Back the Big Meeting | The #DurhamMinersGala is one of the world’s biggest working-class festivals and celebrations of community and trade union values and it needs your help – Can you make a regular donation? Become a friend – friendsofdurhamminersgala.org/join_us via @durhamgala pic.twitter.com/mlQgU9hdHL
The 135th Durham Miners’ Gala will be held on Saturday 13th July 2019. Please support the Big Meeting by joining Friends of Durham Miners’ Gala.
A number of people who have never been to the Big Meeting have asked us to publish on our website the time it begins, where to assemble and other details.
This is a simple request but requires a quite complicated answer because the Gala is not like a normal trade union march. In fact, it has no start time, no finish time and no one place of assembly.
Traditionally, the colliery bands would march though their villages starting early in the morning and the 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’ HQ 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, the 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 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.
At 1pm, the platform party 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.Whether you are a believer or not, this is worth a visit for the sheer dramatic experience.
Back on the Racecourse, the banners are lifted when the various miners’ lodges decide it is time to go and march back to the County Hotel where they play another tune exuberantly but, sometimes, a little less professionally due to the intoxicating effects of the day’s celebratory atmosphere.
The centre of Durham is closed to traffic from 7.00 am but access is possible, for those who arrive early, to the multi-storey car park close to the Market Square. There are three large park-and-ride car parks. For a location map, click here. You can also park at Houghall campus.
Parties travelling by bus can alight on the main road, directly below the Market Square and their drivers will be directed, by the police, to a large coach park at The Sands on the riverside.
For those who want to make a weekend of the experience there are a variety of hotels in Durham and the surrounding villages. A particularly good deal is provided by Hatfield College close to the Cathedral Green.
Remember, it pays to book up well in advance.
We are sure you will have a great weekend.
We welcome you to our Gala!
The full programme for the day is also available in the official Gala Day brochure on sale throughout the march and on the Racecourse.
Durham Miners history
Welcome to the website of the Durham Miners’ Association (DMA).
The DMA hosts the famous Durham Miners’ Gala – the world’s greatest celebration of trade union values, community spirit, and working-class culture. For more than a century, The Big Meeting was paid for by the working miners of the Durham coalfield. Today, it is funded by the Marras – the Friends of Durham Miners’ Gala, founded by the DMA to secure the future of the great annual event. Please become a Marra and support the Gala here.
Since 1915, the home of the DMA has been the magnificent Redhills: Durham Miners Hall (pictured). The DMA is working to ensure that Redhills survives and thrives for generations to come as a centre for education, heritage, and culture. To find out more, please go here.
The DMA also continues to provide a range of services for its members – former Durham miners – including compensation claims, benefit information, tribunal representation and legal advice.
For more informartion on the gala contact your local reps or follow on social media streams https://www.durhamminers.org/
You can join Unite the Union online : https://join.unitetheunion.org/
Or contact one of the Unite reps (Details below)
West Lothian Council Local Unite contacts
Unite the Union Shop Stewards/ Workplace Reps
Whitehill Service Centre
Senior Steward: Pat Tedford
Mobile: 07787 102 636 E mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Kirkton Service Centre
Unite the Union Workplace Reps
Rab Brown Unite Convenor: Email email@example.com
Tam Brown Unite Rep: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jade Deans Unite Rep: Email:email@example.com
Ryan Morcombe: Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Frank O Neil : Email email@example.com