Thousands turn out for annual Miners’ Gala event

The sun was shining on South Tyneside’s ex-miners and their families as they took part in a traditional parade.

Tens of thousands of people lined the streets of Durham City Centre to be part of the Durham Miners’ Gala.

Banner groups took part in the annual Durham Miners' Gala

Banner groups took part in the annual Durham Miners' Gala

Colliery communities from across the region and beyond were represented as groups marched with their banners.

They were joined by unions and campaign groups as they made their way along the streets, from the Market Place to the Racecourse, watched on by tens of thousands of people.

Many taking part believed this year was the biggest one yet with even more banners showcased than in the past.

This year was the 134th Big Meeting.

To have an event bringing people out in such numbers, it gives us hope for the future.

John Watson

Speakers included Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, veteran MP Dennis Skinner and Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry. Musician Billy Bragg also gave a performance after the speeches.

Among those marching was former workers of Westoe Colliery. This year marks 25 years since the pit was closed .

Harton and Westoe Miners Banner Group, were one of the many taking part from South Tyneside. Chairman John Watson said: “The event is the biggest it has ever been. There are more and more banners getting replicated and joining us.

“The turnout is amazing, it is really impressive to see so many people coming out to support us.

Harton and Westoe Miners Banner Group

Harton and Westoe Miners Banner Group

“To have an event bringing people out in such numbers, it gives us hope for the future.

“But we have to continue the fight against this brutal government, its anti-trade laws and austerity.

“Events like these show there are power in numbers. All we want is fairness in society.”

The banner group were supported by Westoe Brass Band as they made their way along the traditional route.

Thousands of people turned out to take part in gala

Thousands of people turned out to take part in gala

The Racecourse was the end location for all those who had marched. Fairground rides and music entertained the crowds, while a number of speeches were given by a number of guest speakers.

Dad Alan Burnham, from Brandon, Durham, was at the gala with his sons Nathan, 16, Lennon, 10 and Rocco, three.

He said: “We come every year. My grandfather worked down the mines all his life. I think it’s a great day for everyone - it’s spot on.”