• Durham OnAir

125-year-old service at Durham Cathedral continues as part of this year’s Durham Miners Gala


Thousands of people are preparing to gather in Durham City for the Durham Miners Gala on Saturday 9 July, which returns after a two year absence during the COVID-19 pandemic. The hugely popular Miners Festival Service at Durham Cathedral has been part of every Gala since 1897.

At this service, five new community banners will process into Durham Cathedral accompanied by brass bands, to be blessed by the Bishop of Durham.


The new banners, accompanied by North Skelton Band and the Durham Miners Association (DMA) Brass Band, will parade into the cathedral from 2.30pm. The banners are: Coxhoe Colliery; West Rainton and Leamside Collieries; Murton Colliery; and Rough Lea Colliery (Hunwick); and ‘Myrtle’ which is the banner of the Women’s Banner Group.


The Dean of Durham, the Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett, will give the sermon at what will be his final Miners Festival Service before he takes up his new post as Dean of St Paul’s.


He says, “It is a great joy to welcome the return of the Miners Festival Service to Durham Cathedral once again. The five banners being blessed at this thriving community celebration, 125 years on from when the first service was held, reminds us of how deeply rooted mining heritage is within the North East’s identity. I am honoured to give the sermon at this year’s service as my time as Dean of Durham comes to an end.”


The DMA has dedicated this year’s Gala to key workers – those who kept society functioning, often at great personal risk, during the Covid 19 pandemic – and this will be reflected in the service.


Paddy Lillis, the General Secretary of shop workers union Usdaw will give an address in tribute to key workers. Three key workers themselves will lead prayers. They are: Doreen Chananda, a nurse, Quincy Raymond, a communications worker and civil servant Niccola Charlton.


DMA Secretary Alan Mardghum says: “The Miners Festival Service is always a wonderful, joyous occasion in celebration of our communities. We are delighted that the Cathedral is joining with us in paying tribute to our keyworkers. As the pandemic showed us so starkly, these are the people we really couldn’t manage without. Our thanks as always to all our friends at the Cathedral for the work they do, and for hosting this service that is a source of great pride and strength for us all.”


Actor Charlie Hardwick, best known for her roles in Emmerdale and Billy Elliott, will read a new poem by the Poet Laureate Simon Armitage. Titled ‘Alchemy’, the poem was written as part of a new project in partnership with the DMA and the Brass Festival exploring the history of Durham’s Category D villages.


Yvette Williams, MBE, a leading figure in the Justice 4 Grenfell campaign will perform a reading during the service.


Preceding the service, the popular Mangrove Steel Band – a well-known fixture of the Notting Hill Carnival – will entertain guests at the Cathedral from 1.45pm until 2.15pm. The band are in Durham as the guests of the DMA to participate in the Gala as part of a cultural partnership that will see the DMA Brass Band travel to Notting Hill to take part in the carnival in August.


The service is always very popular and people are advised to arrive in good time. Doors open at 1.30pm. The service will be live streamed on Durham Cathedral’s Facebook page.

For further details visit www.durhamcathedral.co.uk/whats-on