The Battle of ‘Saltley Gate’ 40th Anniversary

An image of the Saltley Gate Banner Theatre Programme.

(Ref: MS/1611/A/4)

‘The Rover workers came, close the gates, close the gates
From Fishers just the same, close the gates
The women from S.U.
The Morris workers too
To Saltley Gate they drew, close the gates, close the gates
To Saltley Gate they drew, close the gates.’

This is the first verse of a song written by Dave Rogers of Banner Theatre for the company’s multimedia show ‘Saltley Gate’ produced in 1976, based on hours of interviews and tape recordings with miners, car workers, and factory workers involved in the mass picket of Saltley coke depot at Nechells Green in Birmingham on Thursday 10 February 1972.

The miners were on strike but coke was still being collected from the stockpile at Saltley depot. In solidarity, hundreds of workers fromBirminghamand elsewhere marched to the depot and forced it to close. This prevented coking coal being moved to other gas works and contributed to the success of the national miners’ strike.

The ‘Saltley Gate Show’ was billed as a celebration of working class solidarity.  In 1977, the play was performed inLondonin support of the Grunwick strikers, a campaign that similarly called on mass support from the labour movement, including the miners.

The show was revived by Banner Theatre in 1992 for the twentieth anniversary of the event.

Birmingham Archives and Heritage hold the archives of Banner Theatre [ref: MS 1611] and of Charles Parker, one of the founder members [ref: MS 4000]. The catalogues for both collections are available online.  See especially: MS 4000/2/152;  MS 4000/6/1/74;  MS 1611/B/9].

‘A solid wall are we, close the gates, close the gates
Our strength is unity, close the gates
No power in the land
Can gain the upper hand
When we united stand, close the gates, close the gates
When we united stand, close the gates, close the gates.’

Support Banner Theatre on the fortieth anniversary of this great occasion at the performance of their current show ‘Fighting the Cuts’.

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