By Theo Burman
Communities across County Durham will come together this summer to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Durham Miners’ Gala after it was cancelled two years in a row due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The annual celebration of “community, solidarity and working-class life” will be replaced with a series of ‘little big meetings’ hosted by different communities across the region, bringing people together to mark the event’s 150th anniversary. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, only world wars and two national strikes had prevented the Gala from taking place.
For more than a century, the Gala was funded by the working miners of the Durham coalfield, before switching to a subscription and donation system via the Friends of Durham Miners’ Gala (FODMG). With The Gala planned to return in 2022, the FODMG has called for support from the Durham community by signing up as ‘Marras’.
Dave Anderson, chair of the Marras, said: “Without the support of our Marras, the Gala simply could not happen in any year. We are working to ensure that the Gala returns bigger and better than ever before in 2022. I urge everyone who values the Gala to give it their support in its 150th year. Please chip and join our band of Marras today.”
The Gala will include several traditional events, including a Parade to Horden Welfare Park, a Miners welfare group and a Women’s banner march.
The significance of the 150th anniversary meant additional effort was put in to ensure celebrations could happen in some form. Patricia Simmons, chair of the Durham Mining Communities Banner Groups Association, said: “After the closure of the collieries, people across the region stepped up to care for and renew our banners and preserve the proud heritage of our communities”.
The Durham Miners’ Gala was first held in 1871.
Image: Friends of Durham Miners Gala