Mary is politicised..by a miners’ strike and working with women from North of England..
The five years during which I was face to face, day after day, with every conceivable trouble caused by poverty have left an indelible mark on my mind and spirit, and coloured the attitude which I cannot help taking on social and economic problems. And I am inclined to think that an attitude inspired by actual experience face to face with those suffering under economic conditions is sounder than that of those whose attitude has been inspired by academic knowledge learnt from books and lectures. During these five years and experience stands out which has, for instance, coloured all my ideas about the mining industry. I was asked to take charge of a party of miners’ wives who were being brought up to London by the Sun Newspaper during a coal strike in a small North country town. I took rooms for them in a small hotel in the Smithfield market area and stayed there with them for three weeks. We arranged demonstrations, street corner collections, deputations. I went back with them to their home town and we received such a welcome from the miners there that it was only with the help of a miner and a policeman and with torn clothes that I managed to reach the house where I was to stay the night. We had won the strike. That night I had to speak in two chapels crowded to the roof and the Salvation Army barracks. Next day I went down the mine and walked half a mile from the pit mouth. A rather nerve racking experience
as we were told that during the strike the roof had been neglected and might collapse at any moment.
A parson who was to have descended with us, turned tail at the last moment. He said he had responsibilities and I had none so it was all right for me to go down. But since then I have never felt we pay too much for coal, nor can I ever help taking the part of the miners in any dispute as to hours and wages.