Many NZCFS members will remember the late Dave Feickert, who was President of the Whanganui branch, and who did many good things in helping miners around the world, such as working to reduce what had been the appalling death rate among Chinese miners – for which he was awarded a Friendship medal by the Chinese Government. Latterly, he was one of the team of mining engineers who worked on behalf of the Pike River disaster families to recommend how the bodies of their loved ones might be recovered, besides which Dave also presented a submission on the Pike River Disaster Royal Commission. See his biography for more details.
Few in New Zealand knew that he worked for a number of years as researcher for the NUM, the UK miners’ union, during the Arthur Scargill era and he lived through the trauma of the miners’ strike 1984-85 and the virtual demise of the UK coal industry.
Sometime after he sadly died (in 2014), Jing, his second wife, told us that Dave had written a book about his experiences in the UK.
We said, “We would very much like to get Dave’s book published,” and Jing kindly gave us access to Dave’s files.
David Creedy, another member of the Pike River disaster team of mining safety engineers, completed the editorial team.
The book, entitled ‘Britain’s Civil War Over Coal – an Insider’s View’, has now been published (see details below).
This book is a personal memoir, insightful and often humorous, from someone at the heart of an industry fighting for its life. It is also an analysis of the role of the coal industry in the economic and political life of the United Kingdom.
It starts in 1974 with the first oil shock, and tracks the increasingly central role of energy policy in national decision making. At the same time, it throws a new light on the determination of the Thatcher government from 1979 onwards to use the defeat of the National Union of Mineworkers to herald in a new era of industrial relations.
It charts the passionate, muddled, and sometimes inspired fightback of the NUM, as well as the decisions made during the ‘civil war’ year of the 1984/85 UK miners’ strike.
This is a story of the death of one of Britain’s major industries and of the human foibles of the individuals involved, disclosing strategies and alliances which are not recorded elsewhere. From a uniquely privileged perspective, Dave Feickert’s account reveals the personalities and dilemmas of those on all sides of the industry fighting to save it from annihilation.
“Britain’s Civil War over Coal– an Insider’s View”, by David Feickert, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2021, 412pp, hardback. ISBN 1527567680.
For the appropriate Amazon.com page, click HERE.
Jing Bingjiang Feickert, Dave’s widow, will donate all proceeds to a New Zealand miners’ charity.
Duncan and Teri France, September 2021.