Durham Miners’ Gala goes online next month

The Durham Miners’ Gala will be celebrated online next month.

The 136th Gala was due to take place in Durham on July 11, but in March was cancelled in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It will now be marked online with a series of new content celebrating the spirit and values of the event. The Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival will go online the following weekend, July 17, 18 & 19.

The centrepiece of the day will be a live online event at 1pm streamed on Facebook and YouTube. It will feature new videos including archive footage from the Gala’s long history, brass band music, messages from key workers who’ve been dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, and contributions from leading labour movement figures.

The day is titled ‘The Second Saturday in July’ – the day on which the Gala is held each year.

The live event will be hosted from Redhills, the home of the Durham Miners Association (DMA), by the DMA’s Secretary Alan Mardghum.

He said: “The 200,000 people who attend the Gala will miss their great day out. We want to mark the day as best we can and bring people together in a spirit of solidarity and celebration.

“The Gala has always provided a platform for working people, and this year we will hear from key workers across various sectors. Their efforts over recent months should have made clear to everyone the vital contribution they make to our country.

“We hope as many people as possible will join us for The Second Saturday in July.”

Supporters of the Gala will also be encouraged to use social media to post their own messages and favourite photos from attending the Gala throughout the day, using the hashtag #DurhamMinersGala.

First held in 1871, the Gala will return to Durham next year for its 150th anniversary. For more than a century, the Gala was funded by the working miners of the Durham coalfield. Following the closure of the collieries, the Friends of Durham Miners’ Gala was established to ensure the survival of the event. Those who contribute through subscription are known as ‘Marras’, a Durham miners’ term for a workmate or friend who can be relied upon in times of need.

Dave Anderson, Chair of the Friends and former MP for Blaydon, said: “If it wasn’t for our Marras, the Gala would simply no longer happen. I urge everyone who values the Gala to sign up, become our Marra, and help us ensure that our wonderful Gala returns bigger and better than ever in 2021 for its 150th anniversary.”

You can get a feel for the event by watching the film, The Big Meeting, reviewed here, or by watching the trailer of The Second Saturday in July below.

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