The 134th Durham Miners' Gala aka ‘The Big Meeting’ will take place this Saturday 14th July. The annual gathering has been held on the second Saturday of July in Durham City since 1871 and this weekend as always promises to be another fantastic event.

Durham Miners' Gala - The Big Meeting

In the 1800’s Durham was the leading producer of coal in England, firing the Industrial Revolution and whilst Durham’s landscape today shows little signs of this once extensive industry, the heritage of coal is still very much alive in our county.

There’s a vast array of award-winning attractions throughout Durham which celebrate our proud mining past, so why not pop in and see one whilst in Durham for the Big Meeting?!

Beamish the living museum of the north

Beamish – The Living Museum of the North

No recreation of the history of the North of England would be complete without paying homage to the people who worked down the pits. At Beamish visitors can experience what life was like for miners and their families in the 1900s at Beamish Museum’s 1900s Pit Village and Colliery.

Explore the miners cottages, try delicious fish and chips at Davy’s Fried Fish Shop, cooked the traditional way in coal-fired ranges using beef dripping or take a trip down the drift mine and experience the reality of a miners life underground.

Norman Cornish at Durham Mining Museum

Durham Mining Museum

Spennymoor Town Hall, in the Vale of Durham houses the Durham Mining Museum, a dedicated memorial to the works and lives lost during the mining period across the county.

Visitors can view mining artefacts and models of mining machinery as well as experience working conditions of miners in a simulated underground coalface and tunnel. 

The Town Hall also hosts a large permanent collection of Spennymoor’s most famous artist’s work; Norman Cornish. The Coming Home exhibition features a selection of original pieces of his work, some never seen before loaned by Northumbria University, the Town Council and the Cornish Family. There is also a large selection of original work by Norman Cornish for sale.

Killhope the lead mining museum of the north

Killhope – The North of England Lead Mining Museum

Killhope is a multi-award winning 19th century mining museum in the heart of the stunning North Pennines AONB, where visitors can experience the life and work of lead mining families.

Famous for its iconic working waterwheel, Killhope offers families an immersive historic experience, especially if you are brave enough to enter the underground Victorian mine. Visitors can also sleep under the breath-taking starry sky of the Durham Dales in one of Killhope’s three yurts, sleeping up to 15 people.

Beamish the Living Museum of the North

Pitman, Pride and Prayer at Durham Cathedral

Celebrate the mining heritage of Durham with a visit to Durham Cathedral’s newest fascinating exhibition - Miners: Pitmen, Pride and Prayer, part of the Open Treasure Collections Gallery.

Visitors to Open Treasure can learn about the Cathedral’s link to the region’s coalmining, the continuing role of the Durham Miners’ Gala and how mining remains an integral part of Durham life. Visitors to Miners:  Pitmen, Pride and Prayer also enjoy access to the Open Treasure exhibition spaces, including the Treasures of St Cuthbert in the Great Kitchen.

Red Hills Miners Hall

Red Hills

Red Hills is the Miners Hall in Durham City and is known as one of the finest trade union buildings in Britain and is still the headquarters of the Durham Miners Association today. Once known as the ‘pitman’s parliament’, Red Hills regularly hosts community and cultural events.

Throughout the week leading up to the Durham Miners Gala, visitors can enjoy a programme of free events at Red Hills including live music, lectures and the unveiling of the Women’s Banner Group’s community banner, in recognition of the achievements of women in trade unions, politics and the local community. Click here for more details. 

Copyright: Estate of Ted Holloway.

Image: Ted Holloway. Bevin Boys. 1964. Oil on canvas.

The Mining Art Gallery

The Mining Art Gallery in Bishop Auckland is the first permanent gallery dedicated to Mining Art in the UK. The gallery, part of The Auckland Project, is home to the renowned Gemini Collection of Mining Art, which includes works by prominent local artists such as Tom McGuinness and Norman Cornish.

Visitors can enjoy the gallery’s newest exhibition;  The Bevin Boys – War’s Forgotten Workforce, which rungs until Sunday, 30 September. Featuring powerful artwork created by four former Bevin Boys, this exhibition recognises the vital role of  conscripted miners made during World War II. Commemorating 75 years since the launch of the Bevin Boys scheme, the exhibition also marks the 10th anniversary of the Bevin Boys formal acknowledgment by the UK Government.

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