The North East Film Archive is one of a network of regional film archives established to collect, preserve and show film made in, or about the North East of England. Our collections are non-fiction, and date from the early 1900s to the present day, providing a rich record of life in the region over the 20th century. Many of our films are available to watch, free of charge, on our website.
This film is part of Free
Downstream Through Durham
Banners and brass and North Country quilters: just some of the working class traditions and crafts encountered on a trip along the River Wear.
From the collection of:
A retired 1930s dance band musician takes a meditative trip along the River Wear. On a tireless mission to promote the picturesque and resourceful rural North East, he films Amy Emms, who crafts Durham quilts of real beauty, fluorspar miners at Blackdene in Upper Weardale, and the Durham Miners’ Gala, an annual political event that was ‘bigger than Christmas’ in its 1950s heyday.
The first Miners’ Gala was held on August 12, 1871, in Wharton Park, Durham. The event began as a campaign by Northern mine workers to lobby pit bosses, who met regularly at the Royal County Hotel to set wages. Always a political rally as well as a celebration of men who contributed so much to the nation’s wealth, it attracted quarter of a million people at its peak. Left-wing politicians and trades union leaders still cheer on the parade of brass bands and banners that present ‘a colourful tapestry of working class history’ when gathered at the old Durham Racecourse.