The Big A Debate – Pre Debate Interviews

Wednesday 3rd of March 2010 saw the Big A Debate take place at the Potteries Museum Hanley. Some high profile names had agreed to be on the Panel and PitsnPots caught up with them before the event.

As well as the video’s we also have photographs and a full audio transcript on the way.

(*Please note the video shown here is fairly low quality due to a technical issue we had importing it. The HD versions will be available soon via youtube and will replace these videos.).

The Big A Debate – A Massive Success


The Big A debate at Hanley’s Forum Theatre last night [Wednesday] was a huge success and a complete sell out.

The organisers Alan & Cheryl Gerrard of the Art Bay Gallery in Fenton should feel enormously proud of their achievements and we hope to see many more independently organised events like this.

350 people packed into the Forum Theatre and witnessed a lively, at times angry, passionate and articulate debate that was littered with examples with traditional Potteries humour.

Ex miners from areas such as Durham, Nottingham, Derbyshire and Salford were in attendance.

Most of their anger was vented at Edwina Currie and she should be given credit for representing the right wing and for putting up with the tongue in cheek comments particularly those that alluded to her ‘relationship’ with John Major.

Have a look at our live feed of the night as we covered it live on ‘Cover It Live’.

Scott Sharman came along to the Big A Debate to take some pictures for us, they can be seen over on his Flickr page

We also captured some audio interviews with the audience as they were leaving the debate some you will know and some you won’t so have a listen.

Big A Debate – Your Last Chance!

The last few tickets are available for sale for tomorrow’s Big A debate on the miners strike of the 80’s.

Tomorrow evening sees a charity “Question Time” style debate discussing The Strike, but, more importantly, its national legacy. This takes place at The Forum Theatre, in Hanley, between 7.00 – 9.30pm (as an aside, the 3rd marks the exact 25th anniversary of the formal ending of The Strike).

Panellists include: George Galloway MP, Edwina Currie, the film director Ken Loach (Kes, Cathy Come Home), Mark Fisher MP and Mike Nattrass MEP and we’re accepting questions now to be presented to the panel on the evening.

This event and is to be filmed and will also be covered on Pits n Pots using the cover it live software that was used so successfully to cover the EDL rally.

Listen to the Audio Interview below with Alan Gerrard one of the event organisers.

The Big A Debate

In a city where almost every family was touched by the miners strike back in 1984 I am constantly surprised at how little is spoken of it even now some 25 years later.

Alan Gerrard of Theartbay Gallery is hoping that by holding a question Time style debate in the city in 2 weeks time he can get people to discuss the legacy of the miners strike and how it affects the way we live today.

Speaking to Alan about the event he said, ‘Regardless of your political and economic beliefs, The Miners’ Strike of 1984 – 1985 was akin to a British Civil War.

With the charismatic, but stubborn, hard line socialism of Arthur Scargill of The NUM taking on the equally intransigent free market economics of, Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, a battle ensued which was to affect millions of UK citizens, both directly and indirectly.’

He continued, ‘For instance, did the defeat of the miners signal a change in governmental attitudes towards freedom of speech? Has the general level of voter apathy increased since the Miners’ Strike? If we’d have supported our infrastructure more would we be paying the energy prices we do at present? Or did the attitude of blue collar workers and their unions in nationalised industries lie at the heart of the UK economy’s high inflation and inefficiency at the time? Did unions need a reality check? Ultimately, is Britain a better or worse place for The Miners’ Strike? Was Thatcher right? Was Scargill right?’

The Big A “Question Time” Debate is a charity event exploring The Miners’ Strike, its legacy and the issues that have lay open but unapproached for 25 years. A platform to express opinions about this significant period in Britain’s recent past – the effects of which are still felt today. A chance to learn from the benefit of hindsight.

Panellists include: world renowned film director Ken Loach, George Galloway MP, former South Derbyshire MP, Edwina Currie, Mark Fisher MP, Mike Nattrass MEP and David Hencke, Westminster Correspondent for The Guardian.

As this event is to have a “Question Time” theme, members of the audience may like to send in their questions to for possible discussion on the night. Like “Question Time” itself, the panellists won’t have any prior knowledge of the questions to be put to them.

There are a number of tickets still available for the event which can be purchased on-line or by calling in at the Artbay Gallery in Fenton.

Pits n Pots are delighted to be supporting The Artbay Gallery for this event and will be reporting from the event on the night.

Miners’ Strike Question Time – In Stoke-on-Trent, Wed 3rd March

Between February 26th and March 5th, there’s a programme of events to commemorate The Miners’ Strike of 1984 – 1985 and celebrate The Mining Industry.

One of the events is a charity “Question Time” style debate discussing The Strike, but, more importantly, its national legacy. This takes place at The Forum Theatre, in Hanley, on the evening of Wednesday 3rd March 7.00 – 9.30pm (as an aside, the 3rd marks the exact 25th anniversary of the formal ending of The Strike).

