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Mining memories: Ex MP Joe Ashton says end of industry will go down in history

1992 NACODS Rally in London agaiinst the pit closure programme
Bassetlaw MP Joe Ashton

1992 NACODS Rally in London agaiinst the pit closure programme Bassetlaw MP Joe Ashton

“Nobody wanted any pit to shut,” says former Bassetlaw MP Joe Ashton. “Manton was a good pit producing a lot of coal. But Mrs Thatcher was determined to close it.”

The Labour politician, now 80, served the district for over three decades with his ‘no-nonsense’ politics.

He battled for the miners during their 1984 strike and fought against the then Government’s decision to close Manton Colliery in 1994.

This week he spoke to the Guardian about the bitterness which still lingers long after the pit closed.

“She (Thatcher) seemed to take delight in attacking Arthur Scargill and the unions and shutting the pits,” said Mr Ashton.

“We demonstrated and complained and marched down to London. We did everything possible to try and stop the closure.”

“When the announcement finally came there was sadness all around. It’s something that will stand in history for 100 years.”

“Everyone is talking about the First World War anniversary and we can barely contemplate what our soldiers did for this country.”

“We will look back on this anniversary with similar sadness. Miners worked in terrible conditions but they got so much from it, not only a job but a strong sense of community. And it was ripped from beneath them.”

“People in Worksop will never forget. But things have moved on. In the last two decades new roads and bypasses which were on the drawing board for years finally got built.”

“New industries arrived in town like huge food production and distributionfirms. It hasn’t all been bad.”

 

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