Author Topic: Alum Rock Saltley  (Read 171901 times)

Phil

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Re: Alum Rock Saltley
« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2008, 04:27:24 PM »
Phil, so was there a village called Saltley, or was it part of Birmingham?  The battle of Saltley Gate was only recent and already it's not known about by lots of people, including me - or at least only muddled knowledge.  The history lessons are very interesting anyway, keep giving them Phil!

sueb

It seems that I don't know that much either, getting my PM's mixed like that. There is no doubt that the later dispute with the NUM in the eighties. The tactics of the government at that time used were learned from that dispute. If it interests you here is a copy of a report from the Guardian that mention both disputes and might give you an insight.

Twelve years before, in the so-called Battle of Saltley Gate, another picket of a coke works had helped to bring down Edward Heath's Conservative government - and made a hero of the National Union of Miners' Arthur Scargill. In 1984, Margaret Thatcher's ministers were adamant that there would not be a repetition of that outcome, and implicitly gave the securocrats carte blanche when it came to the policing of Orgreave.

On June 18 1984, after weeks of picketing, some 5,000 miners and supporters turned up at 8am outside the coking plant to protest at the "scab" labour and coal lorries passing through the South Yorkshire site. A few missiles and bricks were thrown. The police commander at Orgreave, assistant chief constable Anthony Clement, responded by sending in the mounted police. It was a serious overreaction and the miners' mood quickly turned violent.

When the pickets countered with a second push, Clement ordered another mounted advance and demanded that the pickets disperse. They refused and Clement unleashed a third advance, backed up by short-shield snatch squads. Known as Police Support Units (PSUs), these were a new development on the British mainland. An aggressive, consciously offensive form of policing, they were developed out of the Toxteth and Brixton riots of 1981 and modelled on some of the colonial riot tactics used by the Hong Kong police force. As the mounted police cantered out, the PSUs followed in their wake, delivering baton beatings to the unarmed miners.

Events did not end there. As a majority of miners headed off to Orgreave village for a drink, the police sweltered in the sun. Those miners still picketing the plant played football and goaded the police lines. As the hours passed, the police became increasingly frustrated. Now it was no longer about keeping Orgreave open; the police wanted it out with the miners.

Massively outnumbering the pickets, they started banging their shields with truncheons. Then came the PSUs. Then came the cavalry. Then came the charge. As miners fled the field, across railway lines and into the village, the police closed in. Miners were beaten on the field as they lay. But when the cavalry entered Orgreave village, they came under renewed attack from scrap-metal missiles. Clement's response was extraordinary: he ordered a mounted police canter through this small Yorkshire village. An out-of-control police force now charged pickets and onlookers alike on terraced, British streets. The full brutality of the police (Scargill himself had been injured by the end of the day) was only revealed later as prosecution after prosecution of "rioting" miners was thrown out. Instead, the South Yorkshire police force ended up with a huge compensation bill.

To many, Orgreave remains a symbol of resistance to Thatcherism's attempt to crush not only the miners' strike, but with it a culture and a community diametrically opposed to 1980s Conservatism. (The coking plant itself was later shut down and demolished.) As one reader puts it, the strike was a "struggle for a livelihood, for jobs, and even for the identity of communities devastated by political decisions to close pits without thought for the lives affected. The poverty, deprivation and oppression were terrible. Yet the bravery of the men, women and children in those communities is almost forgotten, the struggle has all but been erased from memory."

Orgreave has not been wholly forgotten. In 2001, a filmed re-enactment of the battle took place (only adding to its medieval feel) under the direction of conceptual artist Jeremy Deller and film-maker Mike Figgis. There is also a small plaque at the site. But readers feel that more must be done. Some have suggested an exhibition at the Beamish Industrial Museum, others, more detailed signage and interpretation at Orgreave itself. Clearly, this is a fraught element of our radical past that demands a fuller restoration.

I have no doubt at one time Saltley was a seperate village like at lot of others places. There is a good chance that it could have belonged to Staffordshire at one time. As Birmingham expanded during the industrial revolution like a lot of outlying places it was swallowed up. I will see what history I can come up with.

Phil

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Shirley

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Re: Alum Rock Saltley
« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2008, 08:52:15 PM »
Hi Cristy,

What number Ralph Road did you live at i lived at number 100, my best mates were Desmond and Eugene Riley sadley they were killed in in Birmingham Pub Bombings.

When were you at the Morris Commercial? i was there in 1966 i used to go there quite a lot circuit training with the morris swimming club and boxing and judo.

Dou you remember Rod Leader or Dean Cunningham?

P.S. i worked in the toolroom stores at the Morris

Sorry its taken so long to get back to you  :)

Regards,

Mike Shirley

Phil

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Re: Alum Rock Saltley
« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2008, 05:11:32 PM »
sueb

Continuing along the lines we were discussing earlier, I thought you might like to see a few of the chaps who disagreed with Ted Heath and his government in 1972.

