Red Ladder mark 40th anniversary of Miners’ Strike with Women Against Pit Closures comedy We’re Not Going Back

Victoria Brazier, left, Stacey Sampson and Claire O’Connor in We’re Not Gouing Back at Selby Town Hall. Picture: Lian Furness

IN the former pit town of Selby, radical Leeds troupe Red Ladder Theatre Company conclude Selby Town Hall’s spring & summer season tonight with a reboot of Boff Whalley’s We’re Not Going Back, marking the 40th anniversary of the 1984/85 Miners’ Strike.

Created by Chumbawamba founder Whalley and supported by Unite the Union, this musical comedy is set in the midst of the strike, but no miners are featured.

Instead, the focus is on the fortunes of three South Yorkshire pit-village sisters – Olive, Mary and Isabel – hit hard by the Conservative Government’s war against miners and determined to fight back with their own branch of Women Against Pit Closures.

The setting is February 1984, when the rumour mill stirs with news of impending pit closures as the coal miners’ unions anxiously prepare for the imminent confrontation with the government.

Forced into unemployment, miners and their families take up the fight and become part of a battle that will change the course of history. Through music, comedy and grit, the three sisters embrace the values of the strike and underline the empowerment, determination and vulnerability communities were faced with during the toughest of times.

Originally commissioned by Unite the Union in 2014 to mark the 30th anniversary of the strikes, this rebooted version of the show brings together all four original cast members, Victoria Brazier, Claire O’Connor, Stacey Sampson and Beccy Owen, who reprise their original roles.

 Writer Boff Whalley says: “It remains an important story to tell, and instead of focusing on the battle between miners, police and government, we shine a light on the thousands of women who organised and rallied in support the strike.

“For me, the strongest part – the heart of the miners’ strike – was always the family support, specifically the wives, mothers, sisters and daughters. Despite the outcome of the strike, all the hardship and poverty, the main memory of that year for the women was of laughter, fun and surprise – a big adventure. How to take on the machinery of the capitalist state and have a good time doing it.”

Directed by Elvi Piper, We’re Not Going Back is a reminder of the resilience of working-class communities; the make-and-mend fabric of family life and the power of sticking two fingers up to the government. All seasoned with song, good humour and a six-pack of Babycham!

“Red Ladder are one of the most highly regarded national touring companies around” says Selby Town Council arts officer Chris Jones. “Their work is always imaginative, impactful and full of heart. The remake of We’re Not Going Back has played at some big theatres this year, so we’re absolutely thrilled to be hosting the original cast here in the intimate surroundings of Selby Town Hall.”

Red Ladder Theatre Company in We’re Not Going Back, Selby Town Hall, July 4, 7.30pm. Box office: 01757 708449 or