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This page was last updated on: 13/12/2008
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Durham's Pride, Fishburn Band's CD costs £10 plus £1 post & packing
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Audrey 01429 297019
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When compiling the booklet to accompany the CD, we decided to ask a wide variety of people to contribute their views, thoughts, memories of what the Durham Miners Gala means to them. 

We hope you enjoy reading their replies:

"I think of the Gala with mixed emotions.  Remembering at four years old, standing proud with my father in front of Fishburn Lodge banner.  Feeling the pride of miners and their families descending into the crowded streets of Durham, the sea of banners floating on the breeze, brass bands playing.

Onto the racecourse, fun, laughter, children playing, eating picnics, men and women waiting to hear the speeches.  Sadness of hearing the miners anthem 'Gresford', thinking of my father and other miners who lost their lives at the pit!

Coal mines are gone now, but the comradeship, unity and strength remains within its people."

"Apart from the proud tradition and the heritage of a now, sadly bygone age, the Durham Miners Gala always reminds me of the first 'Geordie' sketch that George House and I ever did on television!

Lottery winners (they were pools winners when we first did the sketch!), Jackie and Alfie are sunning themselves on a sun-drenched beach, somewhere in the South Pacific, with cool bottles of 'Newcassel Broon' in their hands, their respective dut and flat cap set at jaunty angles:

"By Jackie, this is the life, eh?"

"Ya not wrang, Alfie, but di yi knaa where wid be if wi wor back home?"


"Wey man - the Durham Miners Gala!"

"Oh aye!  Ya'r reet!  Mind....," sez Alfie gazing up into a cloudless, azure sky,

"....thiv gorra canny day forrit!!"

"Having witnessed so many marches, demonstrations and celebrations of working class solidarity during my time as a full-time Officer for the NUM, I can honestly say that nothing matches anything I have ever seen like the Durham Miners Gala.  Bands and banners march in triumph through the narrow streets of Durham on the second Saturday in July, come what may. 

Over the past three decades I have witnessed turmoil in the old coal communities of Durham; industrial action, strikes and campaigns in order to retain an industry and a heritage built on coal.  Intransigent and unforgiving Governments have brought a once great industry in Durham to its knees, but they have not broken the spirit of those that worked in the communities that made the industry great.

The fluttering banners of the old coal communities still march into Durham for the 'Big Meeting', proudly heralded in by bands such as Fishburn who are determined to trumpet their glorious past. 

Who knows, the optimism of this particular day may very well raise the spirit of our communities to a glorious future."

"The Big Meeting - it has always been a part of our lives.  A day of music, colour, politics, joy and sadness.  A day of celebration and mourning.  Banners and bands proudly demonstrating a way of life; a whole culture.  Those banners, sailing like ships through the narrow streets of our lovely little city carrying their eternal message; unity is strength, progress, reward for labour. 

For me, the glorious sight of all those beautiful banners lined up along the racecourse is like a workingman's art gallery.  The single image of the pile of shining brass instruments beneath the beautiful displayed banner says it all for me - tradition, skill, pride! 

Long live the Gala!"

"Miners Gala Day is a roller coaster ride of emotions and memories of many very special things.

The comradeship of being a member of the best working trade union ever will never be seen again.  Miners were the salt of the earth; "all for one and one for all" was a reality.  I started work at the 'pit' and was with the NCB for 16 years.

In the 50's and 60's the Gala was indeed a 'Big Meeting', every year full of memorable moments.  Each Lodge banner was carried with pride and each band endeavoured to be the best. These days it is pure nostalgia and it is to be hoped that funds can be found to secure the future of this great day.

As a march drummer, I have started playing at 7am at Kelloe (East Hetton Lodge) and moments later 'Gresford' could be seen to be making many old miners cry with pure emotion.  Streets were packed at this early hour and of course the Club was full of revellers waiting to board the bus to Durham.

I would hope to see bands and banners parading through the streets of Durham for many years to come.  The pits are gone, but the spirit lives on."

"The Durham Miners Gala is one of the most important cultural events in the calendar of the North East.  It helps us to celebrate the human endeavour and human cost which underpinned our industrial life.

The Gala is specifically a joyful reminder of the hard work and fellowship, which built so many of our communities around working collieries.  It is a wonderful day in which the music of colliery bands reaches places in people's hearts and they can then sing in tune with the hearts of miners and their families, living and departed.

God bless the Gala."