Born in South Wales, Briscoe's family moved to Yorkshire early in the 1930s to find work. He left school at the age of fourteen to work at Markham Main Colliery, then during World War II served with the Coldstream Guards, participating in the Battle for Caen, at which he was nearly killed.
When the war ended, Briscoe returned to the mines, where he became active in the Yorkshire Area of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), being elected first to his branch committee, then as president of the branch at Armthorpe. From there, he was promoted to become Secretary of the NUM's Doncaster Area Panel, in which he developed a reputation as a supporter of militant action, including an unofficial strike in 1969.
Briscoe was elected to the NUM's national executive in 1972 then, the following year, as general secretary of the Yorkshire Area. He had stood as a member of the "Yorkshire Left" plaform, and defeated Bill O'Brien in the election. He was a staunch supporter of the UK miners' strike of 1984 to 1985, standing down shortly after its defeat.
- Jean McCrindle, "Fighter at the coal-face", The Guardian, 19 March 1992, p.37
- Winterton, Jonathan; Winterton, Ruth. Coal, Crisis, and Conflict: The 1984–85 Miners' Strike in Yorkshire. Manchester University Press. p. 18. ISBN 9780719025488.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
|Trade union offices|
|General Secretary of the Yorkshire Area of the National Union of Mineworkers
1973 – 1985