Trade union members across the UK will come together this Saturday [13 July] to commemorate the 135th Durham Miners’ Gala.

Established in 1871, the event is the largest of its kind in Europe and will see trade unionists celebrate both Durham and the UK’s coal mining heritage by marching the traditional route taken by colliery bands over the years.

Trade unionists parading banners through the city will be accompanied by brass bands and will assemble at the Racecourse for speeches from shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey MP, Unite the Union general secretary Len McCluskey, Laura Pidcock MP, Shami Chakrabarti, shadow attorney general and lifelong civil liberties and human rights advocate and Jeremy Corbyn MP, the leader of the Labour Party.

Ian McFall, a member of the supervisory board at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “We are proud to show our solidarity at ‘The Big Meeting.’ The Durham Miners’ Gala is a key milestone in the trade union calendar and a proud celebration of the solidarity and support trade unions have and continue to provide workers in workplaces and communities across the UK, in the fight for a fair and equal society for all.

"We are extremely proud to have used our substantial history of working with unions to win more compensation on average than any other law firm for tens of thousands of miners and their families in the biggest industrial compensation schemes in the world at the time.

"We are as committed today as we have always been to working alongside trade unions and their members, securing justice for all of those injured or mistreated at work.

“Joining with our comrades at the Gala is a great opportunity to commemorate the work of trade unions so far and look together at how we will address the challenges facing workers today.”

Timeline of the Miners' Strike 1984/85

  • 8 January 1972

    280,000 miners Strike and win their full wage claim and extra holidays

  • November 1973

    Miners demand 25% increase in wages and impose overtime ban. Prime Minister Health declares a state of emergency

  • 1 January 1974

    Heath imposes three-day week to conserve coal stocks

  • 4 February 1974

    Miners vote 81% in favour of Strike

  • 7 February 1974

    Heath calls general election to take place on 28 February

  • 9 February 1974

    Miners' Strike begins

  • 28 February 1974

    Labour Government elected and miners receive full claim plus an extra week's holiday. New Plan for Coal is announced

  • 1975

    Margaret Thatcher elected leader of the Tory Party

  • 1977

    Nottingham and South Derbyshire Areas agree to incentive scheme defying the democratic decision of two national ballots

  • 1978

    Thatcher commissions Nicholas Ridley to draw up battle plan to defeat miners

  • May 1979

    Tories win General Election

  • 1982

    Arthur Scargill elected President of NUM

  • 1983

    Union-buster Ian MacGregor appointed Chairman of NCB

  • 6 March 1984

    MacGregor announces the closure of 20 pits and loss of 20,000 jobs

  • 7 March 1984

    Strike spreads throughout coalfields eventually affecting 180,000 miners

  • 3 March 1985

    A NUM special delegate conference recommends a return to work without an agreement

  • 5 March 1985

    Miners march back to work. Many pits honour female supporters by asking them to lead the parade carrying the banner

  • 1999

    Thompsons successfully oversees what was then the biggest industrial injuries case in history for ex-miners

  • 31 March 2004

    Miners lose their automatic right to claim for compensation in relation to chest diseases 

  • 2014

    30 years on from the strike and the fallout is still being felt in former mining communities