UNISON Northern Ireland

The 133rd Durham Miners’ Gala was held on Saturday 8th July 2017

UNISON activists for across the Northern Ireland branches turned out in force to support this very important and long standing event in the trade unionist calendar.

The Durham Miners' Gala is a large annual gathering held on the second Saturday in July in the city of Durham, England. It is associated with the coal mining heritage (and particularly that of miners' trade unionism) of the Durham Coalfield, which stretched throughout the traditional County of Durham.

The following information can be found on http://www.durhamminers.org/gala and gives a flavour of what can be expected from this day of solidarity and activism.

The focal point of the Gala is the County Hotel at Old Elvet where the two legs of the procession converge. Here, the union leaders, invited guests and local dignitaries greet the march from the hotel balcony and the bands pause to play 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 a fiesta 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 fast food. 

In the marquees, there are many exhibitions and a place where tea and sandwiches can be bought run by the Durham Labour Party. And, on a field overlooking the racecourse, there is a fun fair with some scary rides for the more adventurous.