POA Circulars

77 | 02.07.2014

130th Durham Miners Gala: Saturday 12th July 2014

The Durham Miners Gala is celebrating its historic 130th year on the above date. The Durham Miners Association have invited Dennis Skinner MP for Bolsover, Paul Kenny GMB General Secretary, Christine Blower NUT General Secretary, Mick Whelan ASLEF General Secretary and myself to speak from the platform at the Racecourse. This is also a significant year being the 30th Anniversary of the Miners’ strike. I am privileged to have been invited to speak at this historical event.

Traditionally, the colliery bands would march through their villages starting early in the morning and then make their way to Durham from all directions and, in the main, that tradition remains today. The main assembly point is the city centre Market Place and bands and banners start to march from there to the Racecourse from about 8.30am. Other assembly points are the Miners’ Headquarters at Red Hill near the railway station and the New Inn on the west of the city.

The focal point of the Gala is the County Hotel at Old Elvet where the two legs of the procession converge. Here, Union Leaders, invited guests and local dignitaries greet the march from the hotel balcony and the bands pause to play their “party piece” before marching the short distance to the Racecourse where there is a platform for the speakers.

The procession can take three to four hours to pass the County Hotel due to the huge numbers attending and the frequent pauses at the Hotel. However, a wonderful atmosphere of street theatre is created there, making the occasion more of a trade union fiesta rather than a march.

On the Racecourse, the banners are strapped to the surrounding fences creating a colourful tapestry of working class history. On the riverside, there are rides for the children and stalls selling everything from books to merchandise. In the marquees, there are many exhibitions and a place where tea and sandwiches can be purchased.

At 1pm, the platform party with invited speakers arrives and the Chairman opens the meeting. After the speeches, four or five selected bands and banners march to the Cathedral for the Miners’ Service.

The Durham Miners Gala is a fantastic celebratory weekend and I would encourage our members to attend if possible

Your sincerely


General Secretary