These are but a few of the NUM picket at Saltley Gate.

Phil
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sueb

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Re: Alum Rock Saltley
« Reply #14 on: August 27, 2008, 08:13:20 PM »
Thanks for the picture Phil - were there thousands at Saltley Gate as there were in South Yorkshire?  And what actually happened at 'The Battle of Saltley Gate'?

Phil

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Re: Alum Rock Saltley
« Reply #15 on: August 27, 2008, 09:54:16 PM »
Sueb

Here is my interpretation of the Battle of Saltley Gate. As I am relying on my memory please forgive me if I don't get all the facts right or I miss something out, but I have done my best and yes it is a biased report.

During the course of 1972 there was very much agitation in the mining union. It was still the NCB  in those days (I think) and after repeated requests to Ted Heath government to increase wages in line with the national wage table they were getting nowhere.

After a two month overtime ban the government would still not cough up. A ballot was taken and an all out strike was voted for.

The power industry in those days were reliant on coal, and the coal shortage began to bite with the effect of many power cuts.

This is when coke (a by product of gas production) started being shipped out to power stations by lorry. The NUM soon learned of this and soon had pickets on the spot. These were closely followed by the police. Although there were a few minor scuffles the coke was still getting through. Of course the government started playing the sympathy card going on about the poor cold pensioners and children.

It wasn't working though because all the time sympathy was growing for the miners and many sympathy strikes in favour of the miners happened daily in other industries. The day after the government declared a state of emergency 40,000 AEU workers voted to come out on strike backing the miners. The next day 10,000 of them joined the 2,000 miners at Saltley.

The government sorry the Chief Constable with his 1000 police officers had no choice but to order the gates closed, and they remained that way until the strike was over.

Phil
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SADDLEBAG

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Re: Alum Rock Saltley
« Reply #16 on: August 03, 2009, 02:16:43 PM »
saddlebag
Hello, I am a new member and very interested in the Alum Rock area, I lived in George Athur Road from 1939-1965. Does anyone remember the dances at George Athur Road swimming baths during the winter months, when they used to board over the pool.
I am trying to construct a map of the shops along Alum Rock during the 1940's/50's starting from Washwood Heath Road (the 'Gate') up to Bowyer Road, also the shops in High Street from the Gate to Saltley Viaduct. If anyone could help with the shop names and type of business plus  there locations (for example 'Oldacres' hardware store, RH side going up the 'Rock' between George Arthur Road and Reginald Road) I would be very grateful.

Phil

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Re: Alum Rock Saltley
« Reply #17 on: August 03, 2009, 03:17:38 PM »
Hello Saddlebag

Welcome to the forum, I might be able to help you with the photos of Saltley and Alum Rock as I have quite a few of that area. I lived a little further down the road in Nechells during the 50's & 60's.

I remember Alum Rock because of using the Rock cinema and also coming up there on a Friday to the supermarket on the corner of George Arthur Rd as it was one of the first of its type in the area.

Here are a few photos to start you off, I'll sort out some more for next time.

Phil
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SADDLEBAG

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Re: Alum Rock Saltley
« Reply #18 on: August 03, 2009, 07:45:47 PM »
Phil
Thanks for the promt reply and the exellent photo's, any further information and photo's would be much appreciated.
Thanks again,  Saddlebag

Phil

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Re: Alum Rock Saltley
« Reply #19 on: August 03, 2009, 09:12:12 PM »
Hi again saddlebag,

Here are a few more photos to be going on with. I assume that you know the locations of the shops that why I am not adding any information as to exactly where they are located.

If you want any information on any of the shops in the 50's & 60's I have trade directories for 1950 & 1967 and I am sure that Mikejee another member of this site can fill in for other years that you may need.

In the meantime I'll see what else I can find photo wise.

Phil
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SADDLEBAG

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Re: Alum Rock Saltley
« Reply #20 on: August 04, 2009, 08:51:57 PM »
Phil
Thanks again for the photo's, most interesting especially the very old photo showing Saltley Methodist Church (which I think was the Wesleyan Hall at the time of the photo), also interesting to see the rows of front gardens. Although even now there are still a few houses up the 'Rock' with front gardens it's sad to look at this photo and compare it with the Rock as it is today - they call it progress!.
Thanks for the offer of info from your trade directories I will keep this in mind.

Daisy1

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Re: Alum Rock Saltley
« Reply #21 on: August 04, 2009, 09:36:29 PM »
Hello Shirley,
I see that you lived at 98. Ralph Rd. Were you there when Brian Niblett lived there, I am in touch with him.

Saddlebag, my husband Robert Jenkins lived in George Arthur Rd, I think you were a neighbour.

Regards Daisy1