Women start Greenham-style protest at threatened pits

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A SMALL BAND of determined, cheerful women stood outside the entrance to Markham Main colliery in South Yorkshire yesterday, defying the weather, the Government and British Coal.

For them it was the start of a fresh campaign against the proposed closure of 31 collieries and perhaps to inject more public support into the struggle.

The women intend to stage non-stop vigils outside the 10 pits facing immediate closure and to set up a Greenham Common-style camp. They say they will not move until the Government backs down and rethinks its plans for the coal industry. A further vigil will begin today outside Grimethorpe colliery, then at Houghton Main, followed by more pits next week.

The idea for the protest came from Women Against Pit Closures, a group set up by the wives of miners and others concerned about the threatened demise of the industry. Brenda Nixon, one of the organisers, said: 'The women want to do something themselves. We will stay here and at all the other pits as long as it takes to change things.'

Anne Scargill, wife of the president of the National Union of Mineworkers, said she hoped women throughout the country would lend their support. 'They will be made welcome and can either just come and say hello or even stay overnight.'

(Photograph omitted)