The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was formed in 1944, replacing the Miners Federation of Great Britain. At the request of the Midlands Area of the NUM, Warwickshire Miners’ Association changed its name to become the ‘National Union of Mineworkers (Warwickshire District) Midlands Area’. The change of name was approved and registered on 14 June 1946. Within the National Union of Mineworkers, the Warwickshire miners had less autonomy than before, which led to a general feeling that Warwickshire was being overlooked at Area meetings.
Proposed secession from the Midlands Area
In 1958, the pits in Warwickshire decided to leave the Midlands Area form their own Area within the National Union of Mineworkers. A. J. Pratt, the Warwickshire District Secretary and Agent, and E. A. Courts, a Midlands Area Agent, assisted in a legal action for the secession of the Warwickshire District, stating they were acting on the instructions of the ‘General Council for the Warwickshire District’. This went against the rules of the National Union of Mineworkers and was strongly disapproved of at national level. National officials met with Pratt and Courts, along with officials of the Midlands Area, and the national official stated that the line of authority was from the National Executive Committee, through the Midlands Area Executive Committee, directly to the branches. District Councils had no authority within the NUM structure, and their role was merely for benevolent matters.
However, it was decided at a meeting of the Warwickshire branches to proceed with the secession, and a special council meeting of the Midlands Area was convened with the hope of rectifying the situation. At the special meeting, the possibility of Warwickshire’s secession from the Midlands Area was voted down, and Warwickshire remained part of the NUM Midlands Area.
After the strike
Following the 1984-1985 miners’ strike Ansley Workshops, Birch Coppice, Baddesley, and Coventry Collieries remained loyal to the NUM. The miners at Daw Mill were split between the NUM and the Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM). Due to the decline of the mining industry, it was proposed that the Warwickshire District separate from the Midlands Area to merge with Leicester, South Derbyshire and Power Group to form a new Central Area. All Midlands Area divisions were paid £20,000 to transfer their offices to the National Union. During discussions regarding the transfer of the building it was discovered that the deeds were still legally under the ownership of Warwickshire Miners’ Association, despite the union’s change of name over forty years previously.
Fearing the UDM’s ability to claim ownership of the Miners’ Offices if they were to gain a majority in Warwickshire, the Warwickshire District opted to register as an independent trade union and return to being known as Warwickshire Miners’ Association. The payment was returned, securing both ownership of the offices and financial independence from the NUM. Warwickshire Miners’ Association continued with its benevolent functions until it was dissolved on 24 April 1998.
Cholmondley, A. J. (1984) ‘The First Warwickshire Miners’ Trade Union, 1872-1880’, Warwickshire History, vol. VI, no. 2, pp. 33-44.
Fretwell, L. (2005) ‘The Origins of the Miner’s Union’, The Warwickshire Coalfield, Vol. 3, pp. 152-159.
Warwickshire Miners’ Association, Warwickshire County Record Office, collection references CR1281, CR2793 & CR3323.