Saturday, 9 July 2011

Durham Miners' Gala. 9 July 2011

The Durham Miners' Gala   developed out of  miners' trade unionism, with the first Union being established in 1869. The Durham Miners' Union organised the first Gala  in 1871 and it developed into the largest unofficial miners and trade union gathering in the United Kingdom . It is  locally called "The Big Meeting" or "Durham Big Meeting". It is a highlight of cultural life in the North East of England.

There are no working pits left in the  Durham coalfield but the Gala remains a paean to the proud political and cultural heritage of the former  mining communities   which are   represented by colourful banners, each typically accompanied by a brass band, which are marched through Durham City to site of the old racecourse  where political speeches are delivered. In the afternoon a Miners' service is held in Durham cathedral.

This year two of the trapped Chilean Miners were guests of honour and a Chilean flag was flown on the balcony from which local and national dignitaries observe the procession..


  1. Fascinating. The first photo is classic. The style of these banners is pretty consistently 1890. In a way, it is sad to recognize that this way of earning a living is long gone.

  2. I know a couple of former miners, good fellows and not yet old enough to be retired. 25 years back there were 56 pits operating here in Yorkshire, now I think there are 3. Coal is still I think down there and we could certainly use it today, but times change and it will never happen.