The Durham Miners Gala in Durham City

The 136th Durham Miners' Gala aka ‘The Big Meeting’ will take place this Saturday 16 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.

The Durham Miners' Gala in Durham City every July

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?!

visitors enjoying the Unity in Strength exhibition at The Mining Art Gallery

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 special exhibition: Unity in Strength: Durham Miners' Gala. This temporary exhibition is a joyful celebration of the county's mining communities and captures the spirit of the Big Meeting, featuring artwork by Tom McGuinness, Norman Cornish and others (22 June - 30 December 2022).

Beamish Museum 1900s Pit Village and Colliery

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 Museum 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.

The Norman Cornish Trail at Spennymoor Town Hall

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.

Visitors to Spennymoor can also follow in the footsteps of Norman Cornish and explore his home town on the Norman Cornish Art Trail.  

The underground tunnel at Killhope

Killhope 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.

Redhills Hall in Durham City

Redhills

Redhills 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’.

Redhills is now closed for an extensive programme of restoration and renewal. When open, Redhills regularly hosts community and cultural events, including live music and lectures, as well as guided tours around this fascinating building. 

Norman Cornish's Durham Gala mural on display at Bishop Auckland Town Hall

Bishop Auckland Town Hall

Inside the newly renovated Bishop Auckland Town Hall you will find one of Norman Cornish's most beloved pieces - The Miners’ Gala mural

One day, working at the coal- face Noramn was summoned to receive an important telephone call from Durham County Council to commission a Mural typifying life in the county for the new county hall. 

Norman was granted ‘leave of absence’ for twelve months, without pay for the comission, which sadly confirmed his view that the miners were treated like slaves. The commission was conducted in secrecy and he was given permission to use a former church hall as a studio although it was draughty and without heating. 

The piece is on display alongside a stunning stained-glass feature by fellow local artist Tom McGuinness. 

Norman Cornish The Miners' Gala mural

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