With huge crowds expected at this year’s Durham Miners Gala, organisers have launched a new campaign to ensure the event remains a safe and peaceful day of celebration.
In its 150th year, the Durham Miners’ Association (DMA) is calling on everyone who attends to respect the meaning and traditions of the Gala, the host city, and the workers and volunteers who deliver the event.
It is now 25 years since the closure of the last colliery in Durham, but the Gala has undergone a resurgence in recent years, with attendance figures now approaching its post-war heyday.
Despite the huge crowds, Gala day is the safest and most peaceful day of the year in Durham, with fewer arrests than on an average Saturday in the city.
The growth of the Gala, and with new visitors expected this year, means there will be additional police and stewards along the parade route.
The Gala Respect campaign aims to ensure the 135th Big Meeting, on Saturday 13 July, continues the long-standing tradition of the Gala as a celebration enjoyed by all the family.
DMA Secretary Alan Mardghum said: “We are now in our 150th year, and it is a quarter of a century since the last pit was shut, but the Gala remains as a wonderful legacy of our coal mining heritage.That the Gala has survived, and is now thriving, is testament to the strength and the values of our communities across the coalfield. The Gala is and always has been a celebration of working-class life, community, and solidarity – and it is a great family day out. In that spirit, we call on everyone who attends this year’s Gala to look after each other.”
The DMA has four requests of Gala visitors:
- Respect the banners
Alan said: “Without the banner groups, the Gala may not have survived, and they are an essential part of the day. Banner groups are volunteers who raise funds, care for the banners, and organise brass brands for the day. Each banner is an expression of pride, a symbol of community, a connection to the heritage of our people and a priceless work of art. Please show your appreciation for the banners and help ensure they move safely through the city on Gala day.”
- Respect the bands
Alan said: “The brass bands provide the soundtrack to our great day and create a wonderful atmosphere throughout the city. Band members are volunteers, some of whom travel great distances to play at our Gala. Bands fundraise throughout the year to pay for the instruments that keep this great working-class art form alive. Please give the bands your full support, and please don’t impede their progress through the city streets.”
- Respect the emergency services and the stewards
Alan said: “The success and growth of the Gala means we require more police and more stewarding. Officers from Durham Police enjoy a great rapport with the crowds and are there to ensure that everyone stays safe and enjoys the day. Please give them your co-operation, and if you see anything of concern, please report the matter to your nearest officer.”
- Respect the environment
Alan said: “Everyone who attends the Gala is following in the footsteps of countless Durham miners and their families who have been travelling to Durham for their great Gala day since 1871. The racecourse is provided to us by Durham University. Please look after the city, and please place litter in bins along the route and at the racecourse.”
The 135th Durham Miners’ Gala will be held on Saturday 13 July 2019. Bands and banners will begin to gather in the Market Place from 8am. The parade then moves slowly down over Elvet Bridge, passes below the balcony of the County Hotel, along to the Old Racecourse by the River Wear, where the speeches will begin at 1pm.
The Miners’ Festival Service will begin in Durham Cathedral at 3pm.