Gear­ing up for the Gala

BAR­BARA HODG­SON HAS NEWS ON THIS YEAR’S DURHAM MIN­ERS’ GALA

The Chronicle - - What’s On -

THE count­down is on to Durham Min­ers’ Gala which will see colour­ful ban­ners un­furled and col­liery bands at the ready for the an­nual cel­e­bra­tion of our min­ing his­tory.

The hugely pop­u­lar event, which takes over the streets of Durham, will be back on Satur­day, July 14.

Crowds al­ways pack out the city cen­tre to cel­e­brate the Big Meet­ing which in­cludes the usual pro­ces­sions, tra­di­tions and fam­ily ac­tiv­i­ties.

And Durham Min­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion is urg­ing as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble to turn out this year in sup­port of what is the 134th event.

Each year it is out to be big­ger and bet­ter and this time vis­i­tors can ex­tend the cel­e­bra­tion by camp­ing out.

Of­fi­cial Gala camp­ing will be avail­able at Houghal col­lege just a short walk from all the ac­tion – and it will pro­vide all the home com­forts too.

Hosted by East Durham Col­lege, camp­ing will be on of­fer from July 12-14 and there will be toi­lets on site as well as free lux­ury show­ers.

It’s all about en­cour­ag­ing fam­i­lies to make the most of the event which will be show­cas­ing a packed day of en­ter­tain­ment.

The Gala – un­like a nor­mal trade union march – does not have a start or fin­ish time or even one cen­tral lo­ca­tion, say or­gan­is­ers.

In­stead, it plays out – quite lit­er­ally – with col­liery bands march­ing though their own Durham vil­lages early in the morn­ing and then ar­riv­ing in the city from all di­rec­tions.

The city cen­tre will close to traf­fic around 7am and the colour­ful march, with bands and ban­ners, will con­gre­gate around the Mar­ket Place be­fore set­ting off for the race­course about 8.30am.

Other meet­ing points are the min­ers’ head­quar­ter at Red Hill, near the rail­way sta­tion, and the New Inn in Church Street Head.

The pro­ces­sions al­ways con­verge at

the County Ho­tel at Old El­vet where union lead­ers, guests and dig­ni­taries are on the bal­cony to greet them. There’s mu­sic then the march car­ries on to the race­course where, against a back­drop of ban­ners, speak­ers take to the plat­form af­ter the chair­man opens the meet­ing around 1pm.

Spec­ta­tors will be able to soak up the at­mos­phere as well as en­joy street the­atre dur­ing the pro­ces­sion which can take up to three, even four, hours as it passes the County Ho­tel.

The ban­ners – ta­pes­tries cap­tur­ing the area’s proud work­ing class his­tory – are al­ways the main fo­cal point.

Around five se­lected bands and ban­ners will then march on, af­ter the speeches, to Durham Cathe­dral for the tra­di­tional Min­ers’ Ser­vice.

Vis­i­tors also will be able to en­joy ex­hi­bi­tions and re­fresh­ments in mar­quees as well as a va­ri­ety of stalls on the river­side where there will be chil­dren’s rides too.

A fun fair will be set up in the field over­look­ing the race­course and the fam­ily-friendly day al­ways takes on a fes­tive air as it pro­gresses. Durham Min­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion said on its web­site: “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.” Those keen to join in the fun can park (if they ar­rive early enough) in the multi-storey car park near the Mar­ket Square or at Houghall cam­pus or else make use of three large park-an­dride car parks. There will be a Gala Day brochure on sale on the day. Those hop­ing to camp – which costs £20 an evening for adults and £10 for under-16s – can buy tickets at durham-gala-camp­ing.wes­cant­ick­ets.com Sup­port­ers are asked to join Friends of Durham Min­ers’ Gala to help en­sure the fu­ture of the event. See www.friend­sof­durham­min­ers­gala.org/join_us

The ban­ners are lifted when the var­i­ous min­ers’ lodges de­cide it is time to march back Durham Min­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion

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