Panellists include: George Galloway MP, Edwina Currie, the film director Ken Loach (Kes, Cathy Come Home), Mark Fisher MP and Mike Nattrass MEP and we’re accepting questions now to be presented to the panel on the evening.

This event and is to be filmed, with a BBC Midlands Today crew in attendance, professional PA system and a wireless microphone system to allow audience participation.

Finally, if you have a question you would like the panel to address, either directly or indirectly linked to The Miners’ Strike and/or its legacy, you might like to send it in for airing on the night. Do note, however, that the questioner must be in attendance on the night.

Pits’n’Pots will be in attendance on the night to conduct interviews with the organisers and the panel of guests.

Tickets are priced at just £5 [£3 concessions]

For tickets or information contact:

Alan Gerrard

Theartbay Gallery

01782 844222

Gallery wants Your input for Miners’ Strike Exhibition

by Alan Gerrard of the Artbay Gallery, Christchurch Street, Fenton. (

I run a community focused art gallery in Fenton and much of our artists’ output reflects the changing face of Britain’s industrial landscape over the years.

As you are also probably well aware, The Miners’ Strike formally ended on the 3rd March 1985. One of the projects we would love to carry through is a large-scale, national exhibition, based in Stoke across several locations, celebrating the mining industry and commemorating The Miners’ Strike, thoroughly exploring the effects of both on the workers and their families, governmental policy and the economy in general. There has never really been an exhibition on this theme on this scale and we feel that if it doesn’t happen now it never will.

Some of the very simple but important questions we wish to address are: how did The Miners’ Strike change the lives of those involved at the time and into the future; has the closure of the pits been a good or bad thing for the economy, especially in the light of global warming; and how has The Strike affected industrial relations in the UK and the government’s attitude to protest.

As a gallery that likes to thought-provoke and encourages reaction, we want to bring together a wide range of media and sources to create a meaningful experience for our audience. On exhibition will be reflective paintings and sculptures by local and national artists, as well as letters and photographs contributed by those affected by The Strike. There’ll also be film and audio from the News coverage at the time, as well as historical footage showing the heritage of the mining industry. Inspired Film & Video are helping with this, together with Prof. Ray Johnson of Staffordshire University.

However, in addition, we would love to tackle the issues relating to The Strike head on by offering a rostrum for discussion between opposing views about the effects of The Miners’ Strike, as we feel the legacy of The Strike is very much still alive. Already MPs George Galloway and Mark Fisher have promised their attendance and we are very much impressed with the enthusiasm The Sentinel have given to the project thus far.

Ultimately, we want to attract people from around the country into Stoke-on-Trent for the exhibition and to raise the level of debate about the legitimacy of protest in the UK, the perceived erosion of freedom and the economic wisdom that lay at the heart of the decision to close the pits. Already we have promises of contributions from artists from Durham and Nottinghamshire.

We feel that the support of this site would be a great endorsement to the exhibition and would be a major factor in ensuring its success. It would also help to externalise next year’s centenary celebrations, by attracting an audience and list of exhibitors from well outside North Staffordshire.

If this is something you would like to be involved in, or contribute to; or if you would like more information, please contact Alan or Cheryl on 01782 844222.

25 years on

By Mike Rawlins


In light of the post by Alan over at The Art bay, I thought I would move this back to the front page.

25 years ago this week, Great Britain was at the start of what was going to be one of the longest periods of national strike in its history. It was also one of the defining moments in British industrial relations.

I remember seeing the strike on the news each night and in the papers but as a school boy living in the suburbs of Manchester I was not directly affected by the strike, nobody in our family were miners, nor did we know any miners.  Mining was something that went on north of the canal.

When I moved to Stoke I was working with guys my own age, whos families had been involved in the strikes, and who had been to work in the pits after leaving school in the late 80s until they were finally closed.  Later as I moved on I worked with other groups of people, who were a bit older and spoke about being out on strike.  I remember being told by one of the guys how he and his father had stolen a cow, killed it and tried to cut it up with a chainsaw so they could distribute it around their famliy and friends  so they had a decent meal.  Or the closest of friends who have not spoken a word to each other because one of them went back to work, before the strike was over.  He said they never fell out, they didn’t fight, they acknowledge each other if they pass in the street, but they have never spoken a word to each other since 1985.

We have a fair mix of ages and backgrounds here on PnP, so I hope we should get some decent comments.

Whether the strike was legal or not doesn’t matter after 25 years and the way the world has changed, what I am interested in is how did the strike affect you and your family?  Did you go out on strike, were you in the Police, did you see it from the other side? What did it do the local communities here in Stoke?

I have a genuine interest in the history of things like this and how they changed the way we live..

Have a look at this video for a reminder of what life on strike was like: