Candlelight, no heating and water leaks... the miners’ strike took its toll in ‘72

CHILLY NIGHTS ... pensioner Charlotte Johnson feeling the cold. Below, barmaid Carol Clark.
CHILLY NIGHTS ... pensioner Charlotte Johnson feeling the cold. Below, barmaid Carol Clark.

A STATE of emergency was about to be declared by the British government of the day.

A coal miners’ strike was having an impact on all aspects of our lives back in 1972.

A floodlight ban was declared by the cabinet’s emergency committee under the chairmanship of then home secretary Reginald Maudling.

And things were soon to get much worse, as families across the land were forced to eat by candlelight after their homes were plunged into darkness.

In South Shields, a 77-year-old woman sat in her damp downstairs flat, wrapped in woollens and an overcoat in a bid to keep warm.

Charlotte Johnson, of Cockburn Street, was suffering from bronchitis, and her doctor had put her on a coal priority list.

A note stating this had was twice been taken by her home help to the social security services department in the town’s Stanhope Parade, but still no coal arrived.

Water continually seeped into her run-down flat, and it was about to be demolished.

She told the Gazette: “I have been so miserable. I have had no coal and no heating for three weeks.

“I just put on as many clothes as I can to keep warm, but it is warmer just staying in bed.”

The pit walkout was in its fifth week, and pressure was growing on striking miners in South Tyneside.

George Stobbs, 16, a trainee miner at Westoe Colliery, South Shields, was spending most of his time on the picket line and was struggling financially.

He was told by his local social security office that he would be receiving no more benefit.

George said: “I had £11 savings, and I have got about £3 of that left.”

Amid the gloom, there was reason to be cheerful for Carol Clark, a barmaid at the Albemarle pub in South Shields.

She was off to London on Valentine’s Day after being named as a finalist in a national barmaid of the year competition.

Her daughters Kim, seven, and Diane, five, were hoping their mum would triumph.

Meanwhile, it was all power to the elbows of street-cleaners in South Shields after the introduction of a squad of electric vehicles.

to help them tidy up.