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.
Durham Miners’ Gala photography
It’s a photogenic spectacle that provides insights into the industrial heritage of North East England.
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 an ideal ground for some great photos.
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.
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.
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.
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 which reach out to the public at the event.
Photography of the speakers
Many of the attendees at the Durham Miners’ Gala are there primarily to listen to the speeches by 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.
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.
Friends of Durham Miners’ Gala is a not-for-profit organisation that has been established to secure the future of the Big Meeting.
This is Durham is the website of the Visit County Durham tourism organisation.
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