The Big Meeting
Every second Saturday in July, thousands of people descend on Durham city centre to celebrate the mining heritage of the area – known locally as ‘The Big Meeting’. The miners banners that represented each pit come are brought in from towns and villages all around the area, to be proudly carried accompanied by traditional brass bands to the racecourse at the edge of the city.
14th July 2018 was the 134th Durham Miners Gala, and one of the most highly attended – incredible since 2018 also marks 25 years since the closure of the last mine on the Durham coalfield. For some of those attending, the day is about the banners, bands and politics – it is the largest trade union event in the world. For others the day is closer to a carnival with the drinks flowing freely. These pictures are a snapshot of this. They are bookended by photographs of how the two mines in my local village of Annfield Plain look today and again the same sites as they looked when the mines were open – reminders of what was once was, and now is no more. They are personal reminders to me of the history of my home – as the motto for the Durham Miners Association states: “The Past we Inherit, The Future we Build.”