Mick Renwick

Trade Union activist, Wobbly
Anarcho-syndicalist, anti fascist
Geordie working class hero.

Dave Douglass writes

I met Mick first when I just turned 14, we were in the first flush of that revolutionary generation that Bob Dylan had promised would soon shake your windows and rattle your doors , because we wanted change we were part of that huge current for change and revolution and peace which began to subvert our whole generation. Mick was in its vanguard..

It was he who, sitting in the smallie wee hoors of the morning in his living room after an underage drinking session roond the toon,  had revealed the sacred Bob Dylan, Times Area A Changing LP. I had heard nothing like it in my life.  I thought those words; those concepts were addressed to me. It was in the words of the Christian revivalists a revelation. We became aware of ourselves as a world wide wave of youth rebellion intent on shaking the system till it changed its ways or died.

First up at Heaton CND then in the faction that became the Tyneside Direct Action Committee and later the Committee of 100, demonstrating up at Holy Lock on the Clyde and down on numerous Aldermaston marches against the H Bomb and Atom Bomb which had come to the very wire of nuclear war and we were convinced our premature departure from life before we had the chance to live it.

Mick was a key character in a city movement, always around, always on the scene. Sex and drugs and rock and roll and revolution that was us. Mick was ‘a lad’ right enough. As our beatnik and mod strange new wave confronted the old culture, the teds, the biker gangs still in their white socks and greased back hair we were often attacked. We represented something strange and scary, politics, beat poetry, peace campaigns?

Mick was no mean street fighter and although we aspired at first to pacifism, he was a handy lad to have around because he wouldn’t easily see his friends attacked without wading in.

Mick had been born into a unique and dying community, for his Dad wasn’t simply a Northumbrian pitman, he was a Geordie pitman, he worked at the Rising Sun Wallsend. Mick lived in back to back Heaton, miners, railway men, and shipyard workers. He was raised in the strongly militant trade union tradition of the miners union and communities.

My life has been marked by Mick presence and Mick’s comradeship; we were together at Grosvenor Square, as we tried to storm the US embassy in solidarity with the Vietnamese people. On anti fascist mobilizations and punch up’s with the NF. He was for a time the Secretary of the Gateshead Trade Union Council and organised some of the Tyneside May Day best rallies. He was shoulder to shoulder with every battle the miners had from the 70’s 80’s and 90’s. raising funds, joining pickets. He developed a deep and lasting love of Bulgarian and Greek culture and spent every spare holiday there, became a self taught expert on all aspects of Bulgarian and Greek culture and history.

Me and Mick started our political careers as Anarchists, and then took brief detours through the woody glades of Trotskyism in the 70’s Mick to the Socialist Workers Party, me to the Revolutionary Workers Party. By the time of the Miners great strike we were both headed back to Anarchism. We both became enthusiastic founder members of the Industrial Workers of the World when it re-founded in Britain and it was this organization that Mick heart and soul has worked for in the last fifteen years. He has also been an enthusiastic member of the Follonsby Miners Lodge Banner Community Heritage Association and enjoyed greatly our joint work with the local Lingey House School on the Leam Lane who are part of that project. Mick was as proud as punch to be the only ‘political’ stall to be invited to the School annual sports and gala day, where he manned the IWW stall selling badges to the children and literature to their parents.

Mick’s last fight with cancers has been his hardest, and he wouldn’t yield. He smoked and drank to the end; he paraded and demonstrated when he could scarce stand. Indeed he very nearly died at last years Durham Miners Gala, but clinging onto the railings to hold himself up he refused to take a taxi to the hospital demanding that the Colpitts Pub was the only destination he was heading for. He went through Hell this last year. He refused to give up, always believed he’d beat this and come back.

Mick was my friend and comrade for over a half a century. We shared so much. My biggest bollocking from Mick was parking a car full of explosives outside his Gateshead house while we popped in for tea, only to find the angel cakes were laced with pot, and coupled with the broon sparked out all over the house, with the clock ticking on twenty years in jail sitting outside the front window.  We had the extreme privilege to have teenagers in the 1960’s and to setting ourselves a benchmark for freedom, for justice whatever the law said, until in our own 60’s we still aspired to those same values, because we couldn’t live any other way. Mick was a character roond the toons Gateshead and Newcastle were his stomping grounds, he met tens of thousands of people, debated with whole cities over the bar table. People all over Tyneside knew Mick; he will be a huge loss. You were a diamond marra! I will miss you in ten thousand ways.

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