Miners’ Gala exhibition moves online to mark 136th celebration

Crowds pass under the balcony of the County Hotel and along Old Elvet at the 2019 Durham Miners' Gala.
Crowds pass under the balcony of the County Hotel and along Old Elvet at the 2019 Durham Miners' Gala.

A popular exhibition on the history of the Durham Miners’ Gala, which was set to be displayed this weekend, will move online to celebrate virtual Gala Day.

The 136th Durham Miners’ Gala was scheduled to take place on Saturday, 11 July, but was cancelled earlier this year due to the coronavirus outbreak.

However, organisers the Durham Miners’ Association and Marras – Friends of Durham Miners’ Gala have arranged to mark the day online with a series of new content and a live event.

The groups will be posting messages on the Durham Miners’ Gala’s Facebook and Twitter accounts throughout the day and, at 1pm, there will be an hour-long live stream on the Gala’s Facebook and YouTube channels.

At 4pm, there will be a second live stream which will show a dedicated film, Gala Day from the 1960’s. An online rally will also happen on the Friday evening, 10 July, with a number of trades unions taking part.

Exhibitions and displays, which would have featured on the day, will also move online where they can still be viewed and enjoyed by those celebrating the festival.

Durham County Record Office has produced a virtual version of the exhibition they would have displayed at the event which will be available to view on the record office website. The Mining Durham’s Hidden Depths annual exhibition has been a regular and popular feature in the ‘big tent’ on Gala Day since 2010. This year’s exhibition explains the history of the Durham Miners’ Gala, which started in 1871, and how the county has been shaped by work of the miners’ association.

Featuring archives from the Durham Miners’ Association, the largest miners’ trade union in the country, the exhibition explores the association’s powerful history and its members over the past 149 years.

An accompanying home learning resource pack, Child Miners, has also been created and is also free to view online at the record office website.

The Brass festival will also be marking the connection between mining and brass bands with its video piece, The Stories of Their Banners. The video features an original piece of music from 2004, from composer Will Todd, which celebrates the Durham Miners’ Gala and has been reworked for a virtual choir and brass band. This will be available to watch from 6.30pm from Monday, 13 July.

Cllr Joy Allen, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for transformation, culture and tourism, said: “Although the Durham Miners’ Gala has not been able to take place this year in the way it traditionally would, the festival can still be celebrated with as much enjoyment with a host of online content that has been organised throughout the day.

“It is great to see that some of the exhibitions that would have been proudly displayed this weekend, such as the popular history of the gala exhibition put together by our record office, can still be viewed and enjoyed online to celebrate the 136th Gala Day.

“We already have a significant number of people who access our archives nationally and internationally. We hope that this online exhibition will attract even more national and international audiences, as well as regular gala visitors, and hopefully encourage them to visit the real event in future years.”


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