Durham Miners’ Gala photography

Stuart Forster discusses Durham Miners’ Gala photography.

The Durham Miners’ Gala of 2017 proved to be the biggest in recent memory. Sunny weather and a number of high profile speakers helped attract a crowd of around 200,000 to Durham City for the 133rd Big Meeting.

A marching pipe band participates the parade of banners past the County Hotel in Durham.

A marching pipe band participates the parade of banners past the County Hotel in Durham.

Durham Miners’ Gala photography

It’s a photogenic spectacle that provides insights into the industrial heritage of North East England.

A trombonist from a Yorkshire-based performs at the 2017 Durham Miners' Gala.

A trombonist from a Yorkshire-based band performs at the 2017 Durham Miners’ Gala.

The event has been dubbed the biggest celebration of working class culture in Europe and is perhaps the biggest trade union gathering on the continent. That makes it ideal ground for some great photos.

A marching band files past the Count Hotel. The colours of banners make Durham Miners' Gala photography rewarding.

A marching band files past the Count Hotel.

Parade past the County Hotel

The parading of union banners through the city, past dignitaries on the balcony of the County Hotel, to the Racecourse cricket ground, down by the River Wear is always one of the most colourful aspects of the gala.

An estimated 200,000 people were attracted to the 2017 Durham Miners' Gala.

An estimated 200,000 people were attracted to the 2017 Durham Miners’ Gala.

Brass bands from the north-east of England and beyond performed. A pipe band, wearing tartan kilts and traditional Scottish uniforms, had cameras clicking as it moved through the city centre.

The GMB Women's Network banner was one of dozens paraded at the 2017 Durham Miners' Gala.

The GMB Women’s Network banner was one of dozens paraded at the 2017 Durham Miners’ Gala.

A photogenic day out

The banners themselves attract a lot of attention and I noticed several photographers photographing them as they were propped up on the periphery of the cricket ground.

Men enjoy a day out at the Durham Miners' Gala.

Men enjoy a day out at the Durham Miners’ Gala.

That is the location of marquee tents displaying information about union related activity. The Durham Constabulary and Durham Miners’ Association are also among the entities who reach out to the public at the event.

Musical instruments by banners at Durham's Racecourse.

Musical instruments by banners at Durham’s Racecourse.

Photography of the speakers

Many of the attendees at the Durham Miners’ Gala are there primarily to listen to the speeches politicians and trade union leaders. This year the film director Ken Loach joined the likes of Ken McCluskey, the General Secretary of the union Unite, and Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party leader, on the podium.

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, with the Mayor of Durham, at the 2017 Durham Miners' Gala.

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, with the Mayor of Durham, at the 2017 Durham Miners’ Gala.

Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite, gives a thumbs' up the trade union, at the Durham Miners' Gala.

Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite, the trade union, gives a thumbs’ up at the Durham Miners’ Gala.

The most emotional speech was that by Matt Wrack, the General Secretary of the Fire Brigades’ Union, who spoke about the impact of working during the Grenfell Fire on the members of his union.

Matt Wrack, General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, was a speaker at the Durham Miners' Gala.

Matt Wrack, General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, was a speaker at the Durham Miners’ Gala.

Further information

Friends of Durham Miners’ Gala is a not-for-profit organisation that has been established to secure the future of the Big Meeting.

Alan Cummings of the Durham Miners' Association speaking at the Durham Miners' Gala

Alan Cummings, the Durham Miners’ Association Secretary, speaking at the Durham Miners’ Gala.

Jeremy Corbyn applauds a speech at the 2017 Durham Miners' Gala.

Jeremy Corbyn applauds a speech at the 2017 Durham Miners’ Gala.

This is Durham is the website of the Visit County Durham tourism organisation.

Dennis Skinner, the Member of Parliament for Bolsover, on the podium during the Durham Miners' Gala.

Dennis Skinner, the Member of Parliament for Bolsover, on the podium during the Durham Miners’ Gala.

Photographer in North East England

Looking for an experienced travel photographer for an editorial or commercial assignment? Why Eye Photography is a photography company based in North East England.

Like what you see on this page? Feel free call +44 (0) 7947 587136 to discuss your photography requirements. Why Eye Photography specialises in food, travel and portraiture, and has undertaken commissions across the United Kingdom and beyond.

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