Police have used riot gear for the first time since the miners’ strike began three months ago.
Forming the biggest picket of the strike so far, at least 5,000 miners gathered outside Orgreave coking plant near Sheffield.
The intimidation and the brutality that has been displayed are something reminiscent of a Latin American state
Arthur Scargill, NUM leader
They were met by police from ten counties. Altogether, 41 police officers and 28 strikers were injured.
Arthur Scargill, leader of the National Union of Miners, had called on miners to picket the plant to try and stop British Steel’s coke convoys.
He stood among his men as hundreds of police formed lines around the miners to try to stop them getting to the coke lorries.
Trouble broke out when pickets spotted the first convoy at about 0900 BST. They surged forward and there were running battles with police on horseback.
Smoke bombs, bricks, stones and ball-bearings were thrown and fencing torn up. Ambulance men wearing protective headgear led casualties away to safety.
Both sides pinned the blame on each other.
“We’ve had riot shields, we’ve had riot gear, we’ve had police on horseback charging into our people, we’ve had people hit with truncheons and people kicked to the ground.” said Mr Scargill.
“The intimidation and the brutality that has been displayed are something reminiscent of a Latin American state.”
South Yorkshire Chief Constable Peter Wright said officers had to wear protective helmets and use shields to allow the gates of the factory to remain open.
Mr Scargill is hoping to repeat the success of 12 years ago, when his pickets stopped coke deliveries at Saltley gasworks in Birmingham in his struggle to improve the lot of British miners.
But this time he seems to have failed – the 34 lorry drivers today managed to make two journeys unhindered and say they are determined to continue the coke runs.