Playwright wants women’s miners’ strike memories

WORKMEN: Easington miners return to work in March 1985.
WORKMEN: Easington miners return to work in March 1985.

THE 30th anniversary of the end of the Miners’ Strike has sparked an appeal for help by an East Durham playwright – whose latest work is inspired by the conflict.

Rachael Black, an actress and writer from Peterlee, plans to document the contribution of wives and mothers during the 1984/5 struggle in her new play – The Ironing Ladies.

I want to write a play that is not romanticised, but is very true to what happened – an honest portrayal of the hardships faced by women that year.

Rachael Black

The 25-year-old, who is currently rehearsing for a show at London’s Tricycle Theatre, is also hoping to study the legacy of the strike on later generations in ex-mining communities.

But first she is appealing to Memory Lane readers to come forward and share their strike stories – from running soup kitchens, to talking at rallies and taking part on the picket lines.

“I became sick of seeing so many plays, films and articles on Margaret Thatcher, so I decided to write about the lives of the women on the other side of the strike,” she said.

“I come from a mining background; both my grandfathers were miners. I don’t want to glamorise the strike, I want to tell it how it was – which is why I need people’s memories.”

Father was set against son, neighbour against neighbour and child against classmate as miners downed tools nationwide in March 1984 to fight for their futures – and their pits.

Today, a full three decades on, all of the collieries of old County Durham have gone. Housing estates and parks now stand in their place.

“The strike was all about fighting for jobs and communities,” said Rachael. “The collieries were at the hearts and souls of villages across the North East, but now they have all gone.

“Mining is very much in my blood. I want to write a play that is not romanticised, but is very true to what happened – an honest portrayal of the hardships faced by women that year.”

• Rachael can be contacted via email at: theironingladies@yahoo.co.uk