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Stockers Copper 1913 Miners Strike

Posted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 11:25 pm
by Gower

The china clay industry was one of many developed across Britain during the early years of the industrial revolution. Based in Cornwall and Devon, production was approaching in 1910 a million tonnes a year, 75% of which was exported to the North American and European paper industries with a smaller amount going to UK pottery factories. ... nwall.html


.....It was mentioned earlier that in regard to party politics the region was actually leading, not copying, the rise of the British Labour movement by the end of the First World War. Underlying these developments on the electoral front was a growing confidence on the part of the trade unions in industrial areas like the Clay Country and the mining districts further west. Whatever the actual realities of the dispute, it perhaps took on added significance because of the absence of a trade union tradition in Cornwall. With the decline of the mining industry the Clay Country was „left as the isolated rump of extractive production in an otherwise de-industrialising economy‟.29 In these circumstances the 1913 strike provided a rare symbolic event that could define and articulate the values of the Cornish Labour movement. Although no Labour candidate actually stood in 1918, partly because the abolition of the old St Austell division meant that the Clay Country became part of the much larger seat of Penryn & Falmouth, it became the only major area in Cornwall in which the party made steady progress throughout the inter-war period. Although further research is required in order to conclude if there was a specific relationship between the strike and these subsequent developments, letters written to Acland in 1913 indicate that the strike did have a profound impact on the political culture of the time. J. F. Williams, a solicitor from Gorran Haven, remarked on 2 September that police tactics were making the strikers feel

„outcasts, with all society fighting against them‟:
I went round most of the clay district this afternoon in a motor. There were policemen everywhere. Te whole place had a Russian appearance. Groups of men were on the peaks of the St Austell Alps like the chamois in Cook‟s pictures of Switzerland. Te district is quiet – terrorised into quiet. But the whole countryside is full of rumours;
.....this morning in our little fishing village – and we have no connection with the strikers – over 11 miles away – there was a rumour that a man and a little girl had been killed by the Welsh strike-breakers – and things were said not pleasant for a Liberal to hear ." ... sequence=2

According to Wheal Martyn, from Cornwall's China Clay Museum in St Austell, as the strikers were running out of money they sold lots of their family treasures along with bicycles, pianos, pots and pans.
The situation came to a head when one of the strike's leaders, Howard Vincent, shot PC William Collett from Lostwithiel in the leg.
This incident shocked the strikers, who were already thinking about ending the strike.
Although they went back to work without a deal, within weeks the clay firms started to agree to the workers' demands.
Mr Costley said: "This was Cornwall's biggest strike, involving the whole community…..


Stockers Copper is a 1970s Play For Today film of the 1913 Clay Strike;