


Announcement: You can’t kill the spirit: the untold story of the women who set up camp to stop pit closures will be published and available to purchase on 28 November!

Stories of Activism has worked with Sheffield Women Against Pit Closures for over five years to produce this book. The book can be purchased for £12. Just email and you will receive details for how to get a copy. Shortly after publication, we will announce other places it can be bought. Follow either @SOASheffield or @SWAPC1993 on Twitter for future announcements of book launches and opportunities to buy the book.


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:

This is the final project of Stories of Activism. Over the years, and as we have supported the SWAPC, we have :

  1. Collated the SWAPC’s archive material including: photos, letters, newspaper articles, films, etc., to ensure it is accessible to as many people as possible.
  2. Collected oral histories and told 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.
  3. Explored 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
  4. Contributed to the history and heritage of the Dearne Valley Region.
  5. Ensured 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 has brought 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.


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