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Ken Loach to read at Durham Miners’ Festival Service to mark the DMAs 150th anniversary year

03 July 2019

On Saturday 13 July 2019, the 135th Durham Miners’ Gala will return to Durham City; an annual celebration of the rich mining heritage of North East England and continuing community spirit.


Durham Cathedral will again play a central role in this annual event, with the Durham Miners’ Festival service taking place at the cathedral at 3pm on Saturday. This year’s service will be particularly exciting as the cathedral marks the 150th anniversary year of the formation of the Durham Miners Association (DMA). The service will see critically acclaimed film-maker, Ken Loach, reading a lesson from the bible.  Ken Loach is well known for films that address issues of social justice, in particular the 1969 film Kes and more recently I, Daniel Blake.


As in previous years, the service promises to deliver an energetic and rousing atmosphere, as the procession of colliery brass bands and community banners arrive in to the cathedral’s breath-taking Norman Nave.


Ken Loach, said: “It is an honour to be asked to be the reader at this year’s Miners’ Festival Service as part of the Gala. I can’t think of a more impressive occasion or a more magnificent cathedral.”


This year, both Horden and Blackhall Lodge will debut new banners at the procession. Event organisers, Durham Miners’ Association will also showcase their new banner, in celebration of their 150th anniversary on 20 November 2019. The banners will be blessed by The Right Reverend, Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, during the cathedral service, a deep-rooted tradition that last year saw the blessing of the first all-women’s banner in the parade.


The Very Reverend, Andrew Tremlett, Dean of Durham, said: ‘The Durham Miners’ Festival Service is a real highlight of the cathedral calendar, and anticipation is already building in the city ahead of July.


‘The cathedral service gives us the opportunity to reflect on the region’s mining legacy, as well as celebrate community cohesion and hope, as new banners are dedicated and the people of County Durham gather in their Cathedral to give thanks.’


Durham Miners’ Association secretary, Alan Mardghum said: ‘We are deeply proud that the immense contribution of our communities over many generations is celebrated each year in the magnificent setting of Durham Cathedral.


‘We are delighted that Ken Loach, a great supporter of ours, will give this year’s reading on behalf of the DMA, and in our 150th year we look forward to our new area banner receiving its blessing during the service.


‘Our thanks as ever to everyone at the cathedral for the work they do and for hosting this service that means so much to us all.’


Also known as The Big Meeting, the Durham Miners’ Gala will hit the big screen in the DMAs 150th year. A new feature film about the Durham Miners’ Gala will go on general release in cinemas later this summer.  Titled ‘The Big Meeting’, the film, which received its premiere at Redhills: Durham Miners Hall on June 22, brings to life the rich history of the Gala in our region, and features commentary from stalwarts of the Gala community and notable supporters.


To avoid disappointment on 13 July, the congregation are advised to arrive early as the cathedral service always reaches capacity.


For more information about the Durham Miners’ Gala Festival and service visit:,