This film is part of Free

Miners' Mecca

Fire eating, sword dancing, beautiful banners and a whole lot of brass - Durham's 'Big Meeting' gets under way.

Non-Fiction 1929 1 mins Silent


The annual Miners' Gala at Durham was a Topical Budget newsreel staple - and it's easy to see why. If the brass bands, banners and throngs of flat-capped miners and visitors weren't spectacle enough, this event, filmed in 1929, also boasted a fire eater, lasso display and a spot of sword dancing - a folk tradition in the North East. Watch closely during the final shot and you'll spot a biplane gliding above the crowds.

The gala, the largest trade union gathering in the UK, still takes place annually on the second Saturday in July, despite the decline of Durham's coal industry. The day includes a vast procession of colliery bands, political speeches and a special miners' service at the Cathedral.