The Northern Echo is today launching a series of articles to mark the 40th anniversary of the most bitter industrial dispute in British history.

The Miners’ Strike of 1984-85 was an era that changed the country and is still ingrained in the collective consciousness of those who lived through it.

The humiliating dismantlement of the coalmining industry across the North East left scars on a proud people as deep as those in the ground.

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The Northern Echo: The skyline of County Durham was very different 40 years ago The skyline of County Durham was very different 40 years ago (Image: Keith Pattison)Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s policies led to the widespread closure of pits across the Durham coalfield, job losses, a dependence on foreign imports and the decline of trade union influence on British politics.

The impact on hard-working colliery communities was far-reaching with spiralling social problems such as unemployment, rising crime rates and substance abuse.

The aim of the strike, on March 6, 1984, in response to the announced closure of 20 pits in Yorkshire, was to preserve jobs elsewhere in the country and the lifestyle it provided.

But as the strike wore on tensions rose and Orwellian scenes were witnessed as police officers in riot  tried were drafted into law-abiding neighbourhoods to deal with striking miners on picket lines.

The Northern Echo: Police march through Easington during the strike Police march through Easington during the strike (Image: Keith Pattison)Over 11,000 arrests would be made, many were badly injured and six people would die during the year-long action.

Within a decade all of the collieries in the county would be closed.

We have spoken to the woman who organised themselves to feed their families as the battle with the Government to maintain a way of life became a war of attrition.

The Northern Echo: Police on the picket line in Easington Police on the picket line in Easington (Image: Contributor)Recommended reading:

Tomorrow (Tuesday) we will feature fascinating photographs from man who spent the strike on the frontline in Easington and tell how he realised he was ‘capturing history’.

County Durham MPs from both sides of the political divide will offer their views and we will also look at some of the key moments in the dispute including the Battle of Orgreave and the Siege of Easington.

We round off the week by speaking to the miners’ leaders who were instrumental in maintaining the strike as they explain the legacy, how it affected them as people and how it changed County Durham forever.  

The Northern Echo: Easington 1984Easington 1984 (Image: Contributor)