The sentencing of eight Cramlington miners to penal servitude for derailing a train during the General Strike

Event date(s)

1 July 1926

Description/importance

On the 10 May 1926 a group of striking miners from Cramlington in Northumberland removed a section of railway a few miles north of Newcastle in order to stop any further movement of trains. As a result, an Edinburgh to London express (the Flying Scotsman) was derailed between Annitsford and Cramlington. Although there were between 500 and 600 passengers on the train only one was hurt. The railway workers were amongst those who participated in the General Strike of 1926, and by the time this train was derailed only a very small number of goods trains and passenger trains were running on the London and North Eastern Railway. The General Strike was called by the TUC in support of the miners. The mineowners wanted to increase the miners’ working hours and decrease their wages. As the miners would not accept this, on 3 May, the mineowners locked the miners out of the mines. Thus the slogan of the Miners’ Federation was ‘Not a minute on the day, not a penny off the pay.’ The General Strike began one minute before midnight on 3 May and was widely supported by workers in a variety of industries. The regional strike committee for the North East was based in Newcastle, and the miners in the Northumberland and Durham coalfields played a central role in the dispute. As the strike intensified the government responded by deploying tanks and armoured cars in some of the more militant areas, and sending a warship to Newcastle.

Location/map point

Address

Moot Hall
Castle Garth
Newcastle
Tyne and Wear
NE11RQ

Further reading

T. Mason, The General Strike in the North East (1970), G. Phillips, The General Strike: the politics of industrial conflict (1976), J. Skelley, The General Strike, 1926 (1976), R.A. Florey, The General Strike of 1926: the economic, political and social causes of that class war (1980), K. Laybourn, The General Strike of 1926 (1993), H. Barron, The 1926 Miners’ Lockout: Meanings of Community in the Durham Coalfield (2010). Four volumes of transcripts of oral history interviews about the General Strike can be accessed in Gateshead Central Library. Newcastle City Library has newspapers from the period and a very useful information pack on the strike: Archive Teaching Unit, The General Strike 1926.  See also: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/cabinetpapers/alevelstudies/the-general-strike.htm

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