The 132nd Durham Miners Gala

More than two decades after the last pit closed in the Durham coalfield the Miners Gala or the Big Meeting as it is known locally remains as popular as ever with over 150,000 expected to attend this year for the 132nd gala. The gala forms part of the culture and heritage of the area and represents the communal values of the North East of England. The gala sees traditional colliery bands march through the city ahead of their respective pit banners and pass the County Hotel building where union leaders, invited guests and dignitaries gather on the balcony before then heading to the racecourse area for a day of entertainment and political speeches. Beginning in 1871 the gala is now the biggest trade union event in Europe and many thousands of people continue to attend each year.

Here’s a few from today…

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The real Northern Powerhouse

More than two decades after the last pit closed in the Durham Coalfield the Durham Miners Gala or the ‘Big Meeting’ as the event is also known remains as popular as ever. The Gala forms part of the culture and heritage of the area and represents the communal values of the North East of England. The 131st gala held today saw the traditional colliery bands marching through the city ahead of their banners before passing the County Hotel and heading down to the Racecourse. In the early years of the meet those attending left their villages early in the morning and then made their way on foot to Durham from all directions but these days people either drive or arrive on buses.

Beginning in 1871 the Gala is now the biggest trade union event in Europe and many thousands of people still meet up in the market place of the city to follow their banner and pass the County Hotel on Old Elvet as they walk past union leaders, invited guests and local dignitaries who greet the march from the hotel balcony.

Once all the bands have passed through speeches are held on the racecourse. Amongst those speaking this year or joining to march with the procession (and shown in some of the pictures below) were Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn and Liz Kendall. Tosh McDonald, the president of ASLEF – The Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen – and Owen Jones, a columnist with the Guardian newspaper and political activist and many more.

The contemporary artist Grayson Perry also attended. Visiting the gala as part of a documentary he is making and the actor Alun Armstrong, the son of a miner and originally from Anfield Plain in County Durham stood on the County Hotel balcony.

More importantly though than all of these guests and trade union speakers and their rhetoric are the men, women and children who attend the miners gala each year without fail and who make the event the occasion that it is. These people and the pride in the mining heritage of the region is where the real northern powerhouse is to be found: The group of ladies who arrive very, very early each year to secure the same place on the steps near the market place who start the day with strawberries and pink champagne.

To Nora Newby, a wonderful 81 year old from Chilton who has attended 60 out of the last 61 gala’s who arrives at around 6am on the morning of gala day to stand in the same spot each year. The missed year was so that she could attend her granddaughters wedding! An unfortunate tongue-in-cheek fact that she reminds (scolds) her granddaughter of often.

Former miner Billy Raine, 89, from Easington is a regular who entertains the crowds outside the County Hotel wearing his orange coveralls and miners hat as he dances and salutes as the bands perform and of course the thousands more who attend but especially the colliery bands and the former miners and miners wives who make this occasion what it is and who help create an event that continues to bring well over 100,000 people back year after year. Long may it continue.

CLICK to listen and recorded today: Gresford – The Miners Hymn

To keep the Durham Big Meet going any contributions and support are welcome through the Friends of Durham Miners Gala website.

 

Some of the pictures that I shot from the day are below. Enjoy Marra.

 

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Strawberries and pink champagne0004

Nora Newby, 81, from Chilton0005 0007 0008 0009 0010 0011

Grayson Perry0012 0013 0014 0015 0016 0017 0018

Former miner Billy Raine, 89, from Easington0019

Alun Armstrong (centre)0020 0021 0022 0023 0024 0025 0026 0027 0028 0029 0030 0031 0032 0033 0034 0035 0036

Labour MP Liz Kendall0037 0038 0039 0040 0041 0042 0043 0044 0045 0046 0047 0048 0049 0050 0051

Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn0052 0053 0054

Tosh McDonald, the president of ASLEF – The Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen 0056 0057 0058 0059

Owen Jones0060 0061 0062

 

 

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Images copyright Ian Forsyth /  Getty Images

No usage without arrangement.

All rights reserved

Durham Regatta

Durham Regatta has its origins in the annual procession of boats, originally organised by the Sheriff of County Durham and the Rt. Hon. William Lloyd Wharton, in June 1815 to celebrate the victory at the Battle of Waterloo. The event included the firing of cannon and a meal with beer for those who had fought in the battle.

The annual procession of boats continued for many years, but Durham Regatta in its present form dates back to 1834, with racing taking place over two days on the River Wear between Prebends Bridge and Pelaw Wood over a 750m short course and a long course over one and a quarter miles.

The regatta is the second oldest in the country, preceded only by Chester Regatta and pre-dates the Henley Regatta by 5 years. It is expected to attract around two thousand competitors from across the United Kingdom and bring in around and ten thousand spectators through the weekend.

