Area Director

Scope and Content

Papers of Philip Weekes, Director, National Coal Board, South Wales Area, comprising files concerning the Miners' Strike of 1984-1985. Some files contain reference material dating before 1984 and this is reflected in the date range of the material.

Administrative / Biographical History

Philip Gordon Weekes (1920-2003) was Director of the National Coal Board's South Wales Area from 1973-1985. Frustrated in equal measure by the confrontational styles of the leadership of both sides in the miners' strike of 1984-85, he strove for a peaceful outcome - though he knew that the prospects of a deal were way beyond reach.

Early in 1985, as the dispute was waning, Weekes refused an order from the NCB chairman Ian MacGregor to offer redundancy to every miner in his coalfield, irrespective of whether or not they were working at a profitable pit. Before the strike began, he privately urged local union leaders to heed the message from their members, who had voted against industrial action in pithead ballots.

Weekes also secretly negotiated with the chief constable of south Wales, and with local union leaders, to ensure that the dispute was policed by local constabularies. He worked tirelessly to ensure that the unions provided sufficient cover to maintain pumps and safety inspections so that work could resume promptly once the strike was over.

Towards the end, while touring his pits, he was observed talking to pickets at the gates of Bedwas colliery. During the conversation, he lit a cigarette - only to have the gesture interpreted in high places as 'collaboration'.

[Sourced from Meredith, Mike, 'Philip Weekes: A Moderating Voice in the Mining Industry', an obiturary written for The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/news/2003/jul/07/guardianobituaries, accessed 31 Jul 2017].

Arrangement

Order at time of deposit retained.

Custodial History

This subfonds is made up of material presented by the British Coal Corporation. An accession number for the material has not been identified, however the material was placed under the reference DNCB/67.