"Not just supporting but leading"
: the involvement of the women of the South Wales coalfield in the 1984-85 Miners' Strike

  • Rebecca Davies

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The 1984-85 miners’ strike dramatically changed the face of the South Wales Valleys. This dissertation will show that the women’s groups that played such a crucial supportive role in it were not the homogenous entity that has often been portrayed. They shared some comparable features with similar groups in English pit villages but there were also qualitative differences between the South Wales groups and their English counterparts and between the different Welsh groups themselves. There is evidence of tensions between the Welsh groups and disputes with the communities they were trying to assist, as well as clashes with local miners’ lodges and the South Wales NUM. At the same time women’s support groups, various in structure and purpose but united in the aim of supporting the miners, challenged and shifted the balance of established gender roles The miners’ strike evokes warm memories of communities bonding together to fight for their survival. This thesis investigates in detail the women involved in support groups to discover what impact their involvement made on their lives afterwards. Their role is contextualised by the long-standing tradition of Welsh women’s involvement in popular politics and industrial disputes; however, not all women discovered a new confidence arising from their involvement. But others did and for them this self-belief survived the strike and, in some cases, permanently altered their own lives. The activities of the women’s support groups confirmed changes in the social role of women that had been occurring since the 1960s in the coalfield communities of South Wales, and thereby contributed to a revision of the traditional notion of ‘communities’ which were changed by the very process of being defended.
    Date of Award2010
    Original languageEnglish


    • Coal Strike, Great Britain, 1984-1985
    • Women - Political activity - Wales

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