135 Durham Miners Gala

The 135th Durham Miners Gala on July 13, 2019 in Durham, England.

Over two decades after the last pit closed in the Durham coalfield the Miners Gala or Big Meeting as it is known locally remains as popular as ever with close to 200,000 people expected to attend this year.

The gala forms part of the culture and heritage of the area and represents the communal values of the North East of England and sees traditional colliery brass bands march through the city ahead of their respective pit banners before pausing to play outside the County Hotel building where Labour politicians, union leaders, invited guests and dignitaries gather before continuing to the racecourse area for a day of entertainment and speeches.

Beginning in 1871 the gala is the biggest trade union event in Europe and is part of an annual celebration of socialism. This year also marks the 150th anniversary of the Durham Miners’ Association. The gala is hosted by the DMA who provide a range of services for its members, former Durham miners, these services include compensation claims, benefit information, tribunal representation and legal advice.

My coverage of the day started at 6am as it does on every gala day and I first headed across town to the DMA building at Redhills to document the Durham Miners Association brass band as they formed up and set off on their march through the city to the County Hotel.

From there I moved onto the political aspects of the Big Meeting and did some coverage of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as he posed on the balcony of the County Hotel and then covered him as he made his way to the main stage to deliver his speech to the audience.

Along the way I also tried to cover some of the other colliery bands as well as the occasion. As always it was a long and busy day but one that so far, remains good to photograph.

Image (c) Ian Forsyth / Getty Images

See more of my work in my galleries & blog at Room 2850

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