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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 March, 2004, 09:26 GMT
'Musically it was a good year'
Andrew Lincoln (front, with tuba) and the rest of Grimethorpe Colliery Band after winning the national championships
Andrew Lincoln (front, with tuba) with Grimethorpe Colliery Band after winning the British championships
Andrew Lincoln was a miner at Brodsworth colliery, near Doncaster but he was also a talented tuba player. For him, 1984 is the year he was picked to play with the country's top colliery band.

Just as the strike started I got into the Grimethorpe Colliery Band. It was always a childhood ambition and they headhunted me from another band.

The strike was difficult. I was a single bloke, 24, living at home with my mother - basically living off her widow's pension.

I was on strike but I didn't go out picketing and if you didn't go out picketing you didn't get so much as a tin of beans off the NUM.

I have mixed emotions because musically it was a very successful year for me.

Grimethorpe won the British Open Brass Band Championship that year which was amazing. The conductor, Geoff Brand, told us before we went on "We are going to win this for the hundreds and thousands of miners out there" and we did.

Public opinion was certainly on our side, especially when we went down to London.

From a bus stop near my house you used to be able to look down the valley and see four pits... they will never come back
In Christmas 1984 we went busking in Sheffield. We collected thousands of pounds and we just chucked it all in the coffers for the strike.

When Orgreave happened [day long battle between police and miners] I was in Innsbruck with the band. A friend and I saw it on TV and we just both sat there and cried. It was incredible.

I went abroad three times that year but I never felt guilty about travelling around with the band while everyone else was on strike. The word colliery was in the band's title, I was still a miner.

I think the government had planned all along that they would bring the NUM down. They said it wasn't political but they made it political.

They found ways to break the strike. An unemployed friend of mine went to sign on and a bloke said 'how do you fancy earning 20 in the morning?'.

All he had to do was get on a bus and go through the picket line. He wasn't a miner, it was just to break the strike.

Cleaner air

I left the pit in December 1985. I could see that no matter what you said or did there was no future in it. The miners became industrial gypsies - being moved to another pit when one closed down.

From a bus stop near my house you used to be able to look down the Dearne Valley and see four pits: now there is a road through it so they will never come back.

This area is still in the process of recovery. It's a lot cleaner and quite a bit of wildlife has returned which hasn't been seen for years. And there are jobs but not what I would call proper jobs - all call centres and the like.

There are still one or two scars like slag heaps - or muck stacks, as we used to call them.

In fact Brodsworth's heap is by the side of the A1; it's got grass on it but when you drive past you still know it for what it is.



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