The Oxford Mail devoted an enormous amount of space to strikes and walkouts by workers at the Cowley car factories.

But one dispute captured more headlines than most - when the wives fought back in an attempt to get their husbands back to work.

They showed they meant business by going on marches and parading with banners outside the car plant and trade union buildings.

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A strike by 150 drivers at the assembly plant in 1974 led to 12,500 other workers being laid off - and their wives were not happy.

One day, more than 250 of them marched to the factory demanding the dismissal of militant trade unionists who were leading the strike.

They then gathered at the nearby Cowley Workers Social Club, where a group of men cheered them off on their one-and-a-half mile trek to Transport House in Cowley Road.

Four small boys, each one carrying a placard, led the procession, during which there were regular chants of “Sack the Militants”.

Carol Miller, organiser of the women’s protest, said later: “I think the march was absolutely marvellous. I have had 11 letters from all over the place supporting us and two telegrams of congratulations.”

However, she was reluctant to support a suggestion by a member of the National Housewives’ Association that the women should refuse to have sex with their husbands until they went back to work.

The strike caused hardship to some families, including Derek and Rita Armstrong, of Charles Street.

Mrs Armstrong said: “We shall have stew for Sunday lunch and I’m getting in some cans of soup. Meat is so expensive. There will be no pocket money or sweets for the children.”

Janette Maule, of Brinkinfield Road, Blackbird Leys, said: “Meat is much too expensive and the children won’t have any sweets. My husband can’t go out drinking like he used to.”

Picture 1: Protest leader Carol Miller, second from right, with her fellow campaigners

Pictures 2 and 3: The march to Transport House in Cowley Road

Picture 4 and 5: Cowley wives at a Town Hall meeting

Picture 6: Scuffles as supporters of the strikers and peacemakers clash

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. 

He joined the team more than 20 years ago and he covers community news across Oxfordshire.

His Trade and Tourism newsletter is released every Saturday morning. 

You can also read his weekly Traffic and Transport newsletter.