The Durham Miners’ Gala has survived the closure of every deep mine in the North East and continues to attract thousands of people every second Saturday in July.
Known affectionately as the Big Meeting, it is organised by the Durham Miners’ Association, which began life in Victorian times as the pitmen’s trade union.
The Big Meeting is a reminder that the miners of County Durham and Northumberland produced a large amount of the coal which was the mainstay of Britain’s industries and provided the heating and lighting for millions of homes.
That output, which was fundamental to Britain’s civilisation, was achieved at great cost in terms of life and limb.
Thousands of men and boys died or were injured as the result of their work in the dark seams underground. The Gala can be regarded as a tribute to them.
The beautiful miners’ hymn, Gresford, which was composed by Hebburn pitman Robert Saint in the 1930s, is always played at the event.
In 2017 Jeremy Corbyn and Ken Loach were special guests. Corbyn drew the biggest crowds the event has seen in decades...and the weather was beautiful too!
These fantastic photos were captured on the day by Durham based photographer Steven Landles.