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Bygone Stanley - 1926 Miners Strike


There has been many difficult periods in the known history of Stanley which have already been mentioned, but perhaps the most difficult in this century was the 1926 miners strike which commenced on the 30th April 1926 and continued until the 12th of November 1926. The strike affected more than 50% of the families in Stanley. The striking mine workers had no income from any source apart from a very small payment from their Union funds which was soon exhausted. Miners' children had breakfast at school, usually two slices of jam or fat and bread. The local butchers, once a week, made soup which was collected in jugs and basins by the miners' wives or children. When their personal savings were exhausted, they borrowed a small, very limited allowance from the local authority which, after the strike, had to be repaid. It was known as the 'Johnny Homer Fund'. They depended on coal for heating and cooking and when their local coal supplies ran out the miners went to the local dirt disposal heaps at the collieries to recover coal, bringing the little they recovered home in barrows, old prams and buckets, If any member of the family was ill they depended on home treatment because they could not afford to pay for a doctor and his medicines. When in need Dr. J. F. S. Tocher, the local G.P., allowed miners to pay after the strike. Some miners in sheer desperation went back to work before the end of the strike. They could not endure seeing their families without food. This caused extreme bitterness; they were called 'blacklegs' and for many years after the strike this bitterness continued. After the strike almost all the miners had outstanding debts to pay for they had purchased food on credit to keep their families fed.

It was indeed a difficult period in our village. Again, as happens so often, there was a serious difference of opinions between two parties which could have been negotiated as successfully in the beginning as it was in the end. Mr Baldwin was Prime Minister and Mr Cook the Mineworkers' leader.

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