11 August 2008
By Richard Edwards
Courtesy of Yorkshire Post
IT IS a stunning collection that tells the tale of one of history's bitterest industrial struggles. Peter Harrison, of Wakefield, is the proud owner of an enormous range of mining memorabilia.
Much of it dates from the 1984 to 1985 miners' strike, which Peter, an ex-pitman, stood solid throughout.
The dad-of-two said: "It was hard times, I remember being very hungry. But I'll never forget the spirit between us.
"Miners looked after their mates, I think the only place these days you get that sort of spirit is in the army."
Peter started down the pit in 1972 when he was just 15, and retired due to ill health in 2000.
It was in his retirement that he started collecting, inspired by the eight pit checks – the metal discs miners used to use to clock in and out of the shaft – he owned then.
He said: "You handed the alloy one in when you went down and the brass one when you came out.
"I was looking at these eight one day and I decided to start collecting.
"Looking at them is like reading a newspaper, what a story they could tell if they could talk."
Since 2000, Peter has amassed about 600 badges, more than 300 pit checks and 20 mining lamps.
The strike badges were made to raise funds for miners and their families, as they were sold for a pound each by NUM officials.
He even has the Lofthouse Colliery band's drum, which he thinks was made back in the 1940s.
That pit will always have a special significance for him, as he began his career there and was on the payroll at the time of the 1973 disaster.
That tragedy saw seven miners lose their lives when floodwater poured in through a breached pithead.
"Luckily for me I was at college, on day release then," Peter explained. "It hit the area hard, and people will never forget. Flowers are laid on the memorial every anniversary."
Some of the 51-year-old's collection pre-dates the mines being nationalised, such as badges minted by the Yorkshire Miners' Association, a forerunner of the NUM.
A number of those were found in Yorkshire fields by metal detecting enthusiasts, having been ground into the earth by decomposing "shoddy."
Peter explained: "In the old days farmers used to cut up old clothes and spread them on the land, it was a cheap fertiliser and they called it shoddy.
"Some of the clothes had the badges on, and they could be found a good way away.
"I found a Welsh one in Selby."
Asked about the scars left by the strike, Peter pointed to his badge display, which carries the motto Time Will Be The Avenger.
He continued: "Thatcher seems to have forgotten it.
"But some people were hit so hard they haven't been able to forget, and they won't forget what she did to them."
Anyone who has badges or pit checks for sale can contact Peter on 01924 366906. He is particularly interested in Hartley Bank, Caphouse, Shuttle Eye, Grange Ash, Lepton Edge, Whitley Clough plus any other local pits and is willing to pay upto £50 each.
Telephone. Peter 01924 366906
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