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The Miners’ Gala at Durham, 1947


Series Name
Mining Review 1st Year


Issue No.
Date Released
Jan 1948
Length of issue (in feet)
Stories in this Issue:
  1. 1The problem of smoke elimination
  2. 2The Miners’ Gala at Durham, 1947


Story No. within this Issue
2 / 2
NoS synopsis: The miners of Durham come together for their demonstration and gala day. Shots of the crowds and the banners and bands. This was the first rally under nationalization, so it also included National Coal Board representatives. Also shots of a memorial plaque and the cathedral. Herbert Morrison is seen speaking at the rally.
COI Commentary - For over seventy years, miners of Durham County have come together once a year for their demonstration and gala day.
This year the gala took the same form. Although nothing is prepared, no route is laid down on paper, it gives the impression of a perfectly organised procession, because it all goes according to tradition.
The atmosphere wasn’t quite the same this year, though. For the first time, the management was invited. For this was the first Durham Rally since the pits were handed over to the people, and Coal Board representatives took part in the celebrations.
A quarter of a million mining folk came to town and let themselves go for a day. They flocked to the Old Race Course to enjoy themselves. The weather did its worst, but it takes more than that to spoil a miner’s day out.
A service was held at the Cathedral in memory of Durham miners who have lost their lives underground in the past, and their comrades who as the plaque says work in darkness and danger today -
The Durham Demonstration has always been noted for its guest speakers, chosen by ballot among the lodges. The roll of speakers in past years includes many names justly famous in the history of organised labour. This year one of the popular attractions was Mr. Herbert Morrison, who spoke of the link of solidarity between miners and other workers.
Mr. Morrison: Now I reckon that by now - I reckon I know what some of you are thinking. You’re thinking: ‘Here’s another one up from London, where they all have white collars, telling us chaps what to do - never been down in a pit in his life, except on a look-see visit".
Well, I know - but I think maybe you make a bit of a mistake about the people in London and other such places, and about what they think of you and your job. They may never have been down a mine, they may not know what it feels like at the end of seven and a half hours of it, but that doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate guts and hard work and men who do it.
And let me remind you of this - the miners of the great British Provinces - in past years, every time the miners were on strike the workers of London instinctively rallied in support of the miners when they were in dispute. They may not always have known a lot about the details - as a matter of fact they didn’t, and they didn’t much care - but they were instinctively on the miner’s side - your side.
(Prolonged clapping)
Now I want you men of the pits to come through; I want this great scheme of nationalisation to succeed triumphantly. The whole country is watching to see how this great new organisation, this new adventure, this new experiment, comes out. The great experiment of socialism in a democracy depends on you. The whole future we are trying to build up in our country is for all our people and all our children, and it depends on you".
Commentator: And after the speeches, the fun.
Celebrations and festivals; Mining; Demonstrations
England; Durham
Written sources
The National Archives INF 6   /390
British Film Institute Databases
Viewing Copy - bfi screenonline   Used for Synopsis
Hogenkamp, A. P., unpublished DPhil thesis   pxiv.
Production Co.
Crown Film Unit
Denny Densham
Graham Wallace
J. Jones
Jocelyn Jackson
John Legard
John Taylor
Leon Clore
Maurice Denham
Ministry of Fuel and Power
W. H. May
William Chaston

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