Diary tribute to Clipstone coal mine striker

NMAC11-3188-1''Jonathan Symcox the author of a book based on the diarys of his grandfather John Lowe about the 1984 miners strike at Clipstoneat the book launch on Saturday
NMAC11-3188-1''Jonathan Symcox the author of a book based on the diarys of his grandfather John Lowe about the 1984 miners strike at Clipstoneat the book launch on Saturday
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MORE than 25 years after the bitter 12-month miners’ strike, Nottinghamshire is still known to some as ‘scab county’.

The history surrounding why pit workers across the area defied calls to join the walkout has long been well-documented, but now a new book has been published which captures the tension in the area through the eyes of a striking Clipstone miner.

‘If Spirit Alone Won Battles’ is the diary of the late John Lowe, who was the picket manager at Clipstone during the year-long strike of 1984-85, and has been written by his grandson, Jonathan Symcox.

Jonathan has used his grandfather’s own words to write the book - carrying out John’s wish that the story of the striking Nottinghamshire miner is never forgotten.

“He realised at the time that this was a story worth telling,” said Jonathan.

The journalist says John worked round the clock chronicling what happened during the strike - often writing into the early hours about what he had seen on the picket line - despite his own ill health.

“The more people that read about it the better, because it was a very difficult time for him (and the miners on strike),” he said.

“At first my grandma (Elsie) wasn’t keen about me doing the book, but then she went away and thought about it and came back to me and actually said ‘tell the world’.”

The story of how a striking miner from Clipstone played a key role in the battle against the Thatcher-led Conservative Government is expected to evoke memories for everyone involved in the iconic dispute.

It also features an extensive collection of photographs, propaganda, court documents and campaign literature to create an in-depth insight into how striking miners and their families fought for survival.

Jonathan spent more than three years putting the book together and ex-miners from across the country travelled to a launch event at Mansfield Gas Sports and Social Club last week.

They were joined by Mansfield MP, Sir Alan Meale, who described John as a ‘big man in Nottinghamshire.

Said Sir Alan: “He came right from nowhere to be a leader of men.

“He was decent, honourable, a trade unionist first and foremost and a community person.”

John died in 2005 and Jonathan, who hopes to start writing a novel in the New Year about the miners’ strike in Nottinghamshire, says his grandad would be delighted his first-hand account of the dispute had finally hit the bookshelves.

‘If Spirt Alone Won Battles’, The Diary of John Lowe, is available for £12.99 from W.H. Smiths and Waterstones and at http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/The-1984-85-Miners-Strike-in-Nottinghamshire/p/3295/.