The 182nd Durham Regatta took place this weekend so I went along on Saturday and shot a few pictures…

 

 

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Images copyright Ian Forsyth 2015 / London News Pictures

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Boxing Clever

I was in Horden in County Durham a couple of days ago on assignment for Getty Images shooting material for a pre-election feature on the town. During the day that I spent there I came across a boxing club and after a little digging found out that it was open later that evening so I decided to go along to Horden Amateur Boxing Club and have a chat and try to arrange to shoot a few pictures.

On the evening I went back and there were around 15 people attending, ranging in age from 10 to 27 all under the expert eye of head trainer, Liam. During a relatively short period of time I photographed them training and it was good to see the commitment and dedication of the youngsters to their training and the keenness that they went about the training they were asked to do.

It offers the boxers and especially the youngest amongst them an opportunity to commit to something and gives them an outlet and it’s a place I’d like to go back to and spend a little more time there than I had the other evening.

Below are a few of the pictures I shot in the brief time I was there….

 

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Pitmen’s Pride

From early morning on the twelfth of August in 1871 groups of miners and their families made their way steadily towards the City of Durham. Like small conquering armies they headed towards the cathedral city along the small roads and tracks that snaked through the countryside marching behind heavy canvas banners held aloft by those at the head of the column. Many travelled by foot but some rattled their way towards the city on horse drawn wagons. The pitmen, whilst a little apprehensive about the welcome they might receive from the city folk marched proudly and with purpose.

The city people were not happy that these pitmen were making their way towards their city. They were, in the eyes of those who lived within the relative comfort of the city, a race apart. Living hand to mouth in small isolated villages they eked out a meagre existence. These pitmen who lived constantly within earshot of the clatter of the winding engines and who were always covered by the ever present black dust that permeated everything they owned. Living in their small homes engulfed with the sulphurous fumes that spewed from the ventilation furnaces they appeared, at least to the city dwellers like marauding clans. Coming into their city and taking pleasure in the ale-houses, gambling at pitch and toss or wagering on cockfights. On their way to town they poached the squire’s pheasants and game and stole turnips from his fields and if all of this wasn’t bad enough it was their smouldering discontent, which could erupt at any moment into riot, that was feared most.

 

These days the Durham Miners Gala is no less lively or busy. The people still come but these days they make their way into town in buses or cars rather than making the long walk. People are still partial to the odd pint…or several and in its recent past even the odd fight…or several have been known to break out. But generally speaking the Gala, or ‘Durham Big Meet’ as it is called locally is a little less troublesome. There is a little less of the smouldering discontent and more of a carnival atmosphere pervades. But some still remains. As the speakers, including long time Labour MP and former miner Dennis Skinner address the crowds at the racecourse once the march through the town has ended the political and trade union rhetoric is strong. Feelings remain high among the gathered crowds who listened to the speakers. It always will be in what remains a strong Labour and union area. But in as far as the pits are concerned the winding engines have slowed to a halt. The black dust has now settled. The sulphurous fumes no longer rise into the air and where once a hundred mines made up the mighty Durham coalfield today none remain.

 

Events this Saturday began with many hundreds of people coming together in the Market Place – the main assembly point for the start of the parade through Durham. The colliery brass bands play with vigour as they are followed by their respective banners. Carried by proud men from the outlying towns and villages. Behind these come those with allegiances to those former great colliery villages and together they begin the march from there to the racecourse. Many hundreds of people stand watching along on the route and applaud them as they pass. As they come to the County Hotel on Old Elvet they pause as each band plays a tune to the union leaders the invited guests and local dignitaries who greet the march as they look down from the hotel balcony before stepping off again on the last part of their journey through town.

With thousands of people watching or taking part in the procession it can take three to four hours to pass the County Hotel but an amazing atmosphere of street theatre is created making the occasion more a fiesta than a march.

On arrival at the Racecourse a platform awaits for the speakers to address the crowds. The racecourse quickly fills up with everyone sitting around on the grass. A thousand picnics. There is a lot of drink. Around the perimeter of the field there are food stalls, funfairs and rides offering excitement and thrills to those willing to have a go. Bells, whistles and loud music rise up from the showground amusements in an endless and confusing din as they compete for trade. The smell of food floats through the crowds. Burger stalls. Chips. Candy Floss. Ice cream. Children run playfully amongst the crowds. Younger people drink and have a laugh. Groups of lads show off to groups of girls. Groups of girls show off to groups of lads. Older people and families sit amongst them. The banners that were carried with pride through the city are now all secured to the perimeter fence. Colliery and town band instruments placed carefully at the foot of them. Marking their spot.

 

This year is the 30th anniversary of the miners strike and Durham Big Meet remains a colourful tapestry of traditions and working class history. Police said around 100,000 people attended this meet – the biggest attendance since the miners strike. It remains more about the people than the politics. This is how it should be but both are intertwined. It is about the people who take part or line the streets. Especially for the younger people or children who will come to know and understand an important part of their regional history. It remains a source of great pride and long may it be so and yet it is also tinged with some sadness. Sadness for an industry lost forever to the people of the Durham coalfield.

 

The following poem is by John McNally.

A miner of the Morrison Busty Colliery, Annfield Plain.

