The Durham Miners’ Gala is this year expecting record-breaking crowds of up to 200,000 people. This would be an increase on last year’s – also record-breaking – figure of 150,000 attendees. 

The Durham Miners’ Association, which organises the Gala, predicts that an extra 50,000 people will turn up to hear star speaker Jeremy Corbyn following the Labour leader’s surprisingly successful election campaign.

Other guest speakers are set to include left-wing film maker Ken Loach, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner, and the leader of the Unite union Len McCluskey. 

Because of the recent terror attacks in Manchester and London, this year’s Durham Miners’ Gala will see a boosted security presence, with armed police officers patrolling the city. 

The secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association, Alan Cummings, said, “Last year on the streets of Durham there were about 150,000 and after what’s happened recently with the general election we think it will put 50,000 on the crowd.” 

“There’s going to be a massive turnout. It’s something we would never have imagined after the last pit closure in 1993. I think we’re going to have more people coming to hear what Jeremy has to say.”

“People will see a bigger police presence and an armed police presence, and we have beefed up the road closures.”

“They will see a reassuring presence and I think people will not be put off by what’s happening. We shouldn’t bow the knee to terrorists.”

Mr Cummings continued, “I would have liked Jeremy to be coming as prime minister – a few more votes and we would have had another prime minister. It’s just a matter of time before he is prime minister.” 

“I went to see him at the Sage a few weeks ago. I’ve been a member of the Labour Party for years and I’ve never seen anything like it. It was really heartening to see so many young people – that’s the future of this country.”

The Durham Miners’ Gala will take place on Saturday, 8th July. As well as speakers, the Gala will include marching bands, a funfair, exhibitions, food and drink stalls, and a special miners’ service in Durham Cathedral.  

The Gala was due to include a musical event, The Marras Festival, but that had to be cancelled because of a funding shortfall. The Durham Miners’ Association says that the Marras Festival will, however, take place next year.

The main starting point for the Gala is Durham Market Place, where people will begin congregating from about 8.30 am. From there a procession, led by marching bands, will make its way out to the city’s racecourse. There, the Big Meeting (as the Gala is known locally) will be declared open at 1.00 pm.

Jeremy Corbyn, who also spoke at last year’s event, has described the Durham Miners’ Gala as “simply the greatest demonstration of working class culture in Britain.”

(Featured image courtesy of Chatham House, from Flickr Creative Commons)





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