Margaret Thatcher’s former Oxford college scraps investments in coal

The year-long miners strike began in March 1984 and marked one of Margaret Thatcher’s fiercest battles of her time as prime minister. 

She came to power in May 1979, at the end of the infamous Winter of Discontent, where Britain was crippled by a wave of national strikes.

The Iron Lady, named because of her strong will, spent the next decade curbing the power of trade unions, signalling the end of an era when trade union leaders trooped in and out of 10 Downing Street, haggling and bargaining with her Labour predecessors.

Instead she stripped the unions of many of their powers with the aim of transferring them to managements and individual consumers.

Mrs Thatcher successfully defied Arthur Scargill’s nationwide and year-long miners’ strike, which threatened to cripple Britain’s entire economic base.

More than 120 people were injured as 10,000 picketers were met by mounted police officers at a strike that later dubbed the 'Battle of Orgreave' on June 18, 1984

More than 120 people were injured as 10,000 picketers were met by mounted police officers at a strike that later dubbed the ‘Battle of Orgreave’ on June 18, 1984

Industrial action taken without a national ballot by Scargill’s National Union of Mineworkers saw strikes take place outside collieries across Britain, following an announcement from the National Coal Board that 20 pits and 20,000 jobs were set to be cut in March 1984.   

The union’s aim was to cause a severe energy shortage, similar to one seen in 1972.

The approach of Thatcher’s Government was to stockpile coal to prevent such a shortage, while keeping miners at work and using police to break up picket lines.

The resulting action would see dozens injured and two people die.  

Picket lines were often marred with violence, particularly at a now infamous confrontation dubbed the Battle of Orgreave.

Around 10,000 picketers were out on June 18 when they were met with police in riot gear, police horses and dogs. 

A total of 123 people were left injured after violent clashes outside the coking plant in Rotherham, while 95 people were arrested.   

In April 1984, miner David Gareth Jones died after he was hit in the neck by a brick thrown while picketing at Ollerton in Nottingham. A post-mortem later revealed it was more likely that he was killed after being pressed against the pit gates earlier in the day.

David Wilkie, a taxi driver, died after taking two ‘scab’ miners to work at Merthyr Vale Colliery when a concrete post was dropped from a bridge onto his car by two miners who were on strike in November 1984. 

Mrs Thatcher refused to compromise despite scenes of violence at the picket lines. 

Eventually the strikers were forced to back down in the face of economic reality, and accept the loss of their increasingly unprofitable industry. 

On March 3 1985, the NUM executive, running low on funds and with striking families struggling to feed, heat and clothe themselves, narrowly voted to end the industrial action. 

 By the end of her term, Britain’s first PM had overseen mass picketing outlawed, while ballots had to be held before industrial action could be taken, secondary action was made illegal and union leaders had to face regular elections.

The number of working days lost through industrial action slumped from 29million in 1979, falling to record lows of less than half a million by the end of the 1990s.