The Durham Big Meeting

I see them invade our fair city, their coloured banners high.

I hear the martial music, as each lodge goes marching by,

My heart is filled with northern pride that all we miners know,

And I, with teaming thousands more, reflect an inner glow.

Oh! Come you Durham miners, come across the River Wear,

With many a laugh, and many a song, and many a hidden tear.

With banners fluttering in the breeze, and many a head held high,

Each Lodge comes gaily into view, and then goes marching by.

As I pass the County, each band outplays the rest,

For there the miners’ leaders stand, with many an honoured guest.

I wonder what our leaders feel, like generals, as they view,

The best shock troops of Europe were never quite as true.

They must be proud, Sam Watson, Jimmy Kelly, and the rest,

To know that passing years have proved they really stood the test.

Above the River Wear so proud, erect, serene,

The beautiful Cathedral lends its grandeur to the scene,

As it has done through all the years the miners rallied here,

A monument to all their hopes, and to their God so near.

So yearly let it still unfold, this pageantry so dear,

And let the miners’ lodges march across the River Wear,

And, we’ll be there, we Durham men, to give a Durham greeting,

To welcome all the miners as they come to their BIG MEETING.

Below are a few of my shots from the day…..

Durham Miners GalaOne of the colliery bands and their banner stops outside the balcony of the County Hotel to play in front of large crowds

Durham Miners Gala

Nora Newby, 80, from Chilton is one of the first to arrive. Standing in the same spot from 6am for 59 years.Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala

Former miner Billy Huitson, 88, stands and salutes one of the colliery bands as it arrives at the County HotelDurham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners GalaDurham Miners Gala

Durham Miners Gala Long time Labour party politician and former miner Dennis Skinner addresses the crowds on the racecourse

Durham Miners Gala

Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners GalaDurham Miners Gala

 

 

CAMERA INFO – All my pictures from the day were shot with a Fuji X-Pro 1 fitted with an 18mm f2 lens (27mm equivalent) and a Leica M9 fitted with a 50mm f2 Summicron lens. The Summicron lens was also fitted with a 3 stop ND filter allowing me to shoot at wider apertures in the bright sunshine. All pictures were subsequently edited using Lightroom 5.5 and Photo Mechanic. Some minimal dodge and burn techniques were used on some of the pictures using Photoshop CS3. No excessive manipulation of any images was carried out and any editing was in line with what could be achieved in a traditional darkroom.

 

See more of my work on my website and blogs via the link…… HERE

Images remain copyright Ian Forsyth / London News Pictures 

No usage or reproduction without permission

Here comes the Bishop

The Right Reverend Paul Butler attends his inauguration service in Durham Cathedral, England. The Bishop has served as the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, and previously as the Bishop of Southampton. He becomes the 74th Bishop of Durham.

Out and about in Saltburn

Out and about in Saltburn

Out and about in Saltburn

Out and about in Saltburn

Out and about in Saltburn

Out and about in Saltburn

Out and about in Saltburn

Out and about in Saltburn

Out and about in Saltburn

Out and about in Saltburn

Out and about in Saltburn

Out and about in Saltburn

Out and about in Saltburn

Out and about in Saltburn

Out and about in Saltburn

Out and about in Saltburn

Out and about in Saltburn

Out and about in Saltburn

Out and about in Saltburn

Out and about in Saltburn

Out and about in Saltburn

Out and about in Saltburn

Out and about in Saltburn

Out and about in Saltburn

Out and about in Saltburn

Out and about in Saltburn

Out and about in Saltburn

Out and about in Saltburn

Out and about in Saltburn

Out and about in Saltburn

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Pictures copyright Ian Forsyth/Getty Images 2014

Lumiere lights up…

The Lumiere Light Festival comes to the City of Durham for the third time this weekend and brings large scale projections, neon lights and light installations all used to create a nocturnal art trail through the city….here’s a small selection from earlier this evening….

 

Lumiere lights up Durham

‘Crown of Light’

A projection onto the Cathedral featuring illuminated manuscripts from the Lindisfarne Gospels

Lumiere lights up Durham

‘The Other Side of the Wall’

A visitor looks on at artwork created by sixty offenders from County Durham’s three prisons and one Young Offender’s Institution who worked with the artists to create this installation. Each participant was invited to fill two perspex boxes. One depicting moments from their past and another showing how they see their future.

Lumiere lights up Durham

‘Elephantastic’

A 3D optical illusion of an elephant is projected onto an archway

Lumiere lights up Durham

‘Fete’

An atmospheric installation conjuring up the sights and sounds of an abandoned country fairground

Lumiere lights up Durham

‘Keyframes’

Illuminated stick men come to life and invade the former Miner’s Hall in the City

Lumiere lights up Durham

‘Durham Lumiere’

Lanterns light up the river bank along the River Wear

Lumiere lights up Durham

‘Aquarium’

An iconic red telephone box is transformed into an exotic fish tank

http://www.lumiere-festival.com/

www.ianforsythphotography.co.uk