By Jack Parker
The 2020 Durham Miners’ Gala has been cancelled.
The decision was taken earlier today by the Durham Miners’ Association, despite the annual event, which has attracted as many as 200,000 visitors in recent years, being scheduled for four months from now (Saturday 11th July).
The Durham Miners’ Association explained their reasons for cancelling the event in a statement, including the need “to relieve the public services from the detailed planning and preparation in the months leading up to the Gala.”
The other reasons given were “to ensure that the 200,000 people who attend the event will not be exposed further to the virus (whether or not the immediate threat has subsided by then)”, and “to give early warning to all those who travel to Durham.”
This year would have been the 136th hosting of the event
Since it was founded in 1871, the Miners’ Gala has only previously been cancelled during the two World Wars, as well as in 1926 due to the national lockout, and in 1984 during the Miners’ Strike. This year would have been the 136th hosting of the event.
However, Alan Mardghum, Durham Miners’ Association Secretary, confirmed the event would return in 2021.
He said: “We will make sure that we make up for this year’s cancellation by staging the biggest and the best Gala ever seen to celebrate its 150th year.
“The Big Meeting, as it is known, has a central place in the culture and history of the people and mining of County Durham. More and more people come each year despite the last colliery having closed in 1993.
“We will continue to organise this most spectacular and important event. We will not see it fade.”
The cancellation will have a major impact on the local economy
The decision to cancel the event is in line with the government’s latest coronavirus advice, which strongly recommended the suspension of mass gatherings for the time being.
The cancellation will have a major impact on the local economy, particularly on hotels, pubs, market traders, and other small business. The Gala draws around £10 million to Durham every year.
Mr Mardghum also said: “We wish all Gala supporters the best of luck and health in the coming weeks. We will all need it. We will do all in our power to help people stay safe.”
Image: paul-simpson.org via Wikimedia Commons