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The Collieries of Wales




Enamel Badges Of The National Union Of Mineworkers

Brian Witts.
Published by 917 Savage Pen
Orphans Press, Leominster, Herefordshire

Cost including post and packing £33
Cheques made out to Nine One Seven

c/o The author, Brian Witts
4 Balmoral Drive
Staffs WS12 4LT

A remarkable inspiring and fully comprehensive reference book to NUM strike and other NUM badges. This review of the book is by definition a bit limited since the book is in full colour, and each badge is illustrated. It would be somewhat of a cheat to reproduce the pictures here, so you can only guess at the magical kaleidoscope of colour and drama reflected in page after page of badges.

For the keen badge collector I guess this book might be a wee bit depressing. After all You think you’ve got a badge collection, you think you’ve got a couple of rare badges then you look through this collection and man you aint got nuthin ! Not that this is a real collection, this is a collection of photos of badges from every source which Brian could access, an actual assembly of these badges in the real world doesn’t exist
probably never could exist. Something getting on toward 2,000 badges, lodges, areas national, support badges, joint union solidarity badges ,trades councils, town support groups. Women’s Support Groups in all their colour variants are recorded here. Brian says he thinks he got most of them, but is sure a few are still out there undisclosed and undiscovered.

What this book demonstrates in such vivid terms is the massive impact of the 84-5 strike,then on a lesser scale the ’92 campaign too, not just in every colliery and every coal town in the country, but across scores of other unions and locations where nobody had ever seen a coal mine. It demonstrates the sheer pride, which the coal communities and their supporters had taken in making such an honest and determined stand. That we lost, and these badges and the names of the pits, and communities they represented were swiped from the board, is a tragic postscript to that bold effort. They stand now not so much as medals in our victory, but monuments to what we have lost. A loss without limit someone once called it, this badge collection, and the men women and children of those brave communities certainly reminds us of how extensive and exhaustive that was.

The book will be at once a reference work, for collectors to carry round with them to miner’s galas and mining memorabilia stalls etc when checking out the badges for sale, but is also a work of art in its own right. A book, which can be, browsed page after page repeatedly without loosing anything of its fascination.
The work itself, was put together, certainly as an act of love and a monument to the coal communities and the NUM but also more practically to raise money for the ongoing Justice For Miners Campaign, which still campaigns for the hundreds of miners sacked and blacklisted following the strike and their dependants.

There is a moving dedication to Rick Sumner who is the main stay and backbone of the Justice Campaign for which he has worked tirelessly for the last 25 years, by Ian Lavery the National President of the NUM. and a Forward by Rick himself.

The book seeks to tell a little of every badge and insofar as Brian was able to track down the designers and the lodge activists and supporters he has succeeded, only a nit picker would quibble at the mini histories which accompany the collection, and one can say that nie as damn it, they're all accurate.

I cannot recommend this book enough, to collectors of NUM badges certainly, but to Branch and coal community activist in general its one you’ll be proud as punch to have on your bookshelf, and standing front ways on so everyone can see it!

David